What is the most typical greeting when a customer enters a store? 60% of retail stores use “Can I help you?” most often. The reality is that the majority of customers won’t engage with this type of communication and you will lose a sale.
Remember that the customer came to your store for a reason – they have perceived a need and want to act on it. People very rarely go to a store to ‘Just look’. Okay, they’re not 100% sure they’re going to buy, but if they’re given a good opportunity to do so they will. Think about the reasons you go in to a store? There is generally something in the back of your mind about purchasing the product you’re looking at and if someone gives you a good reason to act you will.
Greeting Walk In Customers: The Basics
In retail, it’s important to deal with customers almost as if they’re your friends. Think about when a friend visits your home, you will do everything possible to ensure they enjoy their time there – imagine what your friend would think if you treated them with indifference? Check out this article for a more in depth discussion on putting yourself in the shoes of the customer.
If a customer has visited your store before, try to address them by name. Think about it from your perspective. How impressed would you be if an employee remembered your name? With hundreds of people passing through a store every day it can be difficult to remember all of them of course, but if you do, be sure to use the information to your advantage.
Remembering a name is a real bonus but simply recognizing a customer will also help. A simple “Hey, nice to see you again” will go a long way to converting a walk in customer to a sale and will also encourage repeat custom.
You need to tread carefully here. You don’t just want to throw out disingenuous compliments and you must be careful not to go over the top. For example, if you worked in a clothing store you could say “That scarf is great; perfect for winter as well!” – It does the job without being too overbearing.
Use conversation pieces
If there are any interesting pieces of artwork or photos in your store, why not break out of sales mode and have a chat about them with the customer? This is great at making the customer feel like they’re not being forced in to anything.
How’s the weather?
This may seem obvious but it is a good way of getting the customer to talk about something where they are the expert. Be sure that you are fully engaged during this conversation and respond appropriately to what they’re saying.
Smiling puts people at ease. Try to keep smiling during your interaction with the customer, but don’t force it too much as it will come across as insincere.
If a customer doesn’t want to engage – don’t worry
No matter what approach you take you are always going to get customers who simply don’t want to be bothered. Don’t worry too much – just stick with the same strategy for the next customer and you will likely get a more positive response.
Dealing With Difficult Retail Scenarios
|Common Greetings||Common Responses|
|“Can I help you?”||“I’m just browsing.”|
|“Do you need any assistance?”||“Just looking.”|
|“Are you okay there?”||“I’m okay.”|
Reasons for these responses
- The customer actually is browsing.
- The customer doesn’t want to be bothered and wants to shop on their own.
- The customer doesn’t want to be sold to and thinks it is safer browsing on their own rather than being pushed in to a sale.
No matter what they’re thinking, it is clear that they’re not ready to engage with anyone just yet. This doesn’t mean that they will not want help later. Using these greetings aren’t ideal to begin with, but retail workers often make things worse by responding to the customer’s response inappropriately .
- Your name + a helpful fact = a door to approach a customer later
|How To Respond||How Not To Respond|
|“I love browsing too. Just in case you need anything, my name’s Ken. We have these cool new inventory scanners if you want to check any item in the store. Enjoy your browse.”||“No worries.”|
|“Sure. My name is Ken. If you need anything I’ll be right over there.”||“No problem.”|
|“I understand. My name is Ken if you need anything. I’ll check back with you a little bit later if you have any questions.”||“That’s okay.”|
You should not use language which indicates that you are not happy the customer is browsing. They may feel like you are giving them permission to browse, and they may get offended.
Research has shown that retail stores who switch from “Can I help you?” to “Hi, have you been here before?” have increased sales by 16%, so we really suggest that you try to switch up your greetings a bit.
Retail Sales: Re-engaging with browsers
This situation often requires you and your staff to read basic body language. For instance, you should think about things like:
- How long has the customer been walking around?
- Are they glancing over at you every so often?
You have to make a judgement call here based on what you’ve seen in your store previously. In fact, making sure that all employees know how to act is vital and this article might help to provide all employees with some basic guidelines to follow.
What do you say when you Reapproach?
Don’t come across as pushy. You still need to tread carefully. Indicate that you are just “checking in” with them.
- “Were you shopping for someone in particular?”
- “Are you looking for something for yourself or someone else?”
- “I see that you have your eye on the dresses, would you like to see our winter specials?”
The interesting thing about promoting specials or deals is, unless you can tie it to something the customer has shown interest in, the customer generally won’t react positively to it. It will sound strange if you’re talking about dresses and in the same breath you bring up promotions on a totally irrelevant item. Bring up store specials organically but try not to force it.
You must find the sweet spot between ignoring the customer and pressuring the customer. You want to let the customer know that you’re there for them if required, while not making them feel like you’re putting pressure on them. It’s a hard line to toe sometimes!
- I’m Just Browsing ≠ ‘No’
- I’m Just Browsing = ‘Not right now’
Turning Walk In Customers in to Sales
You’re never going to get it right with every customer, but if you have a tried and tested system in place your conversion rates will skyrocket.
We thought this video from Bob Phibb explained well how often we forget the simple things when greeting customers. Unbelievably, many customers still aren’t even acknowledged when they enter a store. If customers coming to your store aren’t even noticed, the fight is over before you even begin. Make sure you’re not making these silly mistakes and ensure that your employees understand the importance of greeting customers.
We also really like this video on how stores can turn browsers in to actual sales. Converting customers in to a sale really does have a lot to do with actual caring about the customer.
Another important aspect is that you let the customer reduce their risk as much as possible. If your customer is having second thoughts about buying something and he tells you that he’ll come back later, you’ve lost the sale. If your store offers things like a 30-day money back guarantee be sure to mention it. “Go home, relax, see do you like it, and if there are any issues you can get your money back for 30 days!”. Give them an offer that’s too good to turn down.
This great video demonstrates how body language also plays an important role when greeting customers. Remember that things like walking in a straight line towards a customer could be perceived as intimidating. Approach customers at a non-threatening angle, and perhaps even busying yourself with another task while you do, will help put the customer at ease. Try not to make it seem like the customer is your entire focus.
Some of our products can help you to convert walk ins to sales. For example, if you know the times of the day when your store is at its busiest – you can ensure that you have the staff on hand to deal with your customers effectively. On the flip side of that, at quieter times you can reduce your labor costs and save money. We are happy to have a chat with you about growing your business today.
“This post is based on the article, ‘For Openers – 5 greetings that boost sales to walk-in visitors’ by Jeff Mowatt www.jeffmowatt.com”