Great Retail Greetings: A Win for Customer and Culture

April 17, 2014

We’ve written previously about the concepts of primacy and recency. They dictate that in any encounter we tend to remember what happened first and what happened last.  As customer service professionals, we know that first impressions matter, but what if you used that first impression to set the stage for your customer and your employee?

Below are two great examples of companies that go beyond a typical customer greeting. And since repetition is one of the most basic learning techniques, these greetings ensure the employee is repeatedly reinforcing the culture they are representing many times a day.

Beyond How Can I Help You

How many times have you called or entered a business and heard, “Hi, this is so and so, How can I help you?” It’s a friendly and polite way to greet customers, but it is also forgettable. However, Giant Eagle Market District, a regional grocery chain takes a different approach. It goes beyond the typical greeting to reinforce its commitment to service right from the start.

“Hello, Giant Eagle Market District, how can I offer you unparalleled service today?”

These first words prepare the customer to expect stellar service, a promise Giant Eagle then has to deliver upon. Tricia Keels at Don’t Panic Management, who first told me about the greeting, said this about Giant Eagle Market District:

“On more than one occasion, I have asked for an item I can’t find. Instead of just telling me an aisle, they stop what they are doing and take you to the product. If they don’t have that product, they will order it for you if you would like. Only when you are completely satisfied do they go back to the task they were performing. And when the next customer calls, their greeting reminds the employee to do it again.”

Tricia Keels

The greeting does more than just set the stage for the customer, it also sets the tone for the employee. Giant Eagle Market District’s greeting reminds the employee exactly what they are there for — to give the customer service that is well, unparalleled. It also reminds the employee that they are empowered to do just that.

Beyond Welcome

Great greetings have the ability to set a tone throughout an organization. Instead of having a designated greeter like Wal-Mart, Moe’s Southwest Grill uses its entire staff to shout out the same greeting every time a customer walks through the door.

Welcome to Moe’s!

Greetings like this make the customer feel welcome, not 5 minutes or 10 minutes after they walk in, but seconds after they walk in the door. They also alert the customer that this experience might be something different.

Of course, a greeting does not make a culture, and I have had a number of experiences where unique greetings did not manifest themselves later in the service I received or were delivered half-heartedly by service reps that said it because they were supposed to, not because they were bought into the idea.

When used correctly, however, great customer greetings can help support a customer-centric culture and provide customers a positive start to their experience with your organization. By altering one simple touch point, you can set the stage for an awesome customer experience and reinforce your culture at the same time. Everybody wins.

Do you have any other examples of companies that have greetings that impact their culture? How could you incorporate a greeting like these into yours?

2 thoughts on “Great Retail Greetings: A Win for Customer and Culture”

  1. When people walk into Lanier we all shout “welcome to Lanier Upshaw, you better hold onto your wallet”…..

    I think we are above average in customer service but always think we can improve. Our front line people who do most of the ‘busy’ work get really busy at times and sometimes it’s difficult to drop everything and handle the next crisis. Because some of the transactions are complex it’s hard to extract yourself and start on something else and then jump back in where you left off.

    Oh well, if it was easy then everybody would do it, huh?

    1. Does that line work? I might start using it. 🙂

      That’s always a challenge, staying focused, yet staying nimble enough to move in and out of things to handle them in real-time.

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