[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Following the sad demise of staple high street stores Toys R Us and Maplins, attention is drawn once more to the ongoing battle between the growth in online shopping, and the retail high street. But contrary to belief that shopping in-store is soon to be a thing of the past is recent research from PwC. In their 2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey report, they highlight that consumer preference for instore shopping has actually risen (from 40% to 44%), due to a desire for a more “social” and meaningful shopping experience.

If this is in fact the case, and today’s shoppers are every bit as likely to visit their high street store as they would a brand website, then surely delivering more personalised human interactions is greater and more important than ever before.

The Opening Gambit

A key part of these interactions comes at the very beginning of the relationship: the initial customer greeting. And while these early interactions can seem small and insignificant, a well timed and meaningful greeting can often be the difference between a satisfied or disgruntled customer.

Suffice to say, the opening gambit for an employee can be a tricky one. As is often the case today, sales staff are encouraged to memorise a number of key phrases, designed to help ease introductions. But these can come across as robotic, and at times trite. If the aim is to kickstart the customer relationship and build rapport, they can be counter-productive.

Instead, greetings should feel natural and not forced or over rehearsed. It is key for staff to recognise that customers come in all shapes and sizes, and what works for one may not be the right move for another. Some shoppers may be happy to engage with staff as soon as they enter a store, and will actively seek advice as they browse, while others will be instantly put off by an employee who is too keen to start a conversation. And if in doubt we recommend a simple hello, and leave it at that.

As with all elements of the customer journey, there are a number of great examples of employees and brands getting it right and personalising these early interactions. But for every shining example there’s a horror story – I’m sure at one point in your shopping lives you have encountered a group of employees chatting amongst themselves, ignoring your pleading looks for help!

For this reason, brands should be looking to build customer greetings into their existing training programs, to ensure that these early interactions have a positive impact on customer relationships.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]