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The Importance of the Customer Greeting

customer greeting

How important is the customer greeting? When a customer walks into a place of business, how soon should they be acknowledged with a greeting? This is an area most businesses have struggled with for years.

When we begin a mystery shopping program for a client this question is always front and center. When measuring the time it takes for the customer to be greeted upon entering the store, we must consider a variety of things. Staffing the store with the correct number of employees is key of course, but there are other things to consider. Exactly how much time should management allow for a customer to be greeted? In our experience, most retail clients use between 20-30 seconds.

Timings

A retail paint store client (chart above), measures the time it takes for the customer to walk in the store until the customer is greeted. In this case, they allow 20 seconds to be greeted. This is what they train their staff to do. In the chart above, mystery shoppers scored this question among others in the customer experience evaluation. At a glance, the client can see how often this is happening correctly in their stores company wide. One quarter of stores did not meet the company’s requirement of greeting a customer within 20 seconds when entering the store.

That may sound like a short amount of time until you try this. Count up to 20 by thousands, 1001,1002,1003, etc.. By the time it takes you to reach 1,020 you will be very close to the 20 second mark. See the difference? It feels a lot longer when you really “feel” what 20 seconds is like in the real world.

 A brief statement, such as, “Hello, I will be right with you,” can encourage a customer to browse the store until an employee is free to provide help. Once the employee is available, he should approach the customer and ask if they need help finding anything. This opens the lines of communication and it creates instant credibility.

Customer Greeting & NPS

In a recent blog post, I wrote about how a business can improve NPS for a better customer experience. Perfecting greetings plays an important role in the overall customer experience and can improve NPS scores.


While it might sound obvious, how consistent is your team with their hellos and goodbyes? The greeting is your customer’s first experience with your company, so make sure the call starts out on the right foot – keep it informal, ask them how their day is going, be interested in them as a person and show how you value their business.

J.D. Power Reports Immediate Customer Greeting Key to Aftermarket Service Satisfaction

In a just released report, J.D. Power reported on the importance of the greeting in a recent study conducted by the company.

Greeting customers on arrival at an aftermarket automotive maintenance facility can improve customer satisfaction, according to the results of the U.S. Aftermarket Service Index Study released today by J.D. Power in Troy.

Satisfaction scores decline when customers wait more than three minutes before they’re acknowledged at full-service maintenance and repair, quick oil change, and tire replacement businesses, says the data analytics and consumer intelligence company. As a practical matter, greeting customers as soon as possible at any business will provide benefits.

Greeting can be measured quickly and efficiently my utilizing a mystery shopping program for your company. When you see the impact of what just one question makes in the overall customer experience, now is not the time to dismiss this important measurement.

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COVID-19 Customer Service

ecommerce

Customer service adjustments. During the last several months we have all had to make a lot of changes to our lives. We all have our own personal story on hardships as well as new opportunities. Working from home for the first time. Working while trying to home school kids for the first time ever. Getting accustomed to wearing a mask for the first time. Social distancing all while trying to work and take care of our families.

During this time I think that most consumers have shown appreciation for the essential front line workers and we understood when our Amazon order took 2 weeks instead of 2 days. We appreciate those hard working people sacrificing for the well being of others.

Are Things About to Change?

While for the most part, people continue to have patience. Some people are showing a great deal of resistance to mask wearing and retailers and restaurant owners have had to quickly train employees on how to handle an unhappy guest who didn’t want to comply.

My concern is more along the lines of people using the pandemic a an excuse for poor customer service. I have two examples of what I am referring to.

Local Steals and Deals

I am located in the Charlotte, NC area, and I see their commercials daily. Sometimes as part of my local evening news (slower news days). They have a spokesperson who is very compelling and does a great job selling products. Their About Us section on their website states the following:

Local Steals and Deals is operated by Knocking (www.knocking.co) in association with Cox Media Group.

We connect the best brands with Cox Media Group’s audience, offering exclusive deals.

I like the concept. However what I wasn’t impressed with was the customer service. I placed an order 2 months ago and never received my purchase. I honestly think I would have forgotten about it altogether if it were not for the commercials! After emailing the company, I found out that the product is no longer available. It left me wondering how many people placed orders and then forgot about them? Automatically refunding customers on out of stock items, should be part of any e-commerce site these days.

Website Hosting

A quick chat with my hosting company regarding a log in issue I was having kept me busy for over an hour trying to trouble shoot with them in a chat. Finally, I was told my issue would be escalated and that I should try again in a few hours. Good enough. I did what he said and even waited until the next day. Still had the same problem. Got on the chat with them again, knowing full well that I would have to start from the beginning. Sure enough. When I asked if my issue was escalated as I was told, I received an awful reply. I was told that because of COVID19, they were working with reduced staff. Really? You are working on a computer from your home office, I would bet. How could COVID be affecting your customer service?

Don’t Neglect Your Customer Service

Times are hard and budgets are tight. Now is not the time however to neglect your customer service standards. In fact, I believe it is the time to make them an even more important priority. Evaluating what is happening when a customer engages with your business or brand is more important than ever before. People will remember the businesses who came through for them during this time.

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Improving NPS for a Better Customer Experience

Net Promoter Score

Quality Assurance in the contact center is being used to improve NPS (Net Promoter Score) and overall customer experience

“How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend or colleague? Could you please rate your recommendation on a scale of 0-10?”

These are two questions that can induce anxiety into any business. But the questions are real and have been so since 2003 when Frederick Reicheld of Bain & Company wrote about what he coined the Net Promoter Score (NPS) in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Reicheld’s premise is simple. Answers to the “likely to recommend” question are rated on a scale of 0-10 and the responses are divided into three groups as follows:

• Promoters (rating of 9-10)• Passives (7-8)• Detractors (0-6)
The Net Promoter Score is determined by subtracting the percentage of detractor responses from the percentage of promoters. The goal is to get as high a Net Promoter Score as possible as an indicator of customer perception of a company’s service and support.

So How Do You Boost Your Net Promoter Score?

1) Truly Listen to the Customer


Perform a deep analysis of your call records. Consider how many calls are subsequently transferred into other departments.  How many result in escalations or complaints?  Do some listening and consider what the main drivers are for these transfers and escalations. A big negative for NPS is when customers feel that they have to deal with many people or departments to get a query resolved. On many occasions, a customer’s issue will have several threads to it, all of which need to be resolved or actioned in some way.
Empower your frontline to handle queries outside their own department’s main scope and provide them with access to whatever systems they need. This greatly enhances their chances of providing the customer with a ‘one-and-done’ resolution to their call.

2) Perfect Your Greetings and Closings


While it might sound obvious, how consistent is your team with their hellos and goodbyes? The greeting is your customer’s first experience with your company, so make sure the call starts out on the right foot – keep it informal, ask them how their day is going, be interested in them as a person and show how you value their business.

Enabling an advisor to see a customer’s history makes for smoother handling of a call without the customer having to repeat themselves. Your employees also need to know what to do when a call is going wrong and how to get it back on track. Having dealt with the call or query, make sure your advisors finish each call on a positive – remember that’s the impression that your customer will leave with.

3) Review Your Scripts


Sometimes an advisor’s strict adherence to a script can bypass common sense and cause more problems than solutions. Giving employees the freedom to act with common sense and not stick rigidly to a script, regardless of the circumstances, can deliver better NPS scores. If a customer has not had their problem resolved and you ask: ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today’, it is likely to be met with a negative response. This lack of common sense is likely to increase dissatisfaction as the customer hasn’t been helped yet.
Frank Sherlock at CallMiner

4) Follow Up Fast


Prompt follow-up with customers can help contact centers drive increases in NPS. This closing works for several reasons:

• demonstrates your commitment to the customer experience
• resolves individual problems
• gives you greater insight into the issues that drag down your customer loyalty


How fast you respond, who follows up and even the means of contacting the customer can depend on the type of feedback received, as well as characteristics of the customer or account. Often, simply hearing that feedback was received improves a customer’s perception of your company. Use follow-up calls to learn more about customer issues. This can help you pinpoint the root causes of recurring problems so you can fix them at the source.
Richard Burns at NICE

5) Boost Morale in the Workplace


Without an emotional investment in their work, most employees are going to have a difficult time maintaining exemplary service, which can cause your NPS to slip. Allow the team to review themselves alongside their superiors. This demonstrates that the individual’s opinion is valued and their development matters, as well as allowing senior employees to build a rapport with their teams. Utilize reward programs like ‘employee of the month’ or competitions that encourage excellent NPS. Pride in good performance is always an incentive to raise or maintain standards of work. These schemes provide continued encouragement for advisors to provide the best service they can, which in turn goes towards raising your NPS.
Enda Kenneally at West Unified Communications

6) Make Exceeding Customer Expectations the Primary Goal


Rather than focus on the NPS itself, make exceeding customer expectations part of your call center’s goal. To do this, you need to look at the NPS as something that measures the difference between the expectations a customer has and the experience they receive.
Prompt advisors to deliver positive surprises and go the extra mile, rather than concentrating on compliance or reducing the call duration. This will exceed customers’ expectations and help you achieve better NPS scores.

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