Acknowledging customers when they visit a store or a showroom, is an essential part of creating a positive first impression. Getting the timing of this acknowledgement right however, can be tricky to ensure the customer doesn’t feel they’re being ignored or alternatively, being pounced on.
This can be understood by highlighting the difference between actual wait time and perceived wait time. Actual wait time, is the time in which the customer has actually been in the store before being acknowledged. The perceived wait time on the other hand, is how long the customer feels they’ve been waiting.
It’s amazing how time distorts. Anything over a one and a half minute wait, feels a lot longer to a customer. It’s worth being mindful, the customers experience is based on their perceived wait time not the actual wait time.
Added to the challenge is the fluctuation of customer traffic. One moment things can be busy with customers everywhere, then the next, there’s not a customer in sight.
When you’re in the middle of a busy period, it’s easy to be completely focused on the customer in front of you and forget to acknowledge those who are waiting. Research shows, when a customer is acknowledged, they are more likely to wait and wait longer for assistance rather than walk out feeling ignored and annoyed.
Good queue management is also important. Many customers get frustrated waiting in a line. Some people even give up, leave the goods they were wanting to purchase and walk out. Being polite and thanking people in the queue for waiting, can go a long way in minimising frustration and encourage them to wait a little longer.
Times when there are fewer customers around, can be very intimidating for the lone customer who enters. They feel like they stand out and are being watched by the staff who are ready to pounce. These customers need to be acknowledged of course but not immediately approached as this can be too much too soon.
The key is for staff to look busy by undertaking cleaning tasks, rearranging stock or anything which makes them appear less threatening to customers. Simply looking up from the task, saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” then leaving the customer for a short time, can allow them to settle before approaching them.
Regardless of how busy a business is, a customer’s presence should always be acknowledged to make them feel welcome and appreciated. Because of its importance, it is vital staff are trained on when and how to do this appropriately, as well as making it a standard or policy that is followed by all consistently.