Foreword Online

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It's Time to Shelve "How Are You Today?"

Posted by Kate Seat on 8/14/15 12:00 AM
Topics: college store customer service, student employees

No matter how enthusiastic the employee, a canned, a formulaic greeting always delivers the wrong impression. These tips, chosen from a post by Retail Minded's Nicole Reyhle, will help your staff move past the standard customer greeting.


Generations ago, greeting a customer with a friendly “How are you?” was welcomed warmly and returned with genuine customer interest. Customers in the 21st century want to be approached in a friendly way that expands beyond “helping” them. They want to feel comfortable, welcomed and able to leisurely or quickly enjoy their shopping experience… but without the pressure of you watching them in their every step. These same customers, however, know that there are countless places they could choose to spend their hard-earned money, so one wrong move in your store could leave enough of a bad taste in their mouth that they choose to leave. All this said, they are also likely to shop your store if you approach them the right way… beginning by NOT saying “How are you today?”.

If you imagine your store as a stage, yourself as a performer and your customers as your audience / guests, you can begin to relate to how you can greet customers in a memorable, worthwhile way. In addition to greeting customers with a smile, you also want to:

  • Make eye contact – This creates a connection and also assures you they have seen you, as well.
  • Have friendly body language – You should avoid slouching, turning your back to customers and approaching customers from behind. No one wants to be startled!
  • Take your time – Don’t immediately feel like you need to say hello when someone walks in your store. They should be in your store – not just walking through your door – before you say hello.

Additionally, consider what you will say – as well as what you won’t say – once your customers are in your store. Simply saying “hello” is often the only thing you need to immediately say. Beyond this, however, you should offer an additional greeting that lends itself to getting to know your customer more.

Some examples of friendly, approachable greetings that you can consider include:

  • What brings you in today?
  • Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
  • What kind of (insert item here) are you hoping to find today?
  • Is there something I can help you find?

While questions encourage the customer to engage with you and share more about their shopping agenda, sometimes customers will signal – or flat out tell you – that they don’t need any help. If this is the case, you can follow up with some of the suggested replies below:

  • Completely understand. Should you change your mind, just let me know.
  • Of course. Enjoy the store and if you need anything, just wave me down.
  • Absolutely. There’s a lot to enjoy. Have fun.

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