Welcoming a customer is first and foremost. When a customer communicates with your contact center, visits your website, or walks into a store, it’s as if that person were coming into your home. The contact center, website and physical store are, in fact, the home of the company. Welcoming a customer on the phone or in person is really no different than if you were inviting a friend or neighbor into your own home, especially if it’s the first time.
When I lead customer service workshops and introduce the concept of welcoming, I have the participants break off into small groups and role-play. The scene is a block party and each individual takes a turn as the host. The goal is to share ideas of what they would say or do to make new guests feel welcome in his or her home.
Some suggestions from the groups have been:
- Smile and say hello
- Offer to hang up their coat
- Bring their guest a drink
- Give a tour
- Show family photos
- Ask questions about their guest – where did they grow up? How long have they lived in the neighborhood?
These are all ways of showing a person you want them to feel welcomed. Jeff Bezos of Amazon said, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” This way of thinking just makes sense.
So why do some companies create an environment where customers dread calling them? Even with a simple question, customers fear the automated voice message with ten menu options or a surly associate who may have no idea how to help. Doesn’t it make sense to realize that if a customer is calling, they have an interest in your company? If the customer feels welcomed during the conversation, there is a better chance of them doing business with your organization and buying your products.
The other day, I overheard two women talking with each other. One of them had just called a doctor’s office recommended by her neighbor. She was telling her friend that the receptionist was so friendly and nice and that in her experience, it meant that the doctor would also be sympathetic and caring. How important was that first interaction? It made all the difference in securing her business.
Everything about the first impression should give the customer hope. Making people feel comfortable is the first step in establishing an emotional connection, which helps create a relationship for continued business. If you establish that first impression by making the customer feel welcomed into your home, you are sure to foster a lasting relationship.
What are some ways your company welcomes your customers?