Retailing: 5 Things You Can Do To Create A Positive Relationship With A Customer Within The First 30 Seconds


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Building relationships is key to ensuring repeat business. Customers can leave an establishment satisfied, but never come back. First impressions are made almost instantly. When someone walks into your place of business, the first impression is the one that will probably last the longest. How can your staff create a positive relationship with customers within the first 30 seconds?

1. Smile

I know it seems simple, and not a new concept, but even with companies putting up posters and wearing t-shirts with smiley faces on them, most front-line associates don’t smile. What’s great about smiling is that a customer can see it way before they even get close enough to have a conversation. The smile helps make a connection and creates a welcoming feeling. I would recommend having your frontline associates envision how they might smile if their best friend, who had been away on a long vacation, just walked into the store. Giving every customer that special smile is an easy first step and one that your customers will surely remember.

2. Be observant

Train your staff to be observant. Try role-playing to see what they see and notice. People love to be complimented, as long as it is authentic and real. If a woman is wearing a beautiful pin or scarf, say something like, ‘I just love that pin, it’s stunning.’ If a man has on an unusual tie, tell him that you noticed and like it. When someone has children with them, find out their ages. It helps show interest and, equally as important, demonstrates to the entire family that you are making them feel welcomed. Noticing the little things, and the big ones, is so easy to do and can mean so much to the customer.

3. State your name

Associates should always give their first name, even if it’s on their badge. Saying,”Hi, my name is Barry, I’m going to help you today”, can make a customer feel welcome and sets the stage for a personal dialog; not one that will be robotic or indifferent.

4. Ask relationship-building questions

It can be nice when an associate asks a question which has nothing to do with the specific interaction or reason why the customer might have entered the store. Finding out about their weekend on a Monday, how their week is going during the week or what they think about this hot, cold or beautiful weather, are all parts of a conversation that can make a customer feel that the establishment is staffed by real humans who care about them as people, not just as customers.

5. Acknowledge

One of the best ways to establish a connection is to say hello to more than one person at a time. When someone is waiting in line or walks into your store while you are waiting on another customer, taking a few seconds to smile and say, “Hi, I will be with you shortly” can make customers feel acknowledged and make the wait much more palatable.

Try implementing these suggestions in your business. Your staff will thank you for it. It will make them feel more comfortable and most importantly, your customers will think, ‘wow, this is a place where I know I will enjoy spending my hard earned dollars.’

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Shapiro
Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 28 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business was released February, 2016.


  1. Hi Richard, if anyone doubts your post, just visit a Trader Joes. They do this over hundreds of store flawlessly.

    Independent retailers should take your advice as a way to grow in the hyper competitive retail arena.

  2. Dom, thanks so much for commenting on my blog post. You are right that Trader Joes definitely does an excellent job of recruiting, hiring and training their staff. It clearly makes a winning combination! Rich @richardRshapiro


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