Positive, energetic and friendly customer greetings are essential to operating a successful hospitality venue. Customers don't come to your venue just to refuel their bodies with food and drinks. They want an all-around social experience that will keep them coming back again and again.
Your customer greeting is the first step towards establishing a great rapport with your patrons. There's no second chance to make a first impression, so you must ensure your customer greetings are always at their best.
That's why we've assembled this guide to make sure you're able to provide effective greetings every time.
The importance of customer greetings
There's no overstating the importance of customer greetings. They are the first step to establishing great customer service, which is an essential component of any successful hospitality business.
Customer greetings by the numbers
Here are some statistics to illustrate just how significant customer greetings can be for the performance of your business.
- 25% of customers are likely to say something positive about their customer service experience, compared to 65% of customers who are likely to speak negatively.
- 23% of customers who have a positive service interaction told 10 or more people about it, compared to 48% of customers who have a negative service interaction.
- 68% of customers say they are willing to pay more for products and services from a brand known to offer good customer service.
- 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer service experience.
The message is clear. Strong customer service is essential to the success of your business, and it all starts with a proper greeting.
Customer greeting examples
Now you know the importance of great customer greetings, how can you go about implementing them? Here are some of the top styles of greetings, with best practices for each one.
A customer greeting goes well beyond the very first words out of your mouth, but they're still very important.
You shouldn't necessarily prescribe this type of greeting for yourself or your employees, as you don't want your customer greetings to feel overly scripted. Whatever classic, professional greeting feels right is usually the best option.
Examples of initial greetings
- "Good morning/afternoon!"
- "Thanks for stopping in today, I'm [name]."
- "Hi there!"
Small talk can serve the same purpose in customer service as it does in other areas of life. It's an ideal way to break the ice and get to know new customers by touching on safe, common topics. While it's important to attend to your customer's needs in a timely manner, there's generally no harm in beginning your interactions in this way.
If someone is visibly very eager to be served or seated, you're better off jumping straight into the nitty gritty of their dining experience. Conversely, if they respond in a manner that indicates they are happy to continue discussing the topic you've raised, feel free to include some follow-up questions.
Examples of small talk greetings
- "Terrible weather we're having, isn't it?"
- "Are you enjoying your weekend?"
- "What brings you here today?"
Repeat customer greetings
Repeat business is crucial for any hospitality venue. Fostering relationships with returning customers is therefore important for your greeting strategies. Leverage the knowledge you have of a returning customer's previous purchases or their life in general to deliver a personalised greeting. However, in doing so, it's important not to be overly familiar, or inappropriately pry into their life.
Examples of repeat customer greetings
- "It's great to see you again! Same as usual?"
- "Welcome back! Have you been craving anything specific recently?"
- "How was your trip? Did you take any nice photos?"
When you are trying to establish an immediate connection with somebody, a simple compliment can go a long way. We all enjoy receiving praise, making this greeting style an amazing way to kick off a positive dining experience.
The key to a great compliment is to keep it genuine. If you can see that a customer has put some special effort into their hair, clothing or make-up, that presents the perfect opportunity to deliver a heartfelt compliment.
Examples of complimentary greetings
- "Welcome to our café. I absolutely love your hair-do."
- "What an amazing outfit! How can I help you today?"
- "Nice shirt! That's my favourite band."
Another strategy for customer greetings is to quickly transition to the process of beginning the dining experience.
If a customer is clearly keen to be seated and served, this is the perfect greeting. A properly-executed directional greeting is warm and friendly while clearly communicating to the customer that the transactional process is underway.
Examples of directional greetings
- "Would you prefer to sit inside or outside today?"
- "Let me show you to your table."
- "Ready to eat? Please follow me."
Customer greeting tips
A comprehensive dress code is critical for projecting the proper image for your café. Your staff should always look professional and orderly. By maintaining your dress code at all times, you'll ensure all customers have a positive first impression of your venue.
Make sure that you greet customers in a timely manner when they enter your café. It's important that you have enough staff on shift to ensure customers aren't waiting around to receive an initial greeting and service.
If you have something urgent to attend to before you can handle a customer, it isn't the right time to begin a lengthy conversation. In this instance, opt for a greeting such as; "Thanks for choosing to dine with us today. I will be with you in one moment."
We all know how important body language is for communication. Becoming conscious of your body language can provide a big boost to your efforts in greeting customers.
Examples of positive body language to focus on include:
- Eye contact – Look the person you are talking to in the eyes when speaking to them. Remember to blink and occasionally look away to avoid an overly-intense gaze.
- Posture – Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. This projects confidence and self-assuredness without coming across as stiff.
- Arms – Hang your arms by your side comfortably rather than crossing them. Alternatively, holding a menu or another relevant item while talking to customers helps to indicate that you are attending to your role in the café.
Confidence is key to any successful interaction. You need to project a level of self-assuredness so that customers know you are capable of meeting their needs, and that you are proud to serve them in your business.
Take the following steps to ensure you keep your customer greetings appropriate at all times:
- Don't intrude into their personal life.
- Be cautious when commenting on personal appearance.
- Ensure you attend to the customer's needs in a timely manner. Generally, the primary reason they are visiting your café is for food and beverages, not for a chat.
What to avoid in a customer greeting
Cafés can be extremely hectic. No matter how busy you are, ensure you pause for a moment and give a genuine greeting to each and every customer that walks into your café. This ensures all customers feel cared for the moment they enter your venue.
Whatever kind of day you are having, you should always present a warm and friendly face to your customers. Just because a customer wasn't aware of your no walk-in policy doesn't mean you should show them any negativity. Try to treat rude customers with the compassion and understanding you wish they would show you.
Maintaining positivity also includes your interactions with other staff in front of customers. Rudely demanding your employee quickly seat a customer promotes a poor working environment and is very unpleasant for customers.
People are going to your café to have fun with friends and family. As such, there's no need to be overly stuffy. If you give overly-formal greetings to customers, your café may seem cold and impersonal.
How to train employees for perfect customer greetings
Training programs can be extremely useful for improving overall service within your café. Consider organising some formal training from a customer service specialist. If you'd prefer to conduct your own training, taking out some time to organise activities such as role-playing can go a long way to helping your employees perform in their roles more successfully
Your procedures for onboarding new staff are also key here. Give new staff plenty of time to observe your more established workers. Assign a buddy to ensure your trainees feel comfortable asking any questions that arise. Check in with them repeatedly to make sure they feel empowered to do a great job every day.
How to know customers are being greeted properly?
There's no better way to ensure all your customers are greeted appropriately than observing your employees in action. Look out for the points we've highlighted in this article and deliver constructive comments where necessary.
The power of feedback cannot be overstated. Give customers the chance to let you know how they feel about your greeting processes and if they are sufficient. You're sure to come away with some valuable insights to give to your team.
Mystery shopping programs
Utilising a mystery shopping program is one of the most effective ways to ensure your café's standards are upheld at all times. Receiving a detailed report from a mystery shopper puts you in the shoes of your everyday customer, allowing you to discover what kind of dining experience your venue is delivering.
How ResDiary can boost your customer satisfaction
Delivering a great customer experience involves all aspects of your business. As such, you need a holistic approach to ensure all customers receive the treatment they deserve.
ResDiary's table management systems ensure your staff are always on top of critical factors like reservation time slots, yield management and waitlists. ResDiary also boasts over 60 integrations to streamline your business, including EPOS software for easy purchases.
To find out more about how ResDiary can help your business, book a free, personalised demo today.