February 16, 2009

The Power of “Hello”

Johnny Yanok

By: Johnny Yanok

It’s just one word. “Hello.”

But, that one word can make or break a customer’s experience. In Chicago and other big cities, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, go about your own thing and not think much about the fact that strangers rarely ever say “hello” to one another.

This past weekend, I was shopping in Jewel when an employee that was stocking shelves approached me, said “hello” and asked how I was doing. It occurred to me that it was the first time in four years of shopping at that particular Jewel that an employee (aside from checkout line workers) had actually greeted me. Intrigued, I quickly looked to see if the man was the Store Manager, but confirmed that he was in fact just a regular employee.

We chatted for a few minutes before I went on my way but I was immediately in a better mood despite the crowded aisles. It seems funny that such a basic encounter would spin my entire shopping experience, but it did.

Just Say It

Yes, it’s customer relations 101, but there is way more at stake than is initially perceived when you first connect with a customer. A pleasant greeting immediately softens the perception of a brand or company and makes a customer realize that you care about the forthcoming interaction and their pending experience.

Want to Know How to Get It Right?

Visit the Caribou Coffee at Kingsbury & Ontario in Chicago. Not only will you be greeted but employees will know your name, interests and desired order after a couple visits…and they don’t forget. They go above and beyond to make sure you have the best possible experience from the moment you step foot in the door until you leave. A sincere customer experience and relationship – that’s why people pay $4 for a mocha.

Go ahead and try it, but take it a step further. Next time you’re dealing with your customers, don’t just say hello. Say hello, ask how they are doing and listen. By listening intently, you’re going to gather a whole wealth of feedback and knowledge that will benefit your customer’s next experience ten fold. It’s the most basic step to start building strong customer relations.


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Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. You know, that is why so many people prefered the small stores over the larger ones until the big chains forced the smaller stores out of business with their low prices.

    There was a local coffee shop near my home town who literally knew everyone that walked in. As soon as you walked in, they would say “Hey *insert name*, you having the usual today?” You wouldn’t even have to stand in line at the counter to place an order, just go have a seat and they would bring it to you when it was ready.

    I miss those days now that 4bucks (Starbucks) came in and dominated the scene and forced them out of business. It was the atmosphere that made the coffee shop. You felt better when you left.

  2. Hi Sal – I hear ya. To take it a step further, I think that’s where current trends are pushing and a much broader resurgence could be around the corner. Similar to how we engage offline, we’re seeing the huge rise of targeted, niche communities online as the preferred choice of connection. For example, as a whole, Twitter is overwhelming. Drill down to finding and connecting with 20-30 people that share similar interests, thoughts, ideas and all of the sudden it’s a worthwhile channel. If a brand or company is able to engage, connect and speak to a customer’s interests…add the personal touch as you note above…all the sudden they’ve stepped things up a level.


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