19 04 2011
Paris, France

A warm welcome awaits visitors to Fauchon

Every business welcomes its customers, some better than others. Walmart has long been famous for its friendly store greeters , some of whom can be famous local celebrities. Southwestern quick-serve food chain Moe’s┬ámakes the greeting impossible to ignore; employees yell “Welcome to Moe’s!” all the way down the serving line. At businesses like these, the welcome becomes part of the customer experience, and a positive experience can bring repeat customers.

Other businesses miss the boat, forcing their employees to robotically greet each person with the same stock phrase, even when the customer well knows the business they’ve entered. A glum, “Welcome to (insert business here),” delivered over and over to each person in the queue or walking through the door isn’t exactly the warmest of welcomes. Without offering a unique service, differentiating factor, or entertainment value for the customer, this kind of greeting is uninspired and boring.

More important for the customer experience is acknowledgment, accessibility, and friendliness. When a customer walks into a business, the fact that the person is there and an employee is ready & willing to help are at the beginning of the experience. Who wants to walk in and find an empty counter or hunt for an employee when you’re double-parked outside? A smile and a moment of eye contact, along with “hello” or “may I help you?” might be the perfect opening.

Online, there may not be human interaction, but the objective is the same: make the store or site welcoming, easy to navigate, and leave the customer with a positive experience. Make search buttons easy to find and in obvious locations; don’t use pop-ups or pop-unders, and don’t clutter the page with lots of visual noise. For customers who want to find information quickly, links to categories and pages should be in standard screen locations. For browsers, ensure the site has plenty of visuals and links to interesting and informative articles that support the site’s main content.

Like the greeting at Moe’s, a site with a strong commitment and a powerful message should tell it. Zappo’s has one of the most loyal customer followings on the Internet, and the site tells visitors why on every page. The company is committed to service; it has a 365-day return policy; and shipping is free for purchases and returns. Bricks-and-mortar retailer Nordstrom, also with a reputation for outstanding service, offers a clean and simple interface for its site for an easy shopping experience.

The key to making a customer welcome, then? Be genuine, be simple, keep it easy.

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