5 responses to “Pleased to Greet You”

  1. Amanda MacNaughton

    Wow, Jeffrey, thanks for being so honest about this. We here at Paulina Springs recently received a letter from a customer who hadn’t been acknowledged by staff during her time in the store. It was humbling to discuss this in a staff meeting, and we’ve all renewed our efforts since. It’s such a delicate balance, though, not knowing each customer’s preference. Some people get defensive as soon as I greet them, saying brusquely, “I’m just browsing,” as if me saying hello indicates I might ambush them and shove books into their arms. I’m still searching for the perfect greeting. Sometimes I don’t like saying, “Hi, how are you?” because I don’t like being asked how I am all day. I like “Let me know if I can help you with anything,” but it does trigger the defensiveness of those hard-core “just browsers.” I’d love it if other booksellers would comment and share their favorite greetings!

  2. Jenn

    I kind of agree with the customer. I like to be greeted when I enter a bookstore – probably more than any other store I enter. A simple “Let me know if I can help you find anything” and a smile will work just fine.

    There have been a few times when the employees are gathered together talking and I have been made to feel as if I’m interrupting them to get a recommendation. But if a bookseller opens the dialogue with “Can I help you find anything? or What kinds of books do you like?” it makes it so much easier for me to ask for assistance.

    It’s nice that you wrote this blog and are open to making a better first impression. Bookstores are the best and I love a place that is welcoming. I’ll return year after year if I’ve had a good experience.

  3. diane

    as an introvert and frequent buyer, eye-contact and a friendly smile are just what I want. I’m there to look at books, not chat. It’s nice to be helpful with questions. thanks

  4. Stefani

    To start, I always just smile and say Hi. If a customer looks like they’re purposely headed somewhere in the store and know where they should look (usually because they’re a regular), I just leave it at that. But if they’re walking slowly and looking around at the section signs, my alternative is, “Hi, looking for anything in particular today?” If they’re just browsing, I follow up with, “Okay. If you think of any questions, just let me know!” This lets them know that I am going to leave them alone (I personally hate pushy salesmen), but that I am willing to help if they need it. Part of the magic of shopping in a bookstore is stumbling across a book you didn’t know you needed, and to my mind you can’t do that without some stress-free slow browsing. 🙂

  5. Jeffrey Shaffer

    These comments are ALL insightful and they show that how every person is different and there is no “one-size-fits-all” method of customer service. For me the best possible scenario is for a customer to pick up a book from the ‘Staff Favorites’ table–even better is when the book is one that I have recommended. Then I can say “You just picked up a winner!” and take off from there. But I always try to assess their mood first, and THAT is always the tricky part.

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