December 22, 2014

Do You Have Welcomers Working for You?

The Welcomer EdgeWe’ve all got horror stories about bad customer service. But what about good stories… of cashiers, call center reps and salespeople who made us feel welcome while we shopped in their stores or called their customer service lines? Unfortunately, there are a lot fewer of those stories. But when we find a “Welcomer,”  as author Richard Shapiro calls them, we build a relationship of trust with that business.

In The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business, Shapiro (@RichardRShapiro) explains what makes a Welcomer, and provides tips on how any business — regardless of type — can hire a stable of Welcomers to build customer relations.

An Expert on Client Retention

Shapiro knows what it takes to keep customers around. He’s the Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR), which provides research, training and consulting services to Fortune 500 corporations for improving the customer experience. He frequently speaks about client retention to audiences around the world, and he has been interviewed as an industry expert by The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and others.

Do You Hire Welcomers?

Shapiro outlines what makes a good Welcomer, or “Doctor of First Impressions.” It’s someone who:

“. . .makes you feel important, appreciated, and valued as a customer and as a person; he or she makes you feel comfortable enough to make a connection, share your thoughts, and seek them out again for that personal touch and sincere concern.”

We’ve all interacted with Welcomers, albeit not frequently. The woman at your local pharmacy who always makes a point to ask about your kids is a Welcomer. The customer service rep you call who asks how the weather is in your neck of the woods is a Welcomer. Shapiro explains the benefit of having Welcomers on your staff. They put customers at ease, and keep them coming back.

Do You Run a Team of Robots?

The converse to the Welcomer is the Robot.  You know the types: they can’t be bothered to smile, and they don’t really want to help you.  They say “thank you” because they are trained to do so, but it’s clear they’d rather be elsewhere. Robots are detrimental to your brand.

And while real Welcomers are born, not made, Shapiro provides some tips for “Welcomer Wannabees” to get on the right track:

  • The Greet: Start with a genuine smile. Make that first moment of contact positive, and treat each customer like a long lost friend.
  • The Assist: Helping a customer shouldn’t be a rote transaction. Ask the customer for their name, and use it. Be a good listener and be useful.
  • The Leave-Behind: When the transaction is done, give a return invitation to the customer. Encourage them to come back, and ask for you personally. Mean it.

What I Liked About the Book

The Welcomer Edge has many great examples of both good and bad customer service, which go a long way to illustrate Shapiro’s point about what types of actions increase repeat business. Now whenever I go to a store, I’m identifying people as Welcomers or Robots!

Who Should Read This

Even if you’re in business services, or don’t see customers face-to-face, you should read The Welcomer Edge. Anywhere we interact with customers gives us the opportunity to have Welcomers represent our brands. Even if you’re the business owner, and the only one who speaks with customers, you’ll learn how to use Welcomer techniques with them.

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Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

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