It has become a commonplace when walking into many businesses, from the QT convenience mart to Walgreens or even pet stores, that someone will greet me, usually as soon as I walk in the door. Sometimes I am greeted by several people as I make my way through the aisles. Now, this is all well and good, and many times the greeting is warm and friendly, and I feel warm and friendly about my choice of retail outlet. But other times the greeting feels stilted and rushed; there is no eye contact, no smile . . . the greeting feels compulsory and not at all welcoming.
Companies like Walgreens and Quick Trip have implemented policies mandating that their workers greet people as they come in. I theorize that someone in Corporate decided walked into a store and wasn’t greeted, and they felt ignored. So down came the ruling that every guest must be greeted every single time. On paper this is a great policy, but in actual practice, these workers are very often busy with other duties when I walk in and the greeting ends up being a quipped and clearly scripted “Hi, welcome to ___” as they complete the task as hand. If they are too busy to even look at who they’re greeting I don’t feel welcomed; I just feel sorry for them working in such an impersonal and scripted environment. With workers donning their COVID masks the effect is even more distant and impersonal because half of their face is shielded and I can’t hear them as well or clearly see if they’re providing me with the required smile. Most of these workers are genuinely friendly and do offer good customer service, but regurgitating scripted welcomes doesn’t help with that. And when they’re busy . . . geez, let them work!
I would counsel corporate policy-makers and managers to foster a culture of customer service and then let the workers do what they’re trained to, and stop micro-managing their interactions with customers. Then when a worker welcomes me into their store, I’ll know they really mean it.