I went to Best Buy last week, and walked in the door at my normal, slightly-brisk walking pace. I had some spring in my step, but I wasn’t walking abnormally fast. The automatic glass door opened up, and I entered the building. I saw the guy in the yellow shirt at the front door who checks people as they exit. He was typing on his little computer and talking to another employee standing there with him.
I starting walking to the video camera section. I was probably 25 feet inside the store at this point, and it’s only then that he looks up and says “hello sir, how are you doing?” I didn’t even try to pivot awkwardly and swing around to respond to his hurried greeting–I just kept walking.
I have nothing against Best Buy in general, but they have been doing this for years. I have no idea why they make the front-door-security-camera-guy welcome people. Every Best Buy has one like him. He’s never paying attention, and his manner of carelessly tossing out an obligatory greeting to my backside after it’s too late is annoying and pointless. Why don’t they either make him stand in front of the door and welcome visitors quickly and politely, or let him keep quiet?
I bring this up for two reasons: 1) because this bothers me every time I visit Best Buy. And 2), because the more I think about it, the more I realize that a lot of websites are built like this too–they don’t really know where and when their visitors show up, and when visitors actually do come to peruse the items on your shelves, you try to introduce yourself awkwardly, and too late.
Here’s something I’ve observed: most visitors know exactly what they want. And they’ll know very quickly if you have it or not. In my case at Best Buy, I made two or three loops around the video camera section and, not finding what I was looking for, asked a store employee. I wish I hadn’t. Three employees stood around awkwardly for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I was asking for (a lapel mic–very simple), discussing where it might be, taking me there, and being shocked to find out that they didn’t sell them anymore.
Here’s the lesson: know your audience. Acknowledge them when they show up, show them where they want to go, and help them find what they’re looking for. And always be genuine. Never just throw out greetings because it sounds like a good idea. Most customers are annoyed, if not offended by phony manners.