“Hi, Welcome to…!” A Customer Service Nightmare

I’m not exactly sure where the fad began.  Perhaps it was with a popular Mexican fast food restaurant.  I do recall that this is where I first encountered the practice a good number of years ago.  As I walked into the restaurant all of the workers behind the counter shouted “Hi, welcome to…!”  (I’m sure you can probably guess the name of the establishment if you’ve ever eaten there.)  I got in line, ordered my food, paid, and received my food, the whole time being interrupted in the process for them to shout at the next person that came through their door their group welcome.  I ate my meal, left, and I’ve never been back.

Unfortunately, the practice has taken hold and started to creep into other establishments.  There was a breakfast place down the road from our house that we used to frequent every Sunday morning.  At the time we were living in an apartment, being in the process of relocating to Macon.  Our Sunday morning ritual was to eat breakfast as we reviewed the real estate section of the local newspaper to see what Open Houses we wished to visit.  The house that we eventually bought was in the same vicinity as the apartment complex, so we would still visit our breakfast place on a regular basis, although not quite as frequent.  Then they started the “Hi, welcome to…!” stuff, and now we will go months on end before visiting.

The next thing I knew, the hair salon that I go to started the same thing.  I walk in and everyone yells “Hi, welcome to…!”   If I didn’t really like my stylist, I would probably be finding a new place to go, but I’ve tried to ignore the practice.  But it is hard to carry on a conversation with her about what I want done to my hair as she has to pause to yell “Hi, welcome to…!”  And once we have taken care of the instructions, it is hard to carry on a casual conversation with her having to constantly pause to yell “Hi, welcome to…!”

I asked her why they were doing it and she said that it was what the owner wanted.  That’s interesting, as that is exactly the same answer that I got from our waitress at the breakfast place.  I’m sure that is the same answer you’d get from countless other service folks who are forced to engage in this nightmare of a customer service practice.  None of the employees knows why they are really supposed to do it, and most of them don’t like doing it, but it is what the “boss” wants, so they do it.  Obviously, the owners or managers really don’t understand why they shouldn’t have their employees doing this horrible customer service nightmare.  They would if they understood Whole Person Dynamics™ and the DISC Model.

For example, I score high on the D dimension and low on most of the other dimensions, especially the S scale.  While I certainly don’t mind being the center of attention, as evidenced by my many professional presentations each year in front of large audiences, I don’t care to be the center of attention in public.  I have too many years of law enforcement behind me that tells me that it is best to be quite and watch others, rather than to have them watch me.  This keeps me “in control,” one of the main drivers for a person with a high D style.  And while I don’t care to be the center of public attention in my private life for safety reasons, I do want to be the center of attention of the person who is providing me with service.  Focus on taking care of me and then you can move on to taking care of the next person.  But this doesn’t happen when you constantly have to stop to yell at the next customer coming in the door “Hi, welcome to…!”

Given the four behavioral styles of DISC, probably only people with high I tendencies would really appreciate having people welcome them to the establishment in such a boisterous manner.  They like the camaraderie and “party-like” atmosphere.  And they wouldn’t mind being interrupted to welcome another person to “the party.”  They revel in this sort of atmosphere, while the other three styles would have varying degrees of negative reaction to it.  For example, the high S style, while enjoying interaction with other people, wouldn’t want to be made the center of attention by having everyone stop what they were doing and welcoming them to the establishment.  This is going to put them off, and may keep them from coming back.  The high C style would find the excitement a bit too much “in your face” and feel that the establishment is not as efficient as it could be, with all the constant interruptions.  And the high D style would not like to have to deal with the constant interruptions as they are trying to engage in business.  They want the attention, want to be taken care of, and then you can move on to the next person as they exit.

So only about 25% of the population will find this sort of greeting welcome.  Some tolerate it quietly, while others grumble about it openly or simply just avoid it entirely by never returning to your establishment.  Perhaps the number that avoid you because of this practice is only 15% to 25% of your potential customers, but are you really doing so well in your business that you can afford to lose that amount of business?

Clearly for the Mexican restaurant this practice is a core component to their culture.  It is part of who they are.  They are boisterous, rowdy, and noisy.  After one visit you know this.  If it appeals to you, or you can at least tolerate it, then you return.  But for most establishments that have adopted this practice it is just another set of Rules that employees endure and go through the motion of doing.  Their hearts aren’t in it, and it really doesn’t add to the atmosphere of the establishment.  If this is your organization, then I recommend that you stop doing it immediately, and find a way to welcome customers to your establishment that will reach all of your customers, no matter what their behavioral style.  Use your welcome to build relationships and Trust, and stop aggravating them just as soon as they walk in the door.  Instead of placing emphasis on a fake show of customer attention, perhaps it would be best to actually give each customer the individual attention that they crave based on their behavioral style.

Do this and you might see the mood of your customers improve dramatically, along with the attitude of your employees because they no longer “have to” do something that they don’t like and don’t know why they are doing it.  Instead, teach your employees how to reach customers individually, provide them with good service, and you will end up with a much more enjoyable experience for both customers and employees.  In the end, customers return and employees stay and perform exceptionally.  Both of these are necessary if an organization is to become exceptional at increasing performance and returns.


Make a Great Day!