How to Greet Customers in the Age of Coronavirus

Waist up portrait of two colleagues wearing face masks bumping elbows while greeting each other at work in office

COVID-19 has changed many things about the way the world does business – including the way professionals greet each other. Handshakes require close proximity and physical contact. As a result, although these are traditional and socially acceptable methods of greeting clients and making customers feel welcome, in the age of coronavirus they are no longer recommended.

So how do you greet your clients and customers professionally without risking the spread of COVID-19? Businesses around the world have been implementing new handshake alternatives to help reduce the spread of coronavirus while still getting business meetings and small professional gatherings off on the right foot. 

Alternatives to the Traditional Handshake

A variety of new greetings have emerged now that handshakes are off the table. Here are a few to consider if you’re going to be having in person meetings with clients or customers but you’re still hoping to maintain social distance.

The Friendly “Hello”

This greeting requires no physical movement or interaction at all. A simple verbal hello in a warm, friendly tone can help to kick off your meeting or get-together with no chance of physical contact. 

This can of course be paired with a casual wave, or a gesture that indicates your client should follow you to the conference room or welcomes and guides them to wherever you’ll be gathering. 

The Friendly Wave

A wave is a great way to greet someone from a distance. It’s a familiar and welcoming gesture that, again, requires no physical contact and can be done easily and recognizably from a reasonable distance away. 

The Hand on the Heart

Placing your hand gently over your heart is another new greeting that has started to gain popularity as handshakes have started to fall by the wayside due to the coronavirus. It is a simple yet meaningful and sincere gesture that can indicate your care for those you are interacting with.

The Bow

A bow is a traditional greeting in many countries, but it has become increasingly popular in the US lately, as it is a showing of respect that requires no physical interaction and can be done at a distance. Some choose to pair the bow with their hands pressed together, palms aligned and fingers pointing upwards.

The Elbow Bump

This greeting caught on early during the pandemic as an alternative to handshakes, but it is no longer as highly recommended. While it is better than a handshake in that it does not put hands directly in contact with one another, it still brings people into close proximity and it does involve a minimal amount of physical interaction. 

It’s also important to note that over the course of the pandemic, we have been encouraged to cough and sneeze into our elbows. This means that touching elbows with another individual may facilitate the transfer of some harmful germs. While this is an alternative greeting you may be presented with, it may not be the best one to engage in now that we know more about how the virus spreads.

The Footshake

Like the elbow bump, this greeting is one that emerged soon after the pandemic began. It involves touching the inside of one of your feet, then the other, against the inside of the foot of the person you are greeting. 

While this greeting is also a minimal contact option, performing it brings people within 6 feet of each other, which violates the general social distancing guidelines. If you’re looking for a completely contact-free option, you may want to choose another handshake alternative that keeps you outside of the 6-foot radius of others.

COVID-19 Greetings Are Here to Stay

Phased reopening is underway in many parts of the country, but coronavirus is not a thing of the past – yet.

In order to keep ourselves and our clients and customers safe as we work towards getting business back to normal, adopting alternative handshake options is an important strategy to implement, along with wearing masks and maintaining social distance protocols.

Speaking of wearing masks – greetings aren’t the only interactions that have been impacted by the Coronavirus. Communication in general is a bit more difficult these days due to required face coverings. These tips for communicating effectively while wearing a mask can help you as you greet clients and customers, and in your ongoing conversations with them once you’ve gotten beyond your initial ‘hello.’

Curious about other changes you can expect in the workplace in the wake of COVID-19? We’ve put together some predictions for what office life might look like as things move back towards normal.

Still working remotely for the time being? Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of online meetings.