By Nancy Friedman, Founder/Chairman, Customer Service Speaker, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

Anyone who has ever “worked” a booth at a trade show knows it’s just that – WORK!

Lots of work. And sometimes no lunch. Often long hours and the long hours are sometimes not very busy. So, add “boring “to the list.

Believe it or not, not being busy can make you more tired than when you are busy. Being busy at a trade show is adrenaline for so many of us. It keeps the blood flowing when our booth is busy!

Bottom line, put all those items together and sometimes our customer service manners get forgotten while working a booth.

Booth customer service is an overlooked art. Here are five Telephone Doctor’s tips on better booth customer service:

  1. EYE CONTACT – In any face-to-face situation, eye contact is a must. Looking around the show floor, trying to see who else is around, looking at your watch, or whatever, is not good customer service to the person you’re interacting with. Lock eyes with your prospect and give them your complete and undivided attention. Don’t let your head turn on a spindle. FOCUS! And for gosh sakes you don’t need to have that deer in the headlight stare at them. Be comfortable.
  1. EXTEND YOUR HAND IMMEDIATELY – We can finally do it! Well, maybe. At least ask: “You still elbowing it? Or shaking hands?” Actually, there are lots of folks who never enjoyed shaking hands or have a fear of it. Look at Howie Mandel. He’s a fist bumper and always has been. Think of it as an in-person store or office visit. Offer yours first. (A HUG might be OK if you feel comfortable and know them and have not seen them in a while.) And don’t forget, they usually have a badge with their name on it; so use their name immediately! And remember it so you don’t need to keep looking at the badge! Have your business card ready/handy. That way it’s much easier to ask for theirs.
  1. DON’T SIT DOWN AT YOUR BOOTH – EVER! This one is difficult, but important. Don’t be caught sitting down unless the client or prospective client is with you. Having a table and chair might work for you with a client. But NO ONE working the booth should sit down just to sit. If you feel tired and you need to sit down, leave the booth. Go somewhere else to sit. Sitting down at the booth gives off bad vibes. Lazy vibes. Attendees tend to pass those sitting down as uninterested booth salespeople. And by the way, checking your cell phone in the booth is not COOL either. Unless it rings. Use non-booth times for phone time. Or go check it AWAY from the booth.
  1. BE CONSIDERATE – People visiting your booth get a ton of stuff they do not want. Often, they take your material just to not hurt your feelings. (Trust me, at the first opportunity, it’s usually pitched. I’ve seen it.) If you have something you’d like to give them and you notice the client is already dragged down with ‘stuff,’ ASK the client or the prospect if they’d like your information mailed to them. Then get their conference card to swipe, or business card and make a note: “client requests information be sent.” And, OF COURSE, when you send the information, include a note thanking them as a reminder they stopped by your booth and wanted this information. And email them it’s on the way. Another added touch you have not forgotten about them.

Find someone who has run out of their business cards? It happens. It shouldn’t, but it does. Take a picture of the client, with their BADGE in full view. Or take a close up of the BADGE so you can read it. You will have a super memory AND their name. Or you can ask them for an email or phone number to add to your cell phone notes. (PS – Booth folks should NEVER run out of business cards. NEVER!

When you get back to the office, you’ll have what is known as ‘warm’ leads. You can call that client or prospect and remind them that you met at the show. (NAME THE SHOW and something to trigger their memory; some folks go to a lot of trade shows and meet a lot of folks they have never met before.) If they stopped at your booth and you promised to send something, ask “when is a good time for you to receive our information?” This customer service tip is most appreciated. It says you understand they have a lot to carry home, a lot going on, and you appreciate their time. (Exception: BE CAREFUL, it might be out of the USA. Double check.)

  1. SMILE – It hurts me to write this one, but when I walk through a trade show, I watch the booths and the vendors sales folks. It’s sad to see how many folks aren’t smiling. Just standing there, hands behind them, looking around without a smile. So last, but not least, remember our Telephone Doctor CARDINAL RULE…A PHONY SMILE IS BETTER THAN A REAL FROWN. If I took pictures of folks manning the booths and showed them how sad/bad they looked, because they’re not smiling, they wouldn’t be too happy. Why wait till a customer comes to the booth to smile? It could be too late. SMILE BEFORE YOU KNOW WHO IT IS!

BONUS TIP: When setting up your booth, try NOT to put up a barrier. A barrier would be a TABLE that PREVENTS attendees from freely entering your booth. Like your home, you should be able to ‘entertain’ those folks in your booth. Get them out of the aisle and into your booth as fast and as best as you can. It’s as though they are “IN YOUR HOME” where you can have a more in depth, serious conversation.

BONUS – BONUS TIP: NO GUM CHEWING by your staff or you in your booth. None, nada, zip. NONE! END OF SUBJECT!

There are hundreds of other booth customer service tips, but getting these tips down are instrumental in making your booth more productive, more successful, and giving BETTER booth customer service to all your prospects, clients, and friends.

Good luck and have fun! After all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.