Amazing Service Rule #2
Acknowledge your customer’s presence
This seems too basic to even mention. What breathing is to living, this rule is to working with customers. So, why even have a rule that deals with it?
Because, as basic and fundamental as this idea is, it still gets forgotten on a regular basis. Every day customers are made “invisible” by employees who are there to serve them. But rather than serving them, they ignore them. They act as if the customers don’t exist. Or maybe it’s wishful thinking. Either way, the problem is rampant and it’s dangerous to any organization.
Remember, 68% of customers leave because of the service they receive. If a customer is ignored, how might they rate their service? (Bad is my prediction.) Customers who are ignored are one step away from being former customers, and unhappy ones at that. They will gladly tell anyone who seems even remotely interested why they left your business. “The employees acted like I was not even there” is what they will say.
But there is good news.
Because the cause of invisible customers is also the cure. Customers become invisible because employees make them invisible. It is a conscious choice by the employees to ignore customers. That is the ONLY way customers can be invisible.
So, the solution is just as simple: Stop ignoring customers.
As an owner or manager, you need to understand what would make an employee ignore their customers. There are many reasons. Bad attitude, too “busy”, misunderstanding priorities, etc. You need to make it clear (with your policies and your own behavior) what the priorities are.
“Customers come first” should be burned into everyone’s brain.
The best way to honor this rule and avoid invisible customers is to make it a point to acknowledge every customer immediately. The second you see a customer, greet them and make eye contact. They need to know you know they are there. Even if you can’t help them at that moment, it’s critical to acknowledge them. Never wait to greet a customer. Make it a habit of greeting them right away.
As a manager or supervisor, take note of when your employees do this and affirm it. Also, encourage employees to do the same for each other. Positive reinforcement may be an old concept but it’s still effective.
On the phone you can acknowledge them by answering their call right away and by not letting them sit on hold for too long. The longer a customer has to wait and wonder when someone will help them, the more likely they are to go elsewhere.
We are entering a period in our economy where perhaps only the best will survive. There will be much less room for mistakes because customers have many more choices. It’s never been more dangerous to deliver bad customer service.