I am sure many of you are split as to which one you think is more “magical”; being efficient or being courteous?  Particularly when it comes to the Customer Experience.  Certainly, if a customer has to wait on a long line because the sales clerk is slow and bogged down in her operation, or if a product takes weeks to be delivered because of an inefficient production process, neither one of these are examples of a magical customer experience.  I get it! However, let me share with your two recent examples I experienced while out shopping as a customer.

Example Number One:  I was shopping at one of my local home improvement stores and was at the paint counter to ask the clerk a simple question and advice of a problem I was having while preparing to paint a small powder room in my home. The sales clerk was busy mixing paint for a customer at the time when I arrived at the counter. Obviously and understandably the clerk was busy. However, not once did the sales clerk look at me, say hello or even tell me he would be right with me as soon as he is done.  He even passed right by me at least three other times with not a simple acknowledgment or grunt. I understood he was busy, but what message did he send me? How do you think I felt at that time?

Example Number Two:  I was waiting at a counter, in a local computer store, while the service clerk was in the back office retrieving my repaired computer. During my wait, three different sales clerks walked right passed me along the counter without even one of them looking at me, saying hello or asking if I needed any help.  Again, what message did they send me and how do you think I felt at the time?

In both examples, I was ignored. There was no doubt that the clerks in both scenarios were busy. But the bottom line is how did I, the customer, feel at the time. What word came to mind from these experiences? They were rude!  I am sure their intent was not to be rude.  However, they were certainly more concerned about efficiency rather than simple courtesy. In fact my perception now is that EVERYONE must be rude at those stores! Is that a fair assumption? Probably not. But that is exactly how I felt. All because I was ignored.

Customers do not want to be ignored. It is that simple, yet many businesses that I visit continue to focus on efficiency over courtesy and not realize the affect it has on the customer experience. Particularly in an negative way. Perhaps their management never shared with the staff the importance of acknowledging customers or even worse, support the staff being efficient and getting the work done over being courteous, friendly or helpful to other customers. The bottom line is customers will always remember people over product or service. It is still taking me awhile for me to get over the fact that I was ignored. Did I have the plague? I certainly felt like I did?

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When I conduct customer experience evaluations or present programs to my clients they all tell me they would feel the same way. We as customers all want to feel important, valued and certainly not just to be a number or transaction. Think about it? Would it be so difficult or affect the operation if any of the people in my two examples had looked up at me and said a simple hello or greeting? Would it have taken too much time out of their busy day? I don’t think so and it wouldn’t even cost any money to do it!

Here are a few tips to prevent you from ignoring your customers.

1.  Always be aware of your surroundings and seek out customer contact.

2. Disney implements a 10 foot radius awareness initiative to greet anyone within that distance who has a heart beat. This includes children and pets!

3.  Make it a game to see if your staff can go a whole shift, workday, week or month without missing saying hello or acknowledging a single customer in your business. Try including co-workers too!

So remember, even in this complex, being efficient and fast paced world, customers just want to feel acknowledged, valued and that you care. Even if it is just a simple smile. Can you and your staff do at least that much? Can you make it a point every day, every minute and every second to acknowledge a customer in your business. I am sure you can do it!  If you do, I promise it will make the customer experience and the workplace a little more “Magical”!