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Understanding your role when facing customers

August 21, 2017

It seems to me that several people working with the public, both on the telephone or at the counter, do not really understand what their role is in front of customers.

I was at a car dealership last week for a routine inspection. As many customers remain there while waiting for the work to be completed, they sensibly installed a coffee area where you can find bottled water, fruits and other little treats. It is a friendly place where the customer helps himself. 

Arrived early enough, I was in the coffee corner with other customers. We all noticed that the machine did not work. Thus, I went down at the welcome counter to inform the staff about it.

I approached the receptionist by saying: "Hi!" and ask her if there was an "expert" to run the coffee machine. Although my question was a little embellished with images, her facial expression showed all the signs of someone who does not want to understand. Without greeting me nor smiling, she said simply: "no". To this, I replied: " well all right, then let me present you the problem differently. Can you send anybody to the coffee corner, the machine does not work? " So little talkative she was, she briefly noded her head and turned around.

What concerns me is that, a few seconds later, her attitude completely changed when a colleague arrived near her desk to take keys in a drawer. Then, she demonstrated that she could smile and even say more than one word.

The colleague will have all her attention and favors, whereas a customer will have to wait. A proof of that? A little later another customer approached the counter to ask something and she had to wait 2-3 seconds before the employee dared looking at her.

I often wonder why certain people, having a job in relation with customers, are not more proactive or customer centric. These attitudes which suggest that we disturb them will eventually harm the company. The customers can see quite well that the colleague is better served than them. Wasn't there anybody to show this receptionist how to "greet" customers and make them feel welcomed?

When we hire staff or show someone the work which he/she has to do, we often neglect the "greet the customer" section amongst the tasks to be achieved. Of course, reports must be presented this way and delivered at a specific time. When you leave, you have to tidy up your documents and put them there and, when answering the phone, you have to say this. However, when do we look at: "smile and make eye contact, stand up when talking to a customer, escort them rather than pointing, offer a coffee, a magazine while waiting, etc?

But what about considering the work environment especially with all the customers who can be around you? To look at them. To smile and to greet them before they do. Get up from your seat, accompany rather that just point, demonstrate a positive, inviting and interested attitude towards the customers. And the colleagues? Well, they will have to understand that the conversation has to wait a little because we are serving a customer.

 

That is called: " checking your service attitude ". A culture dedicated to the customer experience starts by raising awareness of all the staff. Do we understand or know the factors which influence the quality of the interactions with the customers?

What are these tips which will help acquire and maintain a positive attitude, not only for the receptionist, but also for all staff members? Customer service is everybody's business. It is not a flavor of the month; it should be the very first line on all job descriptions: serve the customers and in a adequate way.

This is to say that it might be necessary for you to reconsider the customer approach in your company or department to obtain new results. Unarguably, the colleagues deserve all the respect which we owe them, but, in the end, it is the customer who pays the bills. Now, the thing to do it is to pay attention to them.

By the way, the coffee machine was repaired and the coffee was excellent!

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