Sunday, 13 November 2011

Talk to me, I'm a customer!

Two shop-assistant incidents where a chance for a wow was missed.

First - in the gi-normous Waterstone's store in Piccadilly, London. I went up to the counter with a new book to buy. There were no other customers queuing. The staff behind the counter had been chatting as I approached. Perfectly OK. But as one of them served me they continued their conversation, only speaking occasional words to me.

I thought, "What do I have to do to make you pay attention to me? Wave a sign saying 'hello, I'm a customer'? Do a strip-tease in the middle of the shop?"

That's one of my pet hates - shop assistants who talk to each other and ignore their customers. If they draw the customer into their conversation then great, but if they ignore the customer then they're ignoring the people who ultimately pay their wages. Not a good move!

Then this morning, in Waitrose in Hexham, Matt and I were in the queue at the checkout behind a dear old gentleman on his own. He tried to engage the young female cashier in conversation. Nothing remotely creepy, just a friendly chat.

She wasn't having any of it. She hardly spoke a word to him while she served him. And she hardly spoke a word to us either.

For us - meh. We've got each other to talk to. But that gentleman might not see or speak to another human being for days on end. A friendly chat with a kind person at the checkout would make his week, never mind his day.

Contrast that with the staff in every branch of Pret a Manger I've ever visited, who always talk to their customers, greet them in a friendly way, ask "How are you today?" and sound like they really do care about the answer.

Customer service managers, please encourage your staff to talk to their customers!

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