There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment. A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant. But that’s not the only thing that can bring a tear to my eye.
Walking into a fast food restaurant, I stood back from the cashiers to determine what I wanted. After deciding, I walked to the counter and the two cashiers, both of which were available. This is how the conversation started:
- Cashier #1: “Can I help…oh, she’ll take your order.”
- Cashier #2: “No, she’ll take your order.”
- Cashier #1: “No, she’ll take your order.”
- Cashier #2: “No…well, okay. What would you like?”
This dialogue would have been very flattering had they substituted “I” for “she,” but the conversation made it obvious that, even though neither was doing anything, they’d prefer continuing to do nothing rather than help me buy their product.
Sometimes we complain about how many companies and many employees are more task-focused than customer-focused. But this company was more focused on inaction than action. While we desperately hope this experience is a rarity in your business, there are things to learn from the interaction that can help any business succeed.
First, hire people with not only the attitude of wanting to help others but also the energy to act on those impulses. Next, come up with a mantra that promotes productivity. One restaurant tells its staff to remember during slow times that “if you’re leaning (against the wall) you should be cleaning.” Finally, create a proactive work environment. The more reactive a culture is, the more likely they are to be passive when there’s not a fire to fight. Proactive cultures promote the seeking of action and progress.
Work to create an atmosphere of “I’ll take your order.”