During college, I worked one summer and two holiday breaks delivering pizzas. My initial thought was to drive fast, run to the door, smile, and do my best to make it a pleasant, fast experience – and get good tips! When I was being trained, the store manager gave me two tips that were interesting (and a little surprising).
First, don’t speed – a driver getting into an accident or seen weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds wasn’t good for business for this new shop in this small town. Second, when you leave your car to go to the front door of the home, walk quickly – don’t run, but also don’t walk slowly. The thinking was that if the customer sees you walking slowly, then they may give you a lower tip since it doesn’t look like you’re making the effort. If you run, you could seem (or be) reckless – not a good image.
Fast-forward 20+ years to an Emergency Room (E.R.) patient focus group I facilitated recently. Among the many interesting responses we received from E.R. patients was that they were perturbed if they were waiting in an exam room with little interaction with staff and then saw (or heard) nursing staff or doctors chit-chatting about the latest reality TV show or shopping excursion.
So what’s the connection between these Pizza Delivery and E.R. stories? It’s this – customers often form their perceptions of us in the most unusual times. It’s when they’re waiting for us, watching us, and listening to us – even if they’re not interacting with us.
The pizza customers perceived the driver’s effort and service-orientation in part by how they appeared in going from the car door to the front door. The patients perceived E.R. clinical staff to be wasting time or unconcerned about the patient if the staff were engaged in small talk when the patients were in need of care, communication, and support.
Think about how customers can see you, hear you, and perceive you even when you’re not directly interacting with them. They often form opinions based on those things that surround the “Moment of Truth.”
Watch for the customer’s opportunity to watch you.