Are You Paying Attention?

By on July 20, 2016
Are You Paying Attention?

As a service provider, your main task is to pay attention to the customer and their needs. But how often do we see the opposite occur? Talking with co-workers and ignoring the customer. This customer service mistake occurs more often than you or I could mention. Why does it seem more important to continue talking with a co-worker than establishing a rapport with the customer? How often must we be reminded that the customer is the reason we are here, the reason we have our jobs. Maybe, if we could image the customer’s name on our signed paychecks that would make a difference in our attention efforts.

There is a “Maxine” cartoon that I use in many of my customer service training programs. It’s a picture of Maxine with a shopping bag and the quote is “Have a nice day!” and in parentheses “(someplace else).” People laugh, because they know there’s a hint of truth behind the saying, because at some point and time we have all felt the “coldness” of not being paid attention by a service provider. Have you ever had the experience where you practically had to chase someone down to ask a question about a product or service? Isn’t that what we are saying to our customers when we do not acknowledge their presence, once they enter our place of business? As service providers it’s important to be attentive because every person is important and an essential part of everything we do. Customers are not a necessary inconvenience, but vital to business and we must realize that their needs provide critical direction for what organizations should be about.

Customer Service is a noble profession to be in, and to be proud of … it’s like show business. Once the customer shows up – it’s show time. Service then becomes our #1 priority. Knowing and believing that service is #1 for your organization will certainly enhance your ability to work better with customers, because customers enjoy being valued, don’t you?

One of the many ways we can value customers is to acknowledge them, whether through a warm greeting, a smiling face or a genuine interest in why they are doing business with us. The goal of businesses every day is to create more value for the customer in hopes of getting and holding on to their business. Doing this is simply stated: create more value, get more money. The important thing is this: value must be in place before you can expect business.

Think about it … who’s responsible for creating value for your organization? Everyone is! What if you don’t serve customers directly? Are you still responsible for creating value? You bet! Perhaps you’ve heard someone inside the organization complain, “those darn people in purchasing!” The unspoken part of the message is that some employees in the organization don’t relate what they do to adding value for customers.

What I am about to share with you is a true story from one of my customer service training sessions. One of the participants shared with the group that he worked for a fast food establishment for several years and was successfully moving up the corporate ladder, he had recently been promoted to assistant manager. Well, one day two workers called in sick, which of course created more work for other staff members, especially the assistant manager. A drive-thru customer had rolled down his window in hopes of placing his order, but had to wait at least four to five minutes once he reached the intercom. When it was finally time for him to give the order, his voice was stressed and he was certainly frustrated and voiced his concern for such a long wait. The response he received from the assistant manager was, “there’s another fast food restaurant down the street, if you don’t like the service.” Needless to say, that assistant manager no longer works for that organization.

You see, sometimes we get so busy at “work” with “work” that we forget about the customer and forget to pay attention. The fact is that the job of every employee, directly or indirectly, is about serving customers. Remember every employee is an extension of the company. And in every transaction, the customer is thinking, “Is there value here? Is it consistent with my expectations? Is it improving?” The challenge you face is putting together and driving forward a commitment to adding value for customers in every individual in your organization.

When everyone in the organization understands that their job is to serve customers by simply paying attention, this becomes an important point of separation from the competition. Now, are you paying attention?

About Karin Fowler

Karin is the Senior Program Manager and Customer Service Business Practice Leader at St. Louis Community College, Workforce Solutions Group (WSG) Division, where she manages the Metropolitan Education Training (MET) Center. She manages and develops workshops in Customer Service, Career Development, Resume Writing, Interviewing and Leadership skills. She has been a Customer Service Business Practice Leader and Facilitator with the Workforce Solutions Group since July 1999. Karin has extensive experience in the areas of customer service development, training and delivery. In addition, she also manages on-site contracts to develop and deliver training for displaced and adult workers for coaching and career strategies. Karin consistently receives high praise on course evaluations with such comments as - “Karin’s inner personal attitude makes you want to be better,” “Helped me take a look at myself and helped me with better customer service; “Kept the audience involved” and “Karin re-integrated main points as examples during our group discussions and activities.”

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