There is nothing that makes me angrier than being ignored. Well, there are a few things but as a CUSTOMER, being ignored is unforgivable. It’s rude. It makes me question my loyalty.
Yesterday I stopped by the local Wal-mart where I’d ordered photo prints via the Internet. The pictures were supposed to be completed by 5:30pm. I arrived at 6pm. As I entered the department I made eye contact with the single associate who was helping a woman make a camera purchase.
He didn’t greet me. He didn’t acknowledge my presence. He just continued to talk to the woman, leaning against the counter and answering her questions.
She was still in the decision-making process.
I watched as he unlocked the cabinet and retrieved different models.
THIRTEEN MINUTES LATER.
The woman walked away without purchasing and he asked me “Picking up? Name?”
He walked over to the counter, retrieved the package and handed it to me.
Our transaction took less than 20 SECONDS.
No relationship building.
Is it a training issue? Is it apathy? How hard is it to ask the first woman “Please excuse me for a minute?”
You may be thinking “It was Wal-mart – what else do you expect?”
But I’ve experienced this same scenario at a variety of businesses. We are failing to teach our sales associates how to manage more than one person at a time.
My ex-husband used to tell me that he believed asking to be excused was rude to the first person. Here’s why he is wrong:
- Customers understand that you have more than one customer in your life.
- Often customers appreciate the break in your interaction to think through all you’ve told them.
- Customers know that if they were the second person coming into the department – they’d like to be acknowledged rather than waiting indefinitely.
It isn’t rocket science. It is COMMON COURTESY.
Think about hosting a party. The doorbell rings with the first guest. You invite them in. Take their coat. Offer them a drink.
The doorbell rings again. Do you wait to answer the door until you’ve seated the first guest and fed them the first course?
No. Of course not. You say “Please excuse me for a minute” and you answer the door inviting in the next guest.
Target refers to their customers as GUESTS. Their training views customers as guests in your home. That’s what our customer are – they are guests to our business.
When you think of it that way – it is easy to see how simple it becomes to manage more than one customer at a time.
By asking to be excused – you can ask the second customer “how may I help you today?”
If the customer’s need requires a lengthy experience you can get them started and then return to the first customer.
However, you may find that the second customer only requires a 20 second pick up – like me.
One simple question – how many I help you – and you’ve taken care of a person satisfactorily and can return to the first customer.
Instead – you run the risk of ticking off all of the customers.
Think of it this way. The first customer isn’t blind – they can see you have more than one customer waiting. They become uncomfortable. Maybe even guilty for taking so much time to make a buying decision. Rather than be uncomfortable – they may say “thanks – I’ll need to think about it.” Now you’ve lost the first customer and ticked off the second.
What is your thought on handling more than one customer at a time. Do you agree with my ex-husband – that it is rude and you should focus your entire attention on the first person – or do you agree that managing more than one customer can be done effectively, smoothly and in such a way that you endear yourself to everyone that comes to visit your department/store?