Oh wait, are they? Sometimes it seems like companies write this in their help wanted ad, “Seeking anyone who growls, scowls, and grimaces when customer speaks to them. Best if mentally strong enough to not even reply with words, only grunts. Bonus will be paid out if you make the customer visually confused from your seemingly random unpleasantness. If this sounds like you, apply here.”
This is exactly what I encountered the other day at a local cafe/bakery. It’s in a part of town that is known for, well, not exactly putting out a “welcome” mat. It’s all popped collars and Mercedes, and it’s sometimes a bit uncomfortable. But the closest location of this bakery shut down, and their food is crazy good. So uncomfortableness be darned, I went! I mean, they have the best gosh darn deal and sandwiches around – a succulent roast beef sandwich on pillowy pretzel bread, a gourmet side salad, and a chocolate chip cookie bigger than your head. For $7.95. Much better deal than the company that my husband and I have a personal vendetta against (yet keep going back to), one that maybe rhymes with Shmanera Bread Co.
Anyways, as I walked up to the counter, I started to get a bit confused. None of the employees were talking to me, just staring. I thought, maybe this location works differently? Maybe I don’t order here? Maybe I have to do an interpretive dance for someone to speak? Who knows! My husband tells me, go ahead, order. But to who? The one who is staring off and thinking about what he wants for lunch instead of me? Or the one who looks like he’s in physical pain just listening to me?
So, I just talked “at” them and whoever caught the order, so be it. At that point I was just hoping for food on a plate instead of their spit. I did deserve it, I had dared to order! And although the food was just as mouthwatering, the experience was what really stood out in my mind. I mean, why the long face? Why soo obviously and clearly irritated that you’re working? It certainly doesn’t send the right message to the clientele, ones who have plenty of money to spend on catering luncheon events.
It won’t keep me from going back, for now. But, it would if it keeps happening. Or, if I found another place that’s almost as good as this one. I’d be out of there in no time. And if I was looking to spend some serious cash, I really would hesitate. How reliable are people that would apparently rather go to the DMV than take my order?!
Training your employees in how to serve customers matters. Certainly the front-facing ones, but even those who don’t. The entire company exists to serve customers. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them, at all times. Many companies just assume that employees know how to treat customers. They don’t. How will they know unless you tell them? Some companies like sass. Some like class. And some companies like nothing but smiles.
Telling your employees what you want for your business is crucial. And, be specific. Inform your employees how you’d like customers treated when they’re mad, when they’re new, when they’re confused. Expectations not only help the customer, but also the employee. The vast majority want to put a smile on the boss’s face, and possibly extra dollars on their paycheck. So, show them how. Don’t lose a potential customer because they would rather be audited than interact with your employee.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever had a similar experience!