Pay attention to the customer in front of you.

One of the worst things a customer service representative can do is to be distracted. It can kill an otherwise acceptable customer service experience in about a minute.

I was at my vet’s office today and as I went to pay and leave, the lady who was checking me out was distracted. She was helping another employee, answering the phone, and generally just not paying attention to me (the customer standing in front of her). The phone calls weren’t quick phone calls, either – one of them was a several minute discussion with another employee regarding her schedule. At one point, she was holding my credit card while talking on the phone. She didn’t apologize once.

Needless to say, this made the customer service experience significantly less enjoyable. It took more than 15 minutes for me to pay with a credit card and for the checkout process to end. And it took so long solely because the lady was distracted. If she was paying attention and helping me, it would have been a 5 minute process. It would have been a fairly smooth process and it would have been just fine (the lady was nice enough).

Focusing on the customer that happens to be standing right in front of you is critically important. It seems like common sense, but it isn’t always followed. The customer in front of you is the one waiting on you to do something and waiting on you to help them. It is different than waiting on hold or waiting for an email to be answered – they’re right there. And when someone is right in front of you, you shouldn’t ignore them or make them wait.

3 Responses to “Pay attention to the customer in front of you.”

  1. Joseph Wilburn said:

    Aug 27, 08 at 7:28 pm

    I cannot agree with this advice more. I had been travelling recently and many of the hotel front desk staff were distracted from the task at hand (ie. checking me in).

    The main causes ran the gamut from just not having enough support to disengaged from the entire job (and you can tell that!). “Pay attention to the customer” is a good mantra to have in the back of your mind, so you don’t ignore or delay a customer when those busy times (inevitably) occur.

  2. Service Untitled said:

    Aug 27, 08 at 11:26 pm

    Joseph,

    Exactly. When the person helping you is disengaged, it is painfully obvious and really detracts from the customer service experience. Keeping that “the customer is there” mantra in mind is definitely useful.

  3. Bookmarks about Attention said:

    Sep 30, 08 at 2:00 pm

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