Friday, January 25, 2008

How Hard is it to Smile and Say Hello?

I just went to my city hall to pay my taxes. The woman behind the counter looked at me as I waited for her to finish with the gentleman in front of me. Although she looked directly at me, she did not in any way acknowledge me. No smile, no "hi," no "I will be right with you." Not even a nod.

How did this make me feel? VERY uncomfortable. VERY unimportant. VERY invisible. The strange thing is that she did look at me. How hard would it have been to add some sort of human contact to make me feel welcome? Literally she might have had to make the slight physical effort to raise the corners of her lips into a smile. Or move the muscles in her neck to nod. But seriously not much effort at all.

So why didn't she do it? My guess is that no one, not her bosses or her customers ever bothered to let her know the impact of her inaction. Probably no one taught her how to be kind and welcoming. In fact no one ever spent anytime helping her understand the importance of greeting her customer.

Just because she is a civil servant doesn't mean that we residents aren't her customers. And ALL customers (no matter what you call them: clients, patrons, patients, guest, buyer, member, or enrollee) deserve your warm greeting.

Start paying attention to how you are treated. As you become more aware of how you are treated it will be easier to judge how well you are doing with greeting your customer. And if you are a manager, start training your employees on what a good greeting looks and sounds like. Then reward them whtn they do it correctly.

Customers may not tell you how they feel...but they will tell their friends. Make sure they are telling good stories about you.