Today I stopped in at the phone store for help; my smart phone has been doing some dumb things lately. I was immediately greeted by a friendly, smiling young man who asked what he could do to help me. As I was explaining the problem, another young man – also behind the counter — walked over and without a glance my direction, interrupted us to ask his co-worker for help with something. Caught off guard, the person helping me automatically responded to the question, but immediately caught himself and turned back my direction, saying “excuse me!”
How often do you see this? Unfortunately, it seems to happen far too often. Co-workers — and supervisors — have no qualms about interrupting each other, even when one is speaking with a customer. What happened to the premise that the customer comes first? Personal plans, thoughts, even work-related issues can typically wait, and if for some reason they can’t, they definitely merit an “Excuse me for the interruption” from the interloper. To do otherwise is not just rude behavior, it’s bad customer service.
When the young man helping me returned, he again apologized for stepping away, which I appreciated. I asked him about the other person and learned he was also an employee — and as it turned out, he had been called in for a meeting to discuss his conduct on the job with company supervisors. Apparently this person was known for his lack of people skills and inability to relate to customers, and most likely was on his way out the door.
While it is sad to see anyone in the position of potentially losing their job, especially during the holiday season, this young man was clearly not cut out for what he was doing. He is a good example of why many companies hire for people skills, knowing they can teach technical skills.
Customer service should be about relating to the customer, first and foremost.