When you or your staff is serving retail customers, give them your complete attention until the transaction is finished. Don’t talk to co-workers or friends, be on the phone, or show indifference to the customer. This should be part of any training program for new employees and reinforced regularly. You can hang a sign in the back room or employee areas to stress how important this is.
Customers get frustrated when they want to ask a question or discuss the transaction and they can’t get the attention of the person who is supposed to be serving them. I’ve even had a young salesperson with headphones on bouncing up and down while the music was blasting into her ears. She couldn’t hear anything I was asking. If an employee has to lift up an earphone to hear you, it feels as if you’re bothering her. This sort of employee behavior should never be allowed in your store.
Another customer annoyance is when an employee is on the phone discussing something personal while people are waiting for service. You should have a policy of no personal calls (unless there’s a real emergency), and cell phones should be off for anyone working in a customer service area.
Also, your employees’ friends should not be allowed to come into the store and talk to your employees for more than two minutes during working time. And if friends are there to be customers, they should be waited on at the same speed as any other patron— the employee should promptly move to the next person when the transaction is finished.
If you don’t have set policies in force, some employees (especially younger ones) may try to see how far they can test the limits, which weakens your customer service. So explain the rules and policies and observe your employees to verify that they are following them. Repeated violation of these customer-attention policies means that this employee is not right for your business and should be replaced.
Also, be sure to call or drop-in unexpectedly to see what’s happening when you’re not there. If you can’t trust an employee, how can you keep him? You need people who believe in and follow your customer service procedures. It’s the only way you can leave your business and know everything is being done correctly. Customers should receive the same excellent attention regardless of whether you are present.