Look them in the eye

I learned an important lesson from a server at my local McDonalds on Saturday afternoon.  I nipped out to the drive through to buy some burgers for me and my wife.  I placed my order and was then instructed to park and wait for our order (we make changes to the standard meals so they have to make the meals fresh and it takes a little longer).  So I parked in the bay reserved for this sort of thing and waited …

… and waited …

… until about 15 minutes had passed.  By this time I had lost my sense of humour altogether (I am not a cheerful person when I am hungry) and I went into the store and asked where my order was. 

The lady who I spoke to started asking her colleagues if they knew who was handling my order and eventually found the young woman who was supposed to have brought my order to me.  This young woman barely looked at her colleague when she told her that she delivered my order to another waiting car and then shuffled off to do something. 

Two things really bugged me about that exchange.  In the first place the first woman I spoke to walked off in different directions to speak to her colleagues about the misplaced order without letting me know what she was doing and whether I was to follow her or stay where I was (I don’t understand the language she spoke).  That wasn’t a major issue, just poor communication on her part.  What really bugged me was that the young woman who basically gave my order away didn’t bother acknowledging my presence, let alone looking in my general direction and apologising for the mistake.  That really struck me as terrible customer service.  The mistake itself was quickly rectified by the first lady I approached and my order was replaced with freshly made food.  The response to the mistake was more damaging and I will now rather drive an extra few kilometers to buy MacDonalds than go back to that store.

The point I am trying to make here is that it is so important to acknowledge your customers.  Look at them when you deal with them.  Look them in the eye and let them know you see that one person and that you realise that you are assisting an individual, unique human being.  It is so easy to start to see people as the blips in a sea of customers and, in the process, we lose sight of the fact that when we show a customer that we value that customer individually, that really goes a long way towards retaining customers and keeping them happy to do business with you.

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