Just Say Hi!

Occasionally, I am asked to walk out of a fast food restaurant without ordering, because they apparently don’t want my business. They don’t actually say it, but their actions make it very clear.

For example, at one restaurant, the person standing behind the counter was making coffee. They turned and looked at me and went back to making the coffee, without acknowledging my presence. Three other employees walked by the counter without saying anything. Given the fact that I am large enough to be easy to spot, it appears that they saw me, but decided it was more important to do what ever they were doing than to say “Hi!, I’ll be with you in a minute.” I didn’t agree and eventually left, because it is my policy not to give my money to people who don’t really want it.

The most important thing you can do for a customer is to let them know you are here for them. When you are the customer, you want people to be there to help you. You want them to care enough to make the time to make you feel welcome. But, they can’t do that with their back to the customer.

Let me be clear, I don’t blame the person behind the counter. I blame the organization for not creating a culture where all the staff understand that making a customer feel welcome is their most important job.

Customers understand that you are busy, that you have to serve other customers and even that you need to make coffee. But none of that is going to be seriously affected by the time it takes to say, “Hi!, I’ll be right with you.”

If you think something else is more important to your success than making your initial contact with a customer a positive, welcoming experience, you might want to review your priorities.

Do you really have enough customers that you can afford to have them walk out on you? Is your product so good that people will put up with being neglected in order to get it? Is that how you want your customers to think, and talk, about your organization?

Is that the type of organization you want to business with?

If your customer is really the reason you are in business (and it’s hard to do a lot of business without them) you should make sure that they know you are happy they chose to do business with you.

Welcome them, say, “Hi!” and let them know that you will help them as soon as you can. Don’t give them a reason to walk out and try the new place down the street – they may say “Hi!” - and mean it.