Business loves customers. After all, without them, there is no business. If you’re in retail, sales or any other customer-contact business, you want those customers coming in the door in droves any time of the day or evening. More customers equal more business and more revenue to keep things going.
Customers, on the other hand, want service whenever they decide to shop. Workers need to take a break once in a while, run to the bank for change, or just grab a few minutes to eat a quick bite. These two legitimate needs often clash when customers come up to the door of a business or want to check out at a counter and find a sign saying, polite as you please, “Back in a few minutes.”
Gus Lubin’s article in the Business Insider was more of a plea to service workers. The note itself isn’t the problem, it’s the timeframe. What does “back in five minutes” mean? Five minutes from when? Unless you put the time you posted the sign, customers have no idea how long they will have to wait.
This brings up another phrase we use when we have to be absent for a little while. “I’ll be back A.S.A.P.” “As Soon As Possible” sounds polite and professional, but is also one of the most subjective phrases used (overused) in business. To the customer it means right away—what’s taking you so long? To the service worker, it could mean in a few minutes, half an hour, or whenever I finish my lunch and catch up on text messages.
While customers don’t like waiting, they have some annoying habits as well. If you work in a retail clothing store, you’ve probably had to deal with a customer who constantly brings clothing items back, with no tags and no receipt, insisting on a refund. Some of the clothing is obviously worn with telltale sweat rings under the arms, stretched out waistbands or stains from a night of partying.
Customers like to ask questions, which gives service reps a chance to talk about the products benefits and help make a sale. It’s the obvious questions, like “how many chicken nuggets do you get in a six-piece order,” that drive service workers crazy. Or the customer who has had it with a crying child and decides the stock person is the perfect stand-in babysitter. A Business Insider article listed several customer habits that drive retail workers crazy, such as asking a zoo worker how much it would cost to let her child play with the cute baby tigers.
It’s pointless and a little rude to try to correct or scold a customer who obviously crosses a line or really does ask a pointless question. Besides, service reps aren’t there to judge the merit of questions or actions of customers. They are there to be professionals, listen and help as best they can. Customers judge the business by the kind of service they get. Most are happy to pay a little bit more for the same item if it means getting better, kinder, friendlier service—before, during and after the sale.
Photo Source: Freedigitalphotos.net: Salvatore Vuono