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Friday, November 17, 2006

On Small Business: Do not hover over your customers

I don't walk around expecting to have business epiphanies at every turn, but it seems every time I am out simply "being a customer", something like this happens.

I was at the local Hallmark store yesterday, looking for a birthday card for my wife. As you probably know, there are row upon row of cards for all occasions, so I was taking my time looking them over. I usually try to find a card that has the proper sentiment, but also one where can add my own words to make the message more personal.

As I was pulling out this card and that, a member of the staff approached and started placing cards onto the rack. For whatever reason, perhaps because I was looking for something for my wife, or because I felt my space being invaded or even the fact I didn't want to be judged for my choices, it made me uncomfortable. I continued looking for a while, but the staffer drew nearer and nearer. Finally, she reached across, right in front of me to place some more cards on the rack.

That was it. I was out of there.

Now, I know that workers need to accomplish their work, re-stock shelves, etc, but they should never "hover" over a customer, unless that customer directly asks for their assistance. I liken it to the overzealous fast food workers who insist on cleaning your table while you are still using it. I have had people spray their cleaning products on me and in my face, seemingly oblivious to their rudeness.

This staffer could have easily returned a few minutes later when I had made my purchase or moved to a different area of the store. Instead, though, they were caught up in their own priorities and drove me out of their store.

If you are the owner or manager of a retail store, make sure that your employees know some basic facts about customer service. Reward those who exemplify proper services and gently correct those who don't. In my particular case, I have to place some blame on the store manager, who could have noticed what was happening and helped to prevent it.

What are the small issues that prevent you from shopping at certain stores? Share you comments using the link below.

Previous "On Small Business" articles:

On Small Business: The Kindness of Friends

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