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Don’t Ignore Your Customers

I hate being ignored. Yet it happens a lot at businesses I patronize. I walk in, and generally I’m left to look around when no one acknowledges or makes eye contact with me.

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Jason Stahl has 27 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 15 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

I hate being ignored. Yet it happens a lot at businesses I patronize.

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It goes like this. I walk in, and generally I’m left to look around when no one acknowledges or makes eye contact with me. It leaves me feeling unimportant, undervalued and, most importantly, unaware of my status: will I be attended to soon? How long will the wait be? What can I do in the meantime?

Here’s an example. I recently went to a restaurant, and when I walked in, a large party was standing in front of the hostess desk. I assumed they were going to be seated shortly, but the more I waited and the more I was ignored, the more I thought that maybe they were waiting for additional members of their party to arrive. Which begged the question, why couldn’t little ol’ me, party of two (I was expecting another person), have been acknowledged with at least a, “We’ll be right with you, sir.” That’s all I needed. But instead, I ended up standing around, twiddling my thumbs, frustrated that this massive party was milling around the waiting area and all I wanted was to sit down. I tried to make a plea via eye contact, but the hostesses acted as if I wasn’t there. And I made sure to stand away from the large party so it didn’t look like I was with them.

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Unfortunately, this sad scene plays out in a lot of businesses I visit. I was taught at a restaurant chain I used to work at to acknowledge the customer within 45 seconds of their arrival. Even if the customer didn’t sit in your station, if you noticed they didn’t have a napkin in front of them yet, you were instructed to greet them and tell them their server would be with them shortly.

When a customer enters your facility, are they greeted right away? Or are they left to wander around and eyeball your awards mounted on the wall because they have nothing better to do?

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There’s another restaurant chain that never fails to impress me in that they open the door for you every time you arrive and say, “Welcome to ABC Grille!” Wouldn’t that be something if you did that?

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