By Joan Endicott
Everyone in every business should consider themselves in customer service, regardless of how large or small. So, what’s happening? Why aren’t customers treated like guests, rather than intruders in most businesses? Great question! Short answer: Because the leadership and/or customers don’t demand it!Case in point: How often do you walk into a store where there is a plethora of cash registers, but alas, no one around to actually run said cash registers? Recently, as a customer walked up to pay for his items, he walked toward a register with two employees standing next to it, (who were arguing about other things they were going to do elsewhere in the store) only to be told “we’re closed,” pointing to the only open register, with a line several people deep already.As the customer went to stand in line, he noticed the poor employee at the register was evidently new. He was doing his best, but had a question on about every transaction and needed help from one of the employees who was deep in conversation. Evidently she was the manager. With a sigh, she would mosey over, insert her magic key in the register, punch a few buttons and then walk back over and resume what was clearly a critical conversation. Apparently it was much more important than taking care of the customers standing in this unreasonably long line for an unnecessary amount of time. Had these employees been trained on the true value of the customer, they would know that stocking products and doing paperwork are the things you ignore/or put on hold, not people (aka customers)!I understand the challenges of working retail, sales, etc. I did it for years. Starting as a sophomore in high school, my second retail job was working from Fred Meyer in Gresham, Ore., in the bakery, then I became the first female “box boy,” then became a journeyman cashier as a senior in high school and continued through college. It was a different world then with no computers and no conveyer belts. We did three things simultaneously. After greeting the customer with a smile, (because without them, I have no job or paycheck to pay for my car or my college tuition) we pulled the shopping cart close enough to take each item out as we said the price aloud, keyed it into the 1970s’ cash register (without looking at the register — we were required to learn this skill because of how much more efficient it was) and then bagged the item, all in one motion.As a business, you have two choices: value the customer or not. As a consumer, fortunately, you have choices too.Award-winning speaker, author and “giant slayer” coach Joan Endicott works with individuals and organizations to improve performance, productivity and profit in business and life. Visit, or call 453-8056.