I’ve been considering this topic for quite some time but wasn’t sure it was worth addressing until a recent trip to New York City.

Having been out to dinner, we returned to our hotel and were waiting for the elevator to make its way to the ground floor. When the door finally slid open there was a young lady getting ready to disembark. Also, in the elevator, but tucked over to the side where the floor keypad is located, was a young man who was an employee of the hotel.

As we waited, the young lady began to step out of the elevator car, only to be cut off by the hotel employee. There was a look of confusion and shock on the young lady’s face as was on mine. Although it took a few nanoseconds to register with me what had just occurred, I yelled at the young man, “Hey dude, the customer goes first!”. To which he just kept on walking without acknowledging the comment.

As I turned back to the young lady, she said “no kidding, right?”, which gave me hope that this courtesy was still expected by a much younger generation.

Yield the right of way!

I’m not sure where I learned about this or whether it was just an extension of my upbringing, but whenever I crossed paths with a customer, I yielded the right of way. It’s a pretty simple and respectful philosophy that just became second nature to me over the years of retail sales and service.

For the most part, letting the customer go first, is still the norm, but I’m seeing a marked increase in number of instances where employees blatantly cut off customers in a retail setting. These individuals are completely oblivious of this simple protocol.

In addition, I’ve frequently watched as employees and customers converge at a doorway or in an aisle and instead of them holding the door or allowing the customer to go first, the employee just continues on as though they have the right-of-way. This is just wrong!

Customer expect to be treated with respect

The point of this is, our employees are an extension of our business image and values. More often than not they are the front line, customer facing vehicle of your company. How they act or conduct themselves reflects directly on your organization. Customer expect to be treated with respect and courtesy.

Although you may not think you need to explain these norms to employees, I’m letting you know, it’s one more thing you need to address. Assuming that employees get it, is always a mistake. Just consider the hotel example. So, if you expect employees to act in a certain way, then the only way to ensure a certain behaviour is to tell them what you expect.

It defines superior customer service

On the other hand, if you don’t think an employee cutting off a customer or not holding a door is no big deal, then you may have bigger problems, because it matters. You need to care at the granular level about these service issues. It’s part of what defines superior customer service and professionalism. It’s about respecting your customers.

Because respecting your customer, will never go out of fashion.

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