Here I Am…Acknowledging Our Customers

Mike-Stein-newsletterLast Monday I was on my way to a local dealer for a short visit.  What I had originally planned on being a two hour drive turned into three and a half hours, as I sat in bumper to bumper traffic on a snowy two lane highway, waiting for an accident to clear.  As I was now running late, I decided to skip lunch in an attempt to make up for lost time, which only added to my agitation.

  I am now behind schedule, hungry, and tired as I left very early in the morning in a plan to be at the dealer by a certain time.  My anticipation of walking into the store and getting down to business hit a brick wall as I was forced to wait uncomfortably, standing upright, in the front of a service department without so much as the advisor acknowledging my presence for a very long 10 minutes.

A service advisor appeared to be busily typing something on his computer while doing his best to avoid eye contact with me; all of which I noticed, and none of which I cared about because I was still waiting.   After 10 minutes, another employee/service advisor came from the back, greeted me with a smile and asked me how she could be of service.  At this point I was of the mind-set of extreme frustration.  Was it the 10 minutes I waited that frustrated me so? No, not really.  In retrospect, it was the events of the day that had transpired up and to this point. 
Let’s recap quickly:

  1. I had hit massive traffic.
  2. I was hungry because I skipped lunch that day.
  3. I was running late and the rest of my day’s plans were in jeopardy of gong out the window. 

The truth of the matter is that having to wait a few minutes for a service advisor to finish up what they were doing to pay me the proper attention is not unrealistic. The problem for the dealership was that they had no control over the events that took place in “my day” leading up to that point.  However, they were now the ones that had to deal with my outright frustration and irritation.
This situation unfortunately is not an uncommon occurrence in many stores across the country.  More often than not, this is your customer walking in. We (as a dealership) have no idea what his/her daily events were before they walked in, so we have no way of knowing what their current mind-set is.  Understanding this makes it all that more important to acknowledge our customers and let them know that:

  • We know that they are there
  • They will be attended too

Acknowledgement of our customers is an extremely crucial part of the work we do.  We are in the business of breaking down barriers and building customer confidence.  Getting off on the right foot is key to ensuring these activities occur.  All it takes is a few simple words to put them at ease and defuse a potentially volatile situation.  At the core of the basic human need is the need to be acknowledged. People need to know that others see them.  It may not be the dealer’s fault that the customer has had a bad day, but rest assured, if the service they receive at your store is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” in their world…they will hold you responsible!


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