Ignoring your customer can be emotionally draining

Don't ignore your customer

Recently, my wife and I were at a carry out food establishment. We had never been to this particular establishment before. When we walked through the door, everyone behind the counter seemed to be working, getting orders together, preparing the food, cashing other customers out. Now, I consider myself a patient person. I even excused the fact that no one even greeted us when we walked through the door because of the busy factor that was going on.

Well, I stood there for about 5 to 6 minutes and no one, I mean no one said a word. “Hold on”, “Be with you in a minute”, “Can I help you?”, “Sorry for the wait”, “I see you”, “Can I take your order?” Nothing. Finally, I approached the counter and asked, “Will someone be able to help me?” I was directed to the other end of the counter where I still stood there with no assistance.  After another few minutes, I was able to get my order in, paid for our food and was out of the door. Whew! What an experience. My wife wanted me to wait before saying anything just to see how long it would have taken for my presence to be noticed (I was curious about it too).

For those few minutes of not being recognized, I had some unhappy feelings going through my head. How do you feel when you are ignored? In some of my readings, I have found that being ignored can cause some pretty stressful feelings and mood concerns for the customer. In a post from Street Smart Women, they give the following meaning of ‘What is the Silent Treatment?’

Emotional Abuse – A form of punishment (aka control) designed to cause harm by making the victim feel powerless, invisible, insignificant & non-existent.

In the article by Devin Gackle (5 ways the Silent Treatment Is Really Damaging (And how to deal with it), She talks about the emotional stress such as depression, anger, frustration, rejection and loneliness. She even mentions that your brain is in-tune with being ignored. The anterior cingulate cortex gets activated when someone is receiving the silent treatment. I did experience some of these feelings when I was being ignored at the food establishment.

Let me give four points that would help put the customer in a comforting frame of mind when they are interacting with a service person.

Acknowledge your customers, don't ignore themAcknowledge
Saying hi, you’re welcome, sorry for the wait, thank you for coming. Something to let the customer know you see them and you have not forgotten about them will put their mind at ease that you have not dismissed them.

Make Eye Contact with your customersEye Contact
Meeting a person face to face is different when you meet them face to face with eye contact. Imagine if you and I were talking and I turned my back on you while you were speaking but I still acknowledged what you were saying. Would you really believe that I was interested in what you were talking about? Keeping eye contact shows the customer that you are engaged in the conversation and you are paying attention.

Service with a SmileSmile
This is a winning attribute to your character. When you genuinely smile the customer gets a comfortable feeling about the interaction. One that gives the belief you care and you are going to do your best to help.

Apologize to your customer if you make a mistakeApologize
If you make a mistake. Take ownership. Work to make it right with the customer. At times the fault may not be yours, but you do represent the brand when you work at the establishment. So, do offer some kind apologetic words so that the customer feels there is a caring element.

In the end, ignoring your customer is not good. It makes them feel dismissed, unwanted not cared for and troublesome. Even more, you may lose a customer if they are ignored for too long. Always look to treat the customer how you would want to be treated as the customer. Always make the customer feel they are a priority and not the problem.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. If you have found the information in customer service important, please share.

David Beaumont – Author at Customerserviceisreal.com

David BeaumontKnown for delivering outstanding customer support to clients, David Beaumont is a knowledge seeker and results driven visionary who builds relationships with clients and peers by aiding the end-user through training and development tasks. David is a qualified support professional, HDI Certified and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Finance from The Ohio State University. He has more than 15 years of experience in customer service, EDI and client support.