Thank the Customer for Their Business

Christmas Gift (2)

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed.

Some years ago, I was shopping at a major retailer – you know, the ones with 50 checkout lanes only three of which are ever open. I had quite an armload of items. As is often the case, I walked in seeking to purchase one or two things and wound up with several more that I didn’t realize I needed until I saw them.

I took my place at the end of a line and patiently waited my turn to pay. I placed my wares on the conveyor belt and made sure to place one of the provided separator bars between my stash and that of the person ahead of me. It’s important to make sure your purchases don’t get mixed up with those of another shopper. Bad things can happen.

Finally, it was my turn. I noticed that the cashier – I’ll call her Sally – was talking to the cashier manning the next aisle over – I’ll call him Joe. Neither Sally nor Joe were paying any attention to the customers in their respective lane. They were too caught up in whatever story from the weekend they were sharing. In fact, Sally continued to converse with Joe, her back turned to me, even as she scanned each of my items. There was no greeting or acknowledgement of my presence.

After scanning the last item, Sally briefly turned her head in my direction and gave an almost imperceptible nod toward the monitor which displayed my total. Seeing I was paying with a debit card, she turned her body and bagged my items – still talking to Joe. I swiped the card and she dismissively handed me a receipt.

I took the receipt and waited for her to say something…anything. Silence. The transaction was over. The job was done and I had been forgotten.

Sally eventually turned to look at me, no doubt wondering what my problem was. I asked “Aren’t you going to say ‘thank you?’” She said “It’s written on your receipt.” I. Kid. You. Not.

What has happened to our concept of service that basic human interaction has become burdensome? It’s as if every word carries a price tag and we dare not waste any of them on a customer unnecessarily. Those who deign to speak use a mixture of grunts and sentence fragments to convey their inconvenience at having to converse with a mere customer. We’ve gone from “Full Service” to “Self Service” to “What, you expect service?” These days, the only employees who say “thank you” are those too new to the job to know they can get away without doing it.

Want more revenue?

Want to grow your business?

Want repeat customers?

Here’s a tip: Thank the customer for doing business with you.

Why, you ask? I’ll tell you why…

  • It shows you understand that they are the reason you have a business in the first place.
  • It shows that you value the choice they made in picking you over a competitor.
  • It shows that you understand they are the source of your livelihood as opposed to an inconvenience.
  • It reminds them of how many other businesses don’t appreciate them, or at least fail to show it.
  • It leaves them with a final, positive impression of the interaction.

That’s what keeps customers coming back. That’s what causes a happy customer to recommend you to others. If the key to kicking off a great interaction is a smile, then the key to concluding one is a sincere “thank you.”

I don’t think Sally understands the value of thanking the customer for their business. And neither does her management team. Too bad. Their competitors get a lot more of mine.

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