A few weeks ago I was at Perkins, attempting to pay for my meal.
Employees scurried back and forth with not even a curious glance in my
direction. Finally, the manager said something which compelled another
employee to issue an order. And, like magic, a smiling young lady
appeared and graciously took my money.
Not long after that I sauntered up to
the customer service counter in our local Barnes & Noble, trying
earnestly to look like a customer in need. (I’m serious, I really was
Two employees walked into the customer service area, walking
straight toward me. Neither one of them made even the slightest amount
of eye contact. Eventually, when they were done talking, one of them “noticed” me (as if I had just appeared out of thin air).
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. In both cases, I was an
Invisible Customer. I knew I was there. But the employees treated me
like I wasn’t.
We’ve all had this experience so we all know what it feels like.
It’s one of the worst things you can do to a customer. Yet it happens
every day in every community.
The danger is that invisible customers will eventually disappear for
real. They will not stick with a company whose employees ignore them.
Why would they?
Invisible customers are one step away from being former customers,
and unhappy ones at that. They will gladly tell anyone who seems even
remotely interested why they left your business. “The employees acted
like I was not even there” is what they will say.
But there is good news.
Because the cause of invisible customers is also the cure. Customers
become invisible because employees make them invisible. It is a
conscious choice by the employees to ignore customers. That is the ONLY
way customers can be invisible.
So, the solution is just as simple: stop ignoring customers.
As an owner or manager, you need to understand what would make an
employee ignore their customers. There are many reasons. Bad attitude,
too “busy”, misunderstanding priorities, etc. You need to make it clear
(with your policies and your own behavior) what the priorities are.
“Customers come first” should be burned into everyone’s brain.
We are entering a period in our economy where perhaps only the best
will survive. There will be much less room for mistakes because
customers have many more choices. It’s never been more dangerous to
deliver bad customer service.
But your company can survive and even thrive. Make sure sure your
company is a winner. Make sure you don’t have any invisible customers.