How do we make the choices that we make? This is a question I ask myself constantly, but the answer is far too complicated to attempt at this hour. Especially because the question that I am really asking is why do people choose to come to our stores? What do we provide that they could not buy across the street at Starbucks? What do we offer that they could not get at home? What do we sell that is better, different, unique, interesting, appealing.....Perhaps it is something more than coffee and food.
Today, I had a meeting with our new customer service trainer and we discussed the increasing importance of customer service in a culture of dwindling human interaction. We have automated toll booths, ATMS, self-checkout lines, on-line purchasing, on-line dating, and even "virtual" friendships. If you are reading this, you have probably fallen victim to, witnessed, or been at the receiving end of not so great service, if you are lucky. And it occurs to me that seeking out human interaction is riskier than our digital interactions that guarantee us a certain security. Machines are predictable, but the woman behind the counter with tattoos and the facial piercing is probably rebelling against something and needs to take her anger out on you. So, it is just a little safer to stay at home, brew some good coffee and avoid the chance that the person on the other side of the counter could ruin your day. As our interactions with other people decrease, the stakes seem higher.
Our hope at Diesel and Bloc11 is to foster the importance of positive interactions in a service environment, whether it is with a co-worker or a customer. Every once in a while, I hear staff complain that we get treated like robots and it is true, but often it is because we are acting like robots. Saying the same phrase in the same tone without making eye contact or smiling or listening to what the customer is actually saying, paying more attention to our ipods than the customer waiting to order at the register. And this reminds me that how we act is often an indicator of how people will treat us. How the simple, yet challenging act of paying attention to our body language, tone, inflection, word choice, our focus, our sense of urgency can make a big difference in how people experience us. What we give off to others, people will give right back.