Pay Attention

Leadership Moment: Customer Acknowledgement

I was recently in Tel Aviv. If there’s one thing that Israelis of all stripes seem to be universally proud of, it’s the bad customer service you’ll get in Israel. It’s an odd badge of honor.

I was checking out of my hotel. I got in “line” behind a couple who was checking out. They were splitting the bill, her credit card was declined. It took them about ten minutes, after I’d showed up, to finalize the checkout. I’m the only other person in the lobby, standing pretty much right behind them. How long do you think it took for the clerk to make eye contact with me and acknowledge my existence?

If you guessed “Ten minutes, when they were done with the prior guest,” you’d be correct. At no point did the clerk look up, make eye contact, and send me a signal that they’d be right with me, even while the guests were calling the credit card company. Only when they prior guests left did they look up at me, and I stepped up, said, “Checking out, room 818.” A few moments later, they told me I was good to go (I was booked on a corporate account, the receipt was emailed to us).

Had I not had a few minutes to waste, and not been curious how long this would go one, and not been planning on writing it up here, I’d have been frustrated. I might have made a small scene, just trying to get out of there. Perhaps the clerk’s experience is informed by guests who wait for eye contact to make a scene … but perhaps there’s a better way, starting with acknowledging someone’s existence.

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One Minute Pro Tip: Who are you ignoring?

We often forget as leaders that we are always on display. While interacting with one person, three people give up on getting face time with us. We may not even realize that they’ve experienced this disappointment, while they might think we knew and were intentional about ignoring them.

Start to pay attention to who you’ve missed an opportunity with. Ideally, you’ll acknowledge them in the moment, but if you fail to do so, remember them. Note that you “owe” them an interaction in the near future. A brief note with, “Hey, it looked like you wanted to chat with me yesterday; I’m sorry I didn’t catch you. Is it still relevant? How can I be helpful?” will go a long way to repairing a bridge you didn’t realize was falling down.