My wife and I stopped in at a local restaurant this past weekend for lunch. The place is frequented by folks “of a certain age” who have shoes in their closets older than most of the waitstaff bustling back and forth…love it when I go somewhere that I feel young!!
Anyway…we settled into our seats and our server came over with a smile and a cheery “Hi, my name is (fill in the blank)…” Pretty pro forma so far.
Then it happened. As she took our respective orders, she looked each of us straight in the eye with a smile and didn’t break eye contact while jotting down our requests. (Note for the skeptics…transcribing without down looking at your pad is a cool interviewing technique I learned as an intern…try it!)
And, to top it off, each time she came to our table…to refill coffee cups or bring a portion of the meal…same thing…eye contact.
Not earth-shattering. But certainly unusual in today’s service culture.
I don’t run into a bunch of outright rude people in the course of my day/week, but it is becoming more and more rare that I encounter someone who understands the value of eye contact…of that simple gesture that indicates to the person you are assisting that you acknowledge (and appreciate) his or her patronage.
This is something that I try to instill in the hearts and minds of my young charges at Curry College, where I’m a member of the Communication Department team and oversee the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration.
Customer service is just that…acting in such a way that the person being served feels special and appreciated. And eye contact is part and parcel of that service.
Especially with today’s online social media lifestyle…buying, selling, communicating…human contact in general is becoming an endangered species…seldom seen and (I fear) slowly fading from existence.
I’m heartened by this recent experience and reassured that the younger generations haven’t completely forgotten how important the finer points of customer service can be in the overall business transaction.
Not only do you want the customer to leave pleased with his or her purchase. You want the memory of that encounter to linger on…and be recounted to others…like the sighting of the “one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eater.”
So take a second when you’re helping someone with a purchase…or giving directions to a lost tourist…or paying for your meal in the cafeteria. Look the other person in the eye…and smile!
“The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “The Friend. The Improvisatore”