I recently made an observation about an employee of one of our local coffee shops. This is a store where I’m somewhat of a regular. (Well, regular enough that I recognize certain employees and feel the freedom to blog about ’em in hopes that they don’t have a lawyer who’ll sue me for libel.)
I could never quite put my finger on what was wrong with this particular employee. As a matter of fact, I’d be hard pressed to use the word “wrong” in the first place. There was nothing really wrong. She usually greets me when I walk up to the counter. She’s never gotten my order wrong. I’ve never had to wait more than a few moments for my coffee and a bagel. She seems to keep her workspace clean, she makes change correctly, and I’ve never heard her supervisor criticize her in any way.
So if nothing’s wrong…what’s wrong?
I finally figured it out: there has never been a single ounce of warmth in our interactions. She’s technically proficient in her job. I’ll bet she accomplishes all the goals that her employer has for her. She’s probably never run off a customer.
But there’s no warmth.
Warmth can be an overlooked intangible. It’s hard to measure, and you don’t always notice it when you have it, but you know something’s missing when you don’t. So how do you create warmth when it comes to serving your guests? I think there are a few ways:
Make eye contact.
It seems simple. But it’s amazing how often my coffee shop friend fails to do this. Rather than looking at me, she’s arranging pastries in the case. Instead of glancing at her customer, she’s focused on the register.
Just a little. I don’t need your maniacal Joker-esque leer (“Wanna know how I got these scaaars?”), but a grin will do. Let me see some teeth. Curve the corners of your mouth up just a touch, just to let me know we’re trackin’ and you’re somewhat happy I’m giving you money.
In everything. Be the first to greet me, the first to suggestive sell, the first to give me instructions on what I should do next (“Feel free to have a seat / stand over there / take a number and I’ll let you know when your bagel is up.”).
Make small talk.
I know you’re doing it just to do it. I know that you could’ve asked “How’s the weather?” to four dozen people before me. But help me out. Do something / say something to fill the blank spaces between my order and my payment and my pickup.
There are a few other coffee options within walking distance of yours. You share a parking lot with one of your biggest competitors. I could’ve gone there. How about thanking me that I chose you instead?
Maybe you noticed that there’s nothing heroic, earth-shattering, or insanely inventive on any of those five. They’re all common sense, and common skills that people use with people. The only problem: it’s not all that common. Where can you use some warmth this week? How can you apply these five things towards the people you’re engaging?