The point of initial acknowledgment

Just the other day, I was in a queue to purchase a curry puff (some kind of pastry, stuffed with potato and chicken chunks cooked in curry) from this well-known franchised outlet in Singapore.  Just two customers ahead of me was a customer who requested for the same snack, but wanted forty pieces.  I saw the two sales staff (only two manning the sales, by the way) immediately getting to work on the order.  Figuring that the wait was going to be longer than expected, I changed my mind, backed up and decided that I should not be snacking after all.  Just as I moved off, I noticed the one behind me did so, too.  That outlet just lost two opportunities at sealing the sales, from me and the lady behind me.

Now what exactly happened here?  It definitely had nothing to do with their attitude; they were nice people, pretty friendly and polite.  It had nothing to do with food quality.  Like I said, it was a well-known outlet; they made a name for the well-stuffed, delicious chicken curry puffs.  It was the way they managed their customers when it came to getting the sales.

That customer wanted forty pieces of the curry puffs.  To me, that was considered a closed sale.  The customer would understand that it would take a while for the packing to be done.  And I was sure she would be willing to wait, just as I witnessed her doing so.  But what about other customers who were waiting in line behind?  Their sales were not closed yet.  Instead of allowing the sales to be lost so easily, perhaps one or two things could be done here…

Firstly, there should be a point of initial acknowledgment.  Letting the customers know that you are aware of their presence and that you will attend to them soon is important.  It makes them feel good that they have your attention.  So, initial acknowledgement like – “Hi, will come too you shortly”; “Sorry to keep you waiting, I will come to you very soon”… certainly helps a lot.

Secondly, did they really required the two staff (remember, only two sales staff at the counter) to manage the 40-piece order.  What if the order had been a hundred pieces?  This will be really discretionary on the part of the sales and service folks.  I reiterate here – that the customer, since she made the reasonably big order, would be ready to wait for a little while for the packing to be done.  It’s not that nobody was attending to her; and it had nothing to do with sloppiness here.  The sales staff was prompt and quick.  So, while one attended to her order, the other lady could well manage the next behind her.  Would that have given positive attentions to the ones in queue?

In this highly competitive society, being polite and friendly is not sufficient.  One has to be attentive and sensitive to his or her customers.  The customer should be made to feel important.

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