In this town, service is our bread and butter.
If we can’t get service right then we’re in trouble.
An experience in the village this weekend rammed home that point to me in a big way and made me realize how desperately we need a service strategy.
My snowboard boots are five years old. They’re so old, it’s like I’m wearing flip-flops riding down the mountain.
It’s high time to treat myself to a new pair of boots.
Because I’m a spur of moment kind of shopper I found myself in a village store last Saturday ready to drop a whack of cash on some gear.
I didn’t have a budget. I didn’t have any particular brand in mind. I am the kind of customer you want in your store — easily swayed and ready to spend money. I can be up-sold on anything, if you say the right thing. I don’t know what that says about my character, or my willpower, but that’s another story.
At the first store in the village a sales assistant approached me right away. He was young, friendly, seemingly knowledgeable and gave me the usual Whistler spiel — where are you from? How long have you been riding? I liked him.
He could easily have sold me a pair of boots. But he didn’t.
As he was measuring my feet his cell phone rang.
He looked up at me with pleading eyes, trying to convey the necessity of his answering this call, as he rushed to explain something about a hurt roommate.
I said: “Do you want to take that call?”
A minute long conversation ensued with his friend who had broken something or other doing a rail or something like it the night before.
He hung up and relayed the story to me.
I looked sympathetic but I really couldn’t have cared less. People break bones doing stupid things all the time. What did that have to do with my new pair of snowboard boots?
Turns out it had everything to do with my new boots, or lack thereof.
By answering the cell phone, even though I gave my tacit permission to do so, he lost my sale… and my respect. I would be hard pressed to go back to that store to buy anything now.
And that’s a problem.
We are in the business of selling Whistler. A lot of people are like me. It only takes one bad experience to turn them off, whether it’s a rude waiter, a nonchalant liftie, or a cell phone-answering shop assistant.
It doesn’t matter.
So, this experience begs several questions.
Is it acceptable to answer your cell phone while you’re dealing with a customer, no matter what’s happening in your personal life?
Has speaking on cell phones become so innocuous in our society that nobody really cares about etiquette? Does etiquette even exist?
If I was younger and owned a cell phone, would I see this any differently?
Maybe. But that still doesn’t make it right.
At the risk of sounding like my parents, which I swore I never would, when I was younger and working as a waitress at university I couldn’t have imagined serving someone their food while answering a phone call.
“Here are your eggs benedict. Would you like some fresh ground pepper with that? Oh, hang on a sec, that’s my boyfriend calling.”
Back in a more simpler time, when cell phones didn’t exist, that sales assistant would have gone about his day, sold me a pair of boots and discovered upon his return home from work that his roommate had broken bones. It wouldn’t have changed anything in the course of his day other than the fact that he had information sooner.
We’re information junkies now. We need to know everything when it happens. The cell phone helps us convey what we’re bringing home for dinner, what movie we’ve picked from the video store, who we just saw walking down the street, that we’re just pulling into the driveway. Don’t we have anything better to talk about over the phone?
I am the farthest thing from a Luddite. I see why cell phones have their purpose. Sometimes, when I say I’m going to meet someone at the light board at 10 a.m. and I’m getting on the gondola at 9:55 a.m., I even wish I had one.
I will probably get one.
But I will not answer it while I’m talking to someone else, particularly if I’m trying to sell them something.
Should our service strategy ban the use of cell phones in the workplace?