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Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 01:06 PM   #1
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Eye Contact

Has anyone else noticed that there is less and less eye contact when you approach an employee of a business? It could be a hotel check in, a retail store, post office, car rental, airline check in or any number of other situations.

I do not believe that clerks that man these critical outposts of American business are trained to simply look the customer in the eyes and give them your undivided attention. Many side distractions seem to often distract the worker. Among the worst: cell phone, other employees, other public not facing them, telephone (landline), computer etc.

Am I the only one who demands that I have the undivided attention of the person that I am addressing or trying to address?
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 01:29 PM   #2
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Re: Eye Contact

Most clerks have computers to look at while trying to help you. So you they can listen to the customer while typing or reviewing information on a computer screen. Im sure this is done to move the line along otherwise people would be bitching how long things are taking.


My 2 cents.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 01:33 PM   #3
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Re: Eye Contact

Employees are multi-tasking, not by choice but by the way the job is now designed.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 04:37 PM   #4
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Re: Eye Contact

Quote:
Originally Posted by mickeyd
Am I the only one who demands that I have the undivided attention of the person that I am addressing or trying to address?
You must have been dealing with teenagers. Welcome to the trenches.

When I don't have the person's full attention, I stop answering their questions and stand there quietly. Eventually they notice the lack of interaction and have to make eye contact...
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 05:55 PM   #5
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Re: Eye Contact

Why would anyone have to make eye contact to do do their job?
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 06:17 PM   #6
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Re: Eye Contact

In our culture eye contact communicates that people are paying attention to each other.

In other cultures eye contact can be rude.

If the other person is from Asia or the Middle East they may be differential, respectful.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 08:53 PM   #7
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Re: Eye Contact

About 75% of the customers I see are yapping on a cell phone while their order is being rung up. Maybe the folks on the other side of the counter just gave up.

Which reminds me...how can you tell if you're talking to an extrovert nerd? He's the one staring at your shoes while he's talking to you instead of his own.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-13-2007, 08:57 PM   #8
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Re: Eye Contact

No excuse for the cell phone activity. That is rude in any culture. IMHO the only reason why such a clerk is employed is their employer can't find a replacement.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-14-2007, 07:10 AM   #9
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Re: Eye Contact

I'm glad to see this issue brought up - I thought maybe I was the only curmudgeon that noticed it. Lately, it seems the clerks are always talking on the phone, with another employee or another customer after they have started to "serve" me. Like others, I just ignore them until they snap back into service mode.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-14-2007, 10:41 AM   #10
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Re: Eye Contact

Actually i was referring to the customers, not the clerks. I havent seen a clerk on the phone while servicing a customer yet. But its pretty standard for the customer to be yapping to someone.

Which doesnt really bug me that much. After all THEY'RE the customer. And I take the phone out of the equation to eliminate anti-phone bias, suggesting that what they're doing is the equivalent of having brought the person they're speaking with to the store and engaging them in a conversation while being checked out.

Isnt it interesting that talking to someone on the phone while shopping or standing in a checkout line is considered rude yet having the same conversation with the same person, in person in line isnt considered even remotely rude?

But its a decent explanation for why the service people might not be particularly engaged with the customer.

I'm thinking that perhaps its a sign of a larger problem. I think that overall, many people live in their own little world where other people are considered non human entities that are simply in the way or obstacles of some kind. Witness the way people walk through a crowd, drive on the roads, or otherwise interact with each other in non-long-term transactional relationships. Pretty rude, "me first!" sorts of stuff.

Here's an experiment you can try on your own!

Next time you're in a crowd and you find yourself walking head on towards someone else...keep walking. 95% of the time the person will walk right into you or change direction at the last moment, but still bump you.

Now try it but stop walking. The other person will readily walk completely around you.

In the first case, you're a contestant. Your interest in taking the same path must be challenged. In the latter, you're a stationary obstacle, to be avoided.

In the greater sense, in many sales transactions we're no longer the valued customer and the expert service provider, but its simply become another transaction to process. Quickly, neatly and with as little fuss as possible.

As an aside...anyone ever see a cashier be chatty with a customer when theres a long line and have someone in the line toss out something like "hey...can we socialize on our own time? we're all waiting here!". I see this about once or twice a week.
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-14-2007, 10:55 AM   #11
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Re: Eye Contact

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
I havent seen a clerk on the phone while servicing a customer yet.
The phones at our local Lowes seem to be only answered by the cashiers, not by a dedicated receptionist. Or at least that's the first human to pick up after the 10 layers of interactive voice response...
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Re: Eye Contact
Old 05-14-2007, 11:04 AM   #12
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Re: Eye Contact

Ah, the elimination of yet another specialized person in favor of shifting the load to less qualified people, at the expense of the customer.

A local ultra 5 star store just eliminated their customer service desk. Now if you have a problem with a product you bought you have to stand in a checkout line with it, issue your tale of woe to a 19 year old cashier who has no idea how to deal with a difficult customer or someone with a serious problem.

My favorite story was my dads recent experience with having bought a piece of bad meat at a supermarket. Really, really bad from his description. When he took it back the next day (an extra day of aging probably didnt improve the situation) the cashier he was directed to decided to smell it to "make sure!". Ended up having to run to the can with a hand over her mouth and didnt come back.

My second favorite was my home depot experience of the other day. Having bought a ceiling fan which was missing some parts, probably explained by the later discovered hole punched in the box and carefully taped back up, I went to return it. One return line open on a weekend, line of people out the door. But look! Since Lowes opened up, they've put up a huge posterboard with a photo of the manager, his personal phone line, and that he's ALWAYS available to solve ANY problem. Guy in front of me flaps his phone open, calls the line. Clearly gets a voicemail box or a 'press 1 for this' menu as he has to jab several numbers. Finally gets someone and explains his problem. As I look over towards the returns cashier, I see that she's on the phone and that she's the one he was redirected to in order to explain his problem of a single line with a slow cashier.



Its no wonder nobody wants to look you in the eye anymore.
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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