This will not be one of the more “glamorous” posts and suggestions, but it will be one of the most important you’ll read and hopefully pass on if you’re a manager or a business owner. 

I live in an area that is thick with grocery stores, and the major chain here has for the most part an excellent reputation for service. Have to admit that save for the occasional disgruntled person, (c’mon, everyone is allowed to have a bad day now and then), they are well-mannered and always looking to help. 

However, there is the small matter of their checkout counters. 

First up, this is sometimes a thankless job at low wages. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of times a day, the person doing the checkout has to face a myriad of people ranging from those who could not be more pleasant to those who would rather spit ground glass before they even thought about being civil. 

Case in point…..

Let’s focus on the person working the counter, the employee. For many people, THIS is their contact point for that store. Not everyone hits the deli counter or asks where the grass-fed beef is. Most of the time, this is the ONLY human contact customers have with the company.

Keep that in mind. This is not just contact with the person, it’s contact with the company. The person wearing that uniform represents much more than themselves. They represent the company, the brand, and every fellow employee who makes a living working there. 

A difficult load to handle, one might argue. But it’s the fact. No matter whom you work for, yourself or a company with millions of employees, YOU are the brand. YOU are the contact. YOU are the first and last image a customer has of that company. 

Many times, whether I am the only one in line or one of many, I find myself disappointed not with the actual counter service, but with the personal contact. 

Seven of the last ten times I’ve been in line, (yes, I counted when I thought about what was happening and the effect it had), the person serving me has missed not once, but twice to make a positive impression. 

They greeted me, but never looked up from the register. And when they were done, handing me the receipt, they never looked up to say “thank you”. Each of these 7 times, the individual was pleasant and polite, sometimes almost machine-like, but they never looked me in the eye. 

Looking someone in the eye is a sign of respect. It makes the contact much more personal, more intimate, and gives the customer a comfortable feeling. Those who did greet me with eye contact smiled, asked how I was doing, had a cheery and sincere “thank you!” when we were finished. 

And when I go to the store near me, I search these individuals out for assistance. And if it was allowed, I would tip them. They are the ones who send me out with a smile and a feeling of truly being served. 

Certainly I could have caught others after long shifts, difficult days, having just faced a jerk of a customer. I get it. 

But that’s no excuse. When you represent yourself, your company, your BRAND, you go the extra mile at all times to craft a positive image at all times. It’s part of your image as well as that of the company. 

Whether you deal with the general public, your co-workers, valued or first time customers, make that eye contact. Smile. Put them at ease and create a welcoming atmosphere that will ensure their business will walk back in the door over and over again. 

It’s something managers need to impress upon their employees. It’s the type of positive training and reinforcement a leader will provide. It’s one of the little things everyone needs to be aware of and practice because it makes them better at their job and reflects positively on their image. 

Because who knows? Next time that person who was going to buy ground round might go instead for the prime rib.