3 Reasons Why Side Conversations are Bad for Business

I enjoy catching up with my workplace besties and closest colleagues during the day. It can be therapeutic, and for some, it helps the time pass more swiftly; however, if your company deals strictly with customers, it is best if employees save the details of their latest non-work related endeavors for a more appropriate time. Here are three reasons side conversations may be taking a toll on your bottom line.

1. Service Suffers

You're at checkout and the cashier signals you to step forward with your items. She begins scanning and bagging your things, all while chatting with her co-workers about how tired she is, and how she can't wait to get off work.

You wait with your debit card in hand while she gives little effort in providing any form of engagement. After placing your items in a bag, she gives you the total. You pay and, before your receipt is fully printed, she calls for the next customer to step forward.

Value your customers so they won't take their business down the street

Chatting with your co-workers may seem harmless, but it takes away from the overall experience of the customer. Gossiping about other employees, sharing personal stories, and even work-related discussions that interrupt one-on-one interactions can diminish the quality of service. YES! We all get tired, and some of us hate our jobs, but guess what? That is not the business of the customer and should never be shared in their presence. If an employee needs to vent, it is best to wait until they're off work or away from the consumer.

2. Customers May Feel Ignored

You enter a warehouse store on a mission to find the perfect color of paint to rejuvenate your flat and outdated bathroom walls. As you scan the selection, you can't seem to find the right shade of white. I mean, according to a blog entitled, Fifty Shades of White by Tim Jones, there are about 493 shades - "494 if you include Whitish White." So you look around to find help. No one is in sight. You wait for a few because certainly, someone will see you standing there looking lost in the paint department. No one comes. You hear chatter two aisles down and instinctively follow the sound. You peek your head around the corner to find two store associates talking and stocking shelves. You approach them and ask if they can help. They oblige but only after you had to ask.

Position your staff to meet the needs of the customer

Just think of it as a game of volleyball. Every player (worker) has a position to play and is there to serve a purpose. The customer is the ball. If the player is not at their post to play that position, the other team (your competition) will score and eventually they will win. Be attentive to your customers because even though your store may not carry Fog Mist White, that person could at least buy their paint brushes and prep items and may even settle for Navajo White instead.

3. It Can Cause Discomfort

PSST! Just because you talk in code, doesn't mean it's appropriate for the workplace

I'm sure someone told you that whispering is a form of bad manners. Well talking in code falls in the same category in my opinion.

Need an example? My pleasure!

You and your husband are in line at a grocery store where you do your weekly shopping, when one cashier blurts out to the other, "girl, remember when I told you about that one chick?'" The other cashier glances over and just so happens to catch your eye. You look back to see who she is looking at. She looks back over to her register, snickers, and replies, "yeah, I remember." Now you're paranoid. "Are they talking about me?" They continue their brief exchange about this chick, making comments about "why he would be with someone like her." Now you're extra suspicious. When your turn comes, the woman greets you with a friendly smile and begins to ring up your items, but by now, you're cautious because you are convinced that these two women were just talking about you and your husband.

Now she could be completely mistaken, but perception is projection, and if a customer is convinced that the cashiers were gossiping about them --even if it is an assumption -- it may cause them to feel uncomfortable, and it could result in them finding another store to frequent.

Bonus Reason: It's RUDE!

Customers should never feel like they're interrupting your conversations. As such, they should be made to feel welcome and valued. Side conversations, while perhaps done unintentionally, can come off as rude and unprofessional.

Mad TV's skit with Bon Qui Qui is a funny reminder of what NOT to do when engaging with customers. (If you haven't seen it, click the GIF to watch.)

AlstonNobles and Company offers personalized Customer Service Workshops and Training.

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