The Invisible Customer

It always amazes me when I am standing at a cashier trying to check out and pay for items and the phone rings. Invariably, the cashier always answers the phone and begins serving the customer on the other end; while, continuing to process my purchases. Once my purchases are done she/he hands me my bag with the phone to his/her ear (sometimes whispering “thank you”). Each time this happens to me it’s always a bizarre and baffling experience. I want to yell, I’m not an invisible customer.  I am a living paying customer standing right in front of you.  But, I always shrug it off.  I was having lunch with a retail owner and explained the same scenario; and how it happens more often than not.  He then explained to me it’s a tough position and asked, how would I recommend handling the situation?  I explained to him, on the contrary I have had very positive experiences too.  Recently, I was in an upscale department store making purchases. The phone rang, the clerk said “excuse me please”. She literally stopped waiting on me and answered the phone.  She explained that she is currently with a guest; and, as soon as she is done she would return to helping the guest on the phone. She finished ringing me up and walked around the counter and handed me my bag of purchases.  She said “thank you”.  I looked at the cashier and said "you’re welcome and I appreciate that". She looked at me and smiled. As I walked away I glanced back and she was picking up the phone to give her attention to the customer on hold.  This customer service person recognized me as a living paying customer standing right in front of her. I realized I wasn't an invisible customer with this particular retailer and they raised the level of excellence of what I now expect from others.

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in  Fairfield County Connecticut.