Respect Your Customer’s Time and Space

Respect Your Customer’s Time and Space


Customer service should happen at the convenience of the customer. While you would do well to have a set of touch points you work through when helping customers, never rush the customer into fitting into your checklist.

The poster child of this syndrome is the waiter who rushes his customers to order food, or to order their next drink. Or the telephone consultant who rattles off their script before the customer has had a chance to process what they are being asked.

In interpersonal interactions, customer service can be an extremely subtle process. A lot of it depends on small cues that one should be aware of. Let’s imagine you are the manager of a small gift shop in Hermanus. A customer enters your store.

  • First greeting: Make eye contact, smile and say hello. Eye contact is the best communication.
  • Assess whether the customer needs assistance at all: Do they look up, turning their head in an ‘I need some help’ kind of way? Or do they seem happy just to browse?
  • Feel their rhythm: Is the customer in a hurry, or just inspecting your wares at leisure?
  • Don’t disturb them: If the customer is in conversation with a friend, don’t interrupt. Don’t snatch a ceramic whale sculpture out of their hand and go, “Let me give that a quick polish for you.”
  • Make contact as soon as you’re invited to do so: If your customer holds up a bracelet with a look of, ‘How much is this?’ they are ready to interact. Be at their side with the information they require.


Just because a customer has entered your space doesn’t mean they’re ready to interact. Only enter their space when invited to do so, and only leave when it’s clear they have all they require. Ask them in so many words, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”