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Are Your Customers a Nuisance or Necessity?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Remember the last time you walked into a store, restaurant or business and you felt like the employees could care less that you were there? Actually, they were annoyed that you were there! Have you ever wondered if that was what the leaders and owners of that organization hoped for? Is that the experience they are intentionally creating?

One of my high school jobs was working at The Gap in Orlando, Florida off International Drive, one of the most tourist-filled locations in the city. You could see the buses roll up, full of customers ready to try on clothes, buy some and leave piles of the remaining clothes to be folded back into the perfect “Gap fold”.

I remember the deflated feeling of watching yet another bus roll up and thinking of all the work that was ahead. The nuisance of having to re-fold so many clothes.

Each morning we would have a team huddle before we opened the doors and Carlos, our boss, would talk about the goals for the day and remind us what was important when it came to serving customers. One morning it was as though Carlos read my mind. “We get the privilege of serving people from all over the world. We get to make them feel special and help them find the perfect souvenir for their trip. So with each shirt you re-fold or re-hang and with each dressing room full of clothes to restock, just know we are here to serve the customer. And ultimately, they pay our paychecks.”

Are Customers a nuisance or necessity? It depends on your employee’s mindset.

The reality of folding clothes all day and dealing with occasionally rude people was all still true, but the mindset Carlos communicated put a new light on it.

How easy is it for us, after serving customers for weeks, months or years to see their behavior as a nuisance? And then to let that build into seeing customers themselves as a nuisance?

The other reality is that the customer is a necessity for every business. Without the customer there is no business. As Henry Ford said…

It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

So what is your organization’s mindset toward customers? Are they a nuisance? Or are they a necessity?

Evaluating our mindsets does not happen without thought and intention. So you may be thinking “where do we start?” “how do I know if my team is treating Customers as the necessity that they are?”. Below are four steps to help you identify your organization's current mindset and to move toward shifting it to a more positive place.

We all, as consumers, can sense when people are treating us like we are a nuisance to them. 96% of Customers share that the overall experience is critical to creating loyalty toward a brand, so when Customers are treated as a nuisance it pushes them farther away from loyalty and relationship with your brand.

Four steps to evaluate and redefine your organization's customer mindset:

  1. Identify the behaviors that are not creating a positive Customer Experience currently (look for themes in customer complaints, employee complaints, identify what is the most disliked employee role in your organization, go through your experience yourself and see where the existing pain points are)

  2. Ask questions to identify what mindsets are driving those behaviors; questions such as:

    1. "What role does the customer play in our business?"

    2. "What difference does your presence make on the customer?"

    3. "What about your role is frustrating to you?"

    4. "Why does it frustrate you? "

  3. Craft words to create a new mindset that would establish improved behaviors

  4. Bring the new mindset to life with experiences for your employees and repeat the new mindset until it becomes a mindset of the culture


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