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©2017 by Colin Gold

What are you saying? (Because your customer is always listening.)

August 5, 2018


I am always shocked at how much non-professional conversation goes on. Specifically when I am in a store or other business, and all of the employees are having personal conversations when there are customers around.  


Here is an example I would like to share just from my foray into the real world today.


I witnessed an employee chatting it up with his fellow co-worker today. He was sharing a story about an event in their local school lunchroom this past week. Without going into all of the specifics, I now know, the two gentlemen involved in the story are spending a month in detention and their teacher took a blow to his ego and his face when he tried to separate the two students. This story had nothing to do with the office supplies I was looking to purchase.


Interestingly enough, the supervisor witnessed the same conversation I was overhearing. He then decided the correct the behavior right then and there, on the office supply store showroom. He walked over to the two employees, spoke to them loud enough for me to hear,  and said: “If you are going to talk, go and talk to customers, that's why we pay you.”


Oh, there are so many tips I would love to point out of this example, but I will stay on the topic at hand. 


Did that conversation have anything to do with my needs? Not even remotely!


Was it information I needed to know? Nope!


Did it add to positively to my experience? Quite the opposite, because I believe: reprimands should always be a private conversation. 



My hospitality rule of thumb is: 


"If you are not actively assisting a customer, you should be seen and not heard."


I know this is a little childish and sounds like something our parents said to us "back in the day." But looking at the experience from our client's point of view: customers enter your place of business for a reason, not to hear about the fight in the lunchroom.


I am going to go out on a limb and say: you should enact this rule of thumb 100% of the time when customers are present. Even when the topic is business related, the discussion should not be within your client's earshot. If this is not possible, any non-client related conversations should be brief.  


Let me share some hospitality examples we may have all experienced. 


You are in a restaurant, and you overhear an employee conversation about a lunchroom brawl. Does that make lunch more appetizing?


Does hearing about your servers spin class make your dining experience better?


You walk up to the valet in a hotel, and the staff keep talking, and never help you. Or worse, one employee stops to help you and you overhear the manager reprimanding the other two valet parkers. Did you need to hear either conversation?


In the customer service business, you are always on stage. Everything you say and do should benefit just one group, your audience. In this case, your audience is your client, customer, or guest. I know being "on stage" is now a cliche, but it is accurate. Perform with your audience in mind.


Your client is looking to feel as if they are the center of attention. It is our job to make it happen. Start from the moment they walk in the door. 


  • Be available with a warm and engaging smile, showing the customer you are available and you want to assist them. 

  • You should be seen and not heard unless you are actively assisting another client. 

  • Personal and non-urgent business conversations should happen behind the scenes. 

  • I have one last side note because it is killing me not to mention it. Never, reprimand an employee in any public setting, EVER!


This focused attention to you client will bring your customers back to your business, time and again. 




Need help sharing this information with your team. Contact Gold Level Hospitality. We will help you raise your customer’s experience to the Gold Level!


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