Prime the pump
August 23, 2019
The use of the “Zone of Hospitality Rule” in the workplace

HAVE YOU ever heard of the10 and 5 Rule? The 10/5 Rule, also known as the “Zone of Hospitality Rule, “is a wellknown guiding principle for extending courtesy to customers in service industries.”

The rule instructs:

  • Whenever a staff member is within ten feet of a customer, the staff member must make eye contact and smile to greet the approaching customer.
  • Whenever a staff member is within five feet of a customer, the staff member must also look the customer in the eye and acknowledge him/her with a salutation.

Successful companies, in and out of the service industry, have adopted their own version of the 10 and 5 Rule. At Wal-Mart, for example, founder Sam Walton created the ‘Ten-Foot Attitude’ and said “I want you to promise that whenever you come within 10 feet of a customer, you will look him in the eye, greet him and ask if you can help him.”

Recently, I walked into a public office and felt completely ignored by a staff.

The young man was sitting at the counter checking forms when I walked up to him and stood there with my form in my hand waiting to be acknowledged. He kept his head down and proceeded to check the stack of forms he had on the counter.

When he was through, he reached for my form and asked me to have a seat.

I sat there for about an hour and half as customers came and went. Finally, I decided to check with another employee whether I had missed when my name was called for the document I was applying for. It was then discovered that the staff member had checked the form, then left for an extended lunch break without passing the form to be processed.

His behaviour was the epitome of poor customer service. The 10 and 5 Rule is the single best practice to delivering excellence customer service. Kelly Jones, in an article Hospitality Principle: The 10/5 Rule, said “The key to a highly engaged staff versus a non-engaged staff is that you have to train your team to look for the customer. By doing this, the energy in the room is vastly different, because now, you have an engaged staff looking for ways to engage the customer.

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