Prime the pump
August 14, 2020

The “Ostrich Syndrome”

“Tom, each time I go into your business I get upset. Some of your employees appear to be detached, they avoid eye contact and do not acknowledge when I say hello. Had it not been for the goodwill between our families, I would have stopped patronizing your business long ago.”

Maybe you have not received a message like this as yet, but the “Ostrich Syndrome” has crept into many establishments and it is a trending topic among dissatisfied customers. The “Ostrich Syndrome” is the practice of some employees to keep their eyes on a screen when a customer is two feet in front of them, or to look away or look down when they walk pass a customer. These actions make customers feel slighted, unwelcomed and unappreciated.

Statistics have shown that:

n For every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent – Lee Resource

n 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91 percent of those will simply leave and never come back – 1Financial Training services.

n A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13 percent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

n It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience – “Understanding Customers”, by Ruby Newell-Legner.

n 55 percent of customers would pay extra to guarantee a better service – Defaqto research.

Today we revisit “The 10-5 Rule” and how it is used to prevent the “Ostrich Syndrome” and improve customer satisfaction. The 10-5 Rule, also known as the “Zone of Hospitality Rule”, is a renowned guiding principle for extending courtesy to customers in various industries. The Rule is simple and says that “anytime you come within ten feet of a customer you make eye contact. When you are within five feet, you acknowledge them verbally with a “Hello.”

The rule is straightforward, clear and easy to remember. It applies to everyone within the company – always.

The 10-5 rule could be your smartest and most economical customer focus strategy. There is much to gain if everyone in your organization, regardless of status engages every customer they cross paths with. This practice demonstrates a customer centric culture. The flipside is, if your employees continue to ignore customers, they will take their business where they are acknowledged.

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