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Millions of interactions between businesses and their customers occur every minute. These interactions occur before, during, and after a transaction. Interactions are often in person or through other communication platforms. Voice, brief messaging, and USSD are used by businesses and customers via phone. Email, websites, and social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Twitter are in use too. The overall performance of a business is determined by the quality of interactions with the staff who handle customers across all of these channels. One of the most important factors in the quality of interactions is the attitude displayed by the staff. Negative staff attitudes lead to negative customer interactions, negatively impacting business performance.

The quality of a customer’s interactions can reveal the attitude of the staff. Interactions that occur before a purchase are crucial in determining whether or not a purchase will be made. A customer can stroll into a store, call, or contact a business by any other method. The way the customer is treated by the staff is critical in influencing purchasing decisions. A customer could just opt not to buy because the staff is displaying a negative attitude. The same is true with other channels. Based on how the call was handled, a customer making a telephone inquiry may abandon the purchase. A customer who contacts a company by email, the internet, or social networking sites expects the staff to be available, to help, and to respond quickly. This isn’t always the case. Customers are typically seen as a nuisance by those staff with a negative attitude.

For some businesses, interactions go beyond sales teams. Accountants, stores clerks, delivery staff, operations teams, and other staff are involved in customer interactions. The customers’ likelihood of return is determined by the quality of interactions with all these staff. It is common for customers to experience severe pain during and after the purchase. Promises made before purchase are not always kept. The staff may fail to deliver the goods and services as promised; the staff may keep the customer in the dark; the staff may make the customer’s life difficult after a purchase is made. Customers may opt to never return as a result of the quality of interaction with staff. This hurts the business. The business also misses out on the power of positive word of mouth.

Staff that interact with customers face-to-face and via various channels must maintain a positive attitude at all times. Everyday customer interactions can make or break relationships. These interactions should be considered significant Customer relationships that are healthy and strong are good for business. Many business owners lament the loss of a customer. Is a positive attitude a part of your business’s hiring criteria? Is it possible that negative staff attitudes in your business are driving customers away? Is your workplace a place where positivity thrives or a place where negativity thrives? How would you rate your staff’s interactions with one another and with customers? What do the other staff and customers think about their interactions? If your staff have a poor attitude toward the business and its customers, it will most certainly show and this will negatively affect the business. Positive staff attitudes should be a key goal for every smart business!

Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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