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Ten Foot, Five Foot Rule

This isn’t anything new, but it’s worth a reminder.  It’s Customer Service 101.  It is a very basic concept or strategy that you may be familiar with, except I have a twist on this, so please read on! Most think the “Ten Foot, Five Foot Rule” is a frontline strategy just for customer-facing employees.  For those that might not know what I’m referring to, the rule, if that is what you want to call it, is really a simple strategy: Within ten feet or so of a customer, you should acknowledge them with a facial expression.  I add to that. It should be a smile!   And within five feet or so of the customer, you should acknowledge them verbally.  It may be a simple “Good morning” or “Great day today.”  The idea is to create a small positive interaction between you and your customer.  This all makes sense and some of the best companies in the world actually include this simple strategy in their employee training programs.

Internal Customer

However, seldom does anyone ever talk about this “rule” for the internal customer. By the way, many typical front-line customer service strategies can be easily applied to the internal customer.   Imagine if everyone you work with greeted you every morning when you came to work.  Or they smiled at you every time you walked by them.  Think of the positive atmosphere this might promote in your company.  Think of the energy that would result if everyone was just a little nicer to everyone they encountered – both customers and fellow employees. Some people won’t be good at this.  Some people won’t want to do it.  It is just not something they are used to.  However, make it part of your culture (dare I say mandatory), and once everyone starts to do it and it becomes a habit, it will be much easier for everyone to do.  Keep in mind as you hire new people that you are looking for personalities that buy into this type of practice. If this “Ten Foot, Five Foot Rule” was originally meant to be used with customers, the concept of bringing it internally is a powerful way to set a positive tone and example in your workplace.  This is especially important for management and leadership to show how it is done.  If they don’t do it, you can’t expect others in the company to do it either.   Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn.

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