- - Thursday, August 21, 2014

I must assume that an irritating problem our family is encountering in local fast-food establishments is not unique to us. Routinely, when we order our food, the person taking the order asks us multiple times to repeat our requests. We all speak clearly, without speech defects or impediments. While we have seen this in virtually every such establishment in town, one in particular appears to be in much greater need of listening skills training than the rest. Of course, I won’t name names, but we order Big Macs.

On our last visit, I was about to walk out until a manager stepped in and took our order. This was after repeating my order three times, spelling it and even pointing to it on the menu. When I voiced my concerned to the manager, I was accused of “getting smart” with staff.

It is obvious that these youngsters’ attention and minds are not on their customers. I have researched some key characteristics of effective listeners, as noted by author and psychologist Roychelle Lohmann. They can be paraphrased as follows: Make a concentrated effort to listen and focus on what your customer is saying at all times. Do not be distracted by anything around you, especially fellow workers, noise or music. Always maintain eye contact. Never interrupt the customer. Do not prejudge or anticipate what you think the customer is about to say. Smile or nod at the appropriate times to convey that you are listening and understand the customer. Don’t converse with another person while waiting on a customer.

Finally, I think that while patronizing a business, the customer is king — and the employee’s boss for that moment. The customer deserves an employee’s complete and undivided attention. To those who work in such establishments, please remember that if customers do not do business with your employer, you won’t have a job.

JAMES W. ANDERSON

Talladega, Ala.