Working customer service at a campground means a lot of repetition. Every single person who checks in is given the same speech outlining the same rules, and we get the same questions asked again and again, day after day.
One of the frustrations with this isn’t just the repetition – it’s that people don’t want to stop and listen for the 30 seconds it takes to convey these pieces of information to them. Now, I’ve worked at this campground for 6 seasons, so you’d think I’d have learned the best way to communicate these rules by now, but the other day I learned a lesson from a coworker of mine who’s only in his second season.
Now, There isn’t a lot of overlap between gatehouse shifts, so we rarely see each other work. But the other day I hung around for a bit after my shift, and I got to watch my coworker check a few campers in. As I watched, he handed the customers a list of the rules and went over every single rule on the back of the sheet.
This coworker is also a friend of mine, and he’s studying to become a teacher. He’s always been a relaxed, engaging guy. I was astounded by what I was seeing, with how these customers were reacting to him. I don’t imagine his tactics would work on every customer, but they were certainly working better than mine.
You see, I would always try to just rattle off the rules as quickly as possible, trying to squish as much information into as tiny a space as possible before I lost the customer’s attention (which sometimes you never get at all). It seemed like every year it got worse, too – fewer and fewer customers would actually listen to what I was saying. It was all I could do to convey our two most important rules before the customer just walked away while I was mid-sentence.
But after watching my coworker, I tried going slower, and I started to get results more similar to his.
If I went slower, so did they.
If I took the time, so would they. I can now get one or two extra things in, and I get the sense that they’re actually listening to me, not just waving a hand with a “yeah, whatever” and not actually absorbing anything.
So next time you’re frustrated with people not paying attention, maybe, instead of speeding up, try slowing down.