mobile, phone, customerservice“Is it unreasonable to expect the shopkeeper to get off his phone and acknowledge me rather than just stick his hand out for the money?” tweeted the friend of a friend.

My friend passed the message on to me, observing: “I saw this tweet today by one of my friends and I thought you might be interested in it. Independents pride themselves on their service, but the experience my friend had below is a common one (certainly in my experience) and not something that happens in the multiples…”

There is a mix of good news and bad. The good news is that my friends clearly have high expectations of independent retailers.

The bad news is that for shopkeepers who live in their shops, balancing work and phone calls is tricky. Do you have a policy of never serving while on the telephone? Do you stick to it?

The place to start is to stand on the other side of the counter and ask yourself as a shopper, what value is being added by the shopkeeper? If there is ample choice of alternative places to go to buy what you want, then greater attention to good service is necessary. If there is no choice, then good service is less important.

Remember, you do not have to please every shopper and you can choose which shoppers to please. But even so, it is hard to justify speaking on the phone while serving.