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Talk to the hand - or service with a smile?

Lack of people focus

Posted by: happyjellyfishgmail-com

People Management

Task versus people focus – what does your company need?

Mei you!”* (No!)

The voice, surprisingly shrill for someone who appears to be asleep, carries across the cavernous room. A blue-clad arm with white elbow protectors waves me away. The shop assistant’s head is not moving from its resting position on the counter.

“But… I haven’t said what I wanted to buy yet?” I say in English, somewhat baffled.


“Er… so probably not, then. Bye!”

This was my first encounter with customer service in China. I had just arrived in Beijing in 1988 and needed something from the optimistically named Friendship Store – a place where you could buy foreign-made goods and pay with US dollars.

In those days, workers were paid the same whether they actually did any work or not. In the Friendship Store, staff could snooze their way through the day without bothering to serve troublesome customers.

This woman was probably the worst customer service representative that I have ever come across, and, living under a political system that didn’t appear to reward service mindedness or initiative, didn’t exactly help.

Too busy concentrating to be disturbed

However, people seemingly without an ounce of customer-focus can be found everywhere. Being on the receiving end of their curtness (efficiency, they might call it) and unfriendliness makes you think: Well, here we have someone who shouldn’t be the face of the company.

And you would be exactly right.

There are people who find it really difficult to be disturbed by someone when they are busily concentrating on a task, even perhaps if the task is snoozing!

Their brain finds it hard to handle the onslaught of an unexpected disruption, such as a customer coming into their shop or a manager calling to ask about a missing document. Why? Because their brain is already 100% engaged in concentrating on the task at hand.

It’s not that they dislike people or never want to interact with others. If it is the task that drives them, then interacting with people will inevitably be seen as an inconvenience, an interruption. They often don’t feel comfortable being approached, but want to be the ones approaching others, in their own good time, when they are mentally prepared.

Overly ‘task-oriented’ people might need to have less engagement with clients 

The unfriendly receptionist, the sour waiter, the ‘talk to the hand’ sales rep – we have all met them. They have one thing in common: They will send customers running to your competitors in droves.

Of course, anyone can have a bad day or week, but in your company, you may need to be able to trust your staff’s ability to connect to your customers. After all, your employees represent you. Their likeability, and their ability to engage clients and customers, will have to shine through no matter what.

RPX2 Ltd helps you find the right people

In a time when so many meetings, even job interviews, are held virtually via Zoom, you can’t rely so much on your normally unfailing gut feelings to get a good reading on someone’s likely workplace behaviour.

But now you don’t have to.

The tried and tested Predictive Index Behavioral AssessmentTM is a shortcut to finding out what your new team member is really like. Finding the right position for the right person will make them happier and a thousand times more productive. It will ensure that your customers get the treatment they deserve, and that your employee can work to their strengths.

Why not connect with one of our expert PI Consultants to find out if your new hire is likely to prefer concentrating on the task at hand – or loves nothing more than being ‘disturbed’ by unexpected clients?

*Pronounced “may yoh”, Mandarin Chinese for “There isn’t any! Without! Didn’t! None! The man with the key is not here! I can’t be bothered!”

Picture by Luis Molinero on Freepik