No Pointing Allowed: How A Small Gesture Can Make A Big Difference
“Where’s the restroom?” – “Down that hall, to the right.” (Finger pointing to the back of the restaurant).
This is a pretty common occurrence when out at a restaurant, cafe or retail store. I’d even dare to say it is a normal occurrence. Despite my “no pointing” rant below, I am not offended in anyway when it happens. I asked a question, I got a response. It’s just how that interaction between a waiter and myself usually goes.
However, have you ever wandered down that hall in the restaurant, unsure of where to go because the directions weren’t quite clear? Are there one or more hallways you could have gone down? Are there more than one doors on the right? Do you feel alone or stupid for needing clarification on where something is (even though you should have no idea where it is)? I have.
I remember I visited a spa not too long ago, and wanted to change before my appointment began. I was told the bathroom / changing room was (*point*) “through that door.” Well, I walked through the door, and somehow, after wandering aimlessly down a hall, ended up in the employees’ break room. The employees asked if I was looking for the bathroom, and then told me it was the first door under the exit sign in the hallway. The employees didn’t look surprised to see me either, which leads me to believe that many clients end up back there by mistake.
When I worked at Ralph Lauren, there was (and presumably still is) a strict “no pointing” rule for employees on the sales floor. If a client asked where something was (be it the restroom, men’s clothing, or simply the exit), we were to escort them there. If you could not take your guest where they wanted to go, you were to either gesture and describe the way there, or ask a colleague to show them. But no pointing. Ever.
Is pointing really that big of a deal? Maybe. Maybe not. But I like to think of it this way: imagine if you invited a friend over to your house for dinner, and they asked you where the bathroom was. Would you point and say, “that way”? Probably not. Most likely, you would show them yourself, and ensure that they have what they needed.
My advice is to treat your store, restaurant or café like your home and be the ultimate host or hostess. How would you greet someone? How would you show them a different part of your home, if they requested to see it? If they had never been there before, what background information would you give them so that they felt comfortable?
Pointing may seem like a little thing, but making your customers feel truly taken care of is quite a big thing. With a simple change in behavior, you can dramatically upgrade your customers’ experience at your business, and who wouldn’t want that?