I got this story from one of my colleagues.
Our big boss, who manages all of our stores in Germany, Swiss and Austria, is apparently a pretty cool guy. I haven’t met him yet. He’s a tall Filipino guy and dressed as lax as some of our more lax customers; t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, whatever, as long as it’s comfortable. He does dress up when he’s got a meeting with other big bosses, but is usually dressed in a way that you would never recognize him as a big deal. You can probably see where this is going.
One day, he dropped in at one of the stores and the store was empty except for him and the employees. The employees were all standing and fiddling around on their phones. Now, this guy is pretty cool about the whole phone usage: it’s okay to have it on your person and you can do things on it, as long as there are no customers around that require your assistance.
There’s also the rule of our stores that you greet customers and ask them if they are looking for something specific or need some help from you. You don’t have to jump them as soon as they enter the store, but you can’t just ignore them while they are browsing for too long.
So, the boss is walking around, browsing and keeps his eye on the employees. He even has prolonged eye-contact with one of them who looks up, sees him… and then goes back to focusing on the phone. Boss did this for about 20 minutes.
End result: everyone at that store on that day was fired for ignoring a potential customer. (The only ones who remained were the manager of the store and the new part-timer, who were both not on duty that evening)
Certainly seems harsh, but ignoring a potential customer for TWENTY minutes? I’m all for letting a person browse and not bugging them. But I do pop up after a few minutes, just asking if they are searching or browsing and, if it’s the latter, to just ‘scream if they need anything’. Willfully ignoring a customer? Especially for your phone? Yeah, I think he had good reason to fire them.