Customer Service & Then Some … Should you smile when you answer the phone?

What is the power of a genuine smile? I don’t mean some fake changing of the muscles on your face, I mean a genuine smile which comes from within, that is a reflection of what is inside?

A former boss of mine instructed people answering the phone to smile when they talk. Sounds a bit absurd, right? I mean the person on the other end has no clue as to how you look or act when they call you, or do they?

A genuine smile reflects what is going on inside and can be picked up whether a person is in front of you or not.

Last week I was on Santana Row in San Jose, California, for a conference. We went to several different fairly expensive restaurants where the wine and cocktail drink menus were endless and the food list contained words from other languages requiring some interpretation from staff.

You would expect that given the exclusivity of Santana Row (a central point for the 250,000 millionaires living in the San Jose area) that the service would match the price, unfortunately many of our experiences last week did not hold this to be true.

There was one wonderful exception, however, her name is Casey and she works at Sino, “the hottest restaurant and lounge on Santana.”

Casey did something I’ve never seen before in all my ventures for culinary pleasure, she smiled every time she exited the kitchen with a plate of food. It wasn’t a fake smile, it was a “I can’t wait until you see what I’m bringing you” smile. And we had a good view as we were seated just outside of the kitchen door.

Typically the kitchen is the “safe zone” for restaurant staff to be themselves, so her energy and smile were all the more contagious. The chefs did a great job, so the food matched the attitude, but I think Casey could have brought me a tuna fish sandwich from my daughter’s lunch box and I would have been excited by her attitude and the way she brought out the food.

As you look at your business, occupation, J-O-B or whatever it is that you do every day, do you approach it with enthusiasm and dedication – and a smile? If not, why not – and more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

“Customer Service and Then Some” was the motto of my manager when I was a student security officer at Brigham Young University. I was struck by the phrase as I thought for security it should be more like “kick ass and take names,” but I started to see the logic. Our role was to deescalate situations. To keep people’s dignity intact when they put themselves in precarious situations. To provide “valued added” services outside of the job description.

Customer Service is something that is taught. It is the semantics of how to answer a question, how to escalate a situation. “Customer Service and Then Some” requires much more. It is looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective and asking, “how would I like to be treated if the roles were reversed?”

Dee Hock, founder of Visa, states it clearly,
“Ph.D. in leadership. Short course:
– Make a short list of all the things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others. Ever.
Make another list of things done to you that you loved. Do them to others. Always.”
(YouTube search “Tom Peters: Gain Respect by Giving It”)

Determine now how you like to be treated. Then start treating others the same way.

LEARN: Be sure part of each morning contains reading or listening to inspirational material, and making a mental or written plan for how you will treat others. – ACT: Write a note to three people who have impacted you in a positive way in the past week – SHARE: Identify 2-3 accountability coaches who will call you out when you are not being your best self, and congratulate you when you knock it out of the park. Share great customer service experiences.

Disclaimer: Negativity and positive actions both attract more of the same. I’ve found negativity to be draining, depressing, and a waste of time. Smiling too much too fast may result in facial muscle discomfort. Be sure to warm up properly each morning with small smiles before going for an ear-to-ear grin. If you have not smiled in a very long time, please consult your doctor for proper medical advice and start small. Smiling may lead to more friends and less selfish self-loathing down time, so plan accordingly. 🙂

Peter Anthony Ferguson

Create Your Badge


One thought on “Customer Service & Then Some … Should you smile when you answer the phone?

  1. Pingback: It’s All About the User Experience | learnactshare

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