Brits seem to get a bad press for their attitude and lack of customer service, leaving disgruntled customers moaning about the way in which they have been treated and the lack of a friendly smile.
It’s fair to say that if you work in a customer-facing role, then a happy and helpful persona definitely doesn’t go amiss. But do customers constantly look and dwell on the negative experiences and overlook the positive ones?
It must be difficult to put on a happy face when you have rude and obnoxious customers! STOP ……. I hear you say, that’s what they’re paid for, it’s their job to listen to customers, to deal with rudeness and accept complaints, all to be done pleasantly and with a smile!
One day, I met my daughter in Oxford Street for a girlie late night shopping trip, it was the normal busy Thursday evening where every man, woman and tourist were out trawling the shops. AT the time, this was a new experience for my daughter, whom had been shopping plenty of times before but never on a Thursday evening in London.
Enjoying the buzz of the area and lapping up the atmosphere we moved from shop to shop, doing the normal female thing of, let’s look in every shop first and then we’ll go back to the first one we started in!
Each store we visited, we were met with a smiling face asking us if we wanted any help. My daughter responded with her usual happy persona, along the lines of “no thank you, we’re just looking”, nothing new there! After about the fourth store, my daughter remarked at how lovely and happy all the shop assistants were, a complete contrast to the experience she had been expecting in our busy Capital.
The assistants were clearly doing their job but if we had responded with grunts and miserable faces or ignored them completely, what sort of response would we have had and how demotivating would it be for them?
I like to think that I am a cheerful, positive person but this can be tested when I am met with someone who is unhappy, ignorant or just down right rude, it can then be difficult to remain upbeat. So why do we expect customer facing employees to do it simply because they are being paid? Human feelings run deeper than that!
Since that evening in Oxford Street, I have consciously looked for the positive experiences and have seen some great advocates of customer service, from the Costa coffee shop that I use to frequent on the way to work through to my annual car servicing.
One particular person that I was impressed with was a shop assistant in Oxford Streets retail store, Next, serving an elderly gentleman. The gentleman became a bit flustered, aware of the queue of customers forming behind him and started to move away from the till area with his wallet openly in his hand still trying to put his change away.
The assistant kindly stopped him, brought him back a few steps and assured him that there was no rush, making sure that he put his wallet safely away before moving off. She didn’t dismiss him, she didn’t huff and puff at him, instead she caringly reminded him of the risk of walking with your wallet and cash openly on display!
This was all done with natural, genuine compassion and thoughtfulness for the gentleman. Once she was satisfied that the he was safely on his way, she then continued with the next customer (me) with as much positive energy as she had demonstrated seconds earlier.
Today both my son and daughter work in roles where they are dealing directly with the public, one in the hospitality trade and the other in sports activities. They are both naturally happy people and have been given lots of positive feedback from both customers and employers. And guess what ………………… it gives them a good feeling which is transferred on to the next group of customers that they meet giving everyone involved an enjoyable experience.
I agree that employers and direct management have a huge impact on the happiness within a team making sure that they feel valued and treated as human beings. This will then ultimately be passed on through to the customers BUT as the consumer, we can also do our bit to help.
So come on everyone, lets help people carry out their day to day customer service duties happily and put those mobile devices down when we are being addressed or at a check out, offer a smile, eye contact and a friendly response, it only takes seconds and costs us nothing but can make so much difference!
With Christmas not being far away now (sorry to bring that up) why not make the sentiment “The season of good cheer” last for the whole twelve months each year rather than just a few weeks, I’m sure that we will all be happier people from it.