Version: First part of the ride
Title: Is there hope for customer service in the age of self checkout?
personal rant after a trip to the grocery store...
handed me my receipt but he didn't even turn to look at me. I plucked
the receipt and waited. Nothing. "Thank you." Nothing. He didn't say
a thing - eyes unfocused, looking away. And so I lost my cool a little
and said, "This is where you say thank you."
his attention. Finally. After checking out a hundred dollars worth of groceries,
he looked at me. "Why," he asked.
"Because I can shop anywhere, but I chose to shop here."
that, I had gone too far. I had lost him. I folded the receipt and tucked
it into my wallet, promising never to shop here again.
Are my expectations unreasonable? A hello and a thank you make
a difference. W hen
was the last time you were greeted at the checkout line with eye contact,
a hello and - a smile? If you have, I'm sure you remember. Maybe it's just
because it's my business, but I always notice it when there's not some
Working on the frontline is hard. A steady stream of customers who
want something, want it now - and don't often say thank you. Yes, it's
not a place for the weak of heart. I think that's why many people go
into a shell and just go through the motions. Unfortunately, they're
missing something very important. Although there will be occasional
customers who "burn" you with their acid tongues, the majority of customers
are open to a little connection - and will reward service people who
give it. And the service people who give it - get it. It feels good.
a smile with a stranger is a great experience. Smiling reduces
stress, lowers blood pressure - in fact, there are some research studies
that indicate simply seeing someone else perform an act of kindness has
an affect on one's own physiological state. There must be something in
our makeup as social beings that appreciates a positive interaction.
So how can we inspire frontline people to get into that flow? It's not
something that can be legislated - yes, you can make it a rule to smile
and say thank you. But the truth is, genuine warmth has to come from
within. Everyone's got it, but many hide it away. If you can give them
a taste of how it feels to have positive interactions, they'll make the
"effort" to bring it out.
The SMILE! Faciliator's Guide has some great tips for starting conversations
around attitude and service. And there are many other resources, too.
If you visit our links page, you can visit the Walk the Talk Company.
They publish short business books that are packed with great information
Thanks for sitting listening to my grocery store checkout saga. I'd love
to hear yours, too! As well as any solutions you have discovered.
Title: SMILE! blog opens!
Abstract: The first stop on SMILE! blog route - we pick
up a new training tip.
Body: Greetings. We've finally got SMILE! cruising on
the blog highway! Joel here - Reggie and I welcome you to the SMILE! blog.
Each week we'll be sharing ideas and tips from the SMILE! bus, hope you'll
stay tuned and send us your feedback.
This was a great week for SMILE! I traveled to Seattle to present a SMILE!
seminar for a non-profit group that works with pets. What a great facility.
They showed me all the beautiful dogs, cats and other "pre-owned"
pets - I wanted to take them all home! I was very impressed with the staff's
level of commitment. They shared some touching stories about situations
that arise... I'm sure you can imagine.
Preparing for the seminar, I wasn't sure what improved customer service
at this facility would look like - more treats for the dogs? As we talked,
they identified three benefits of excellent customer service:
1. Creates TRUST.
2. Develops LOYALTY with the community of clients and donors.
3. Builds MORALE for the staff to enjoy.
What a great set-up for the meeting. I promptly cued up the DVD and rolled
SMILE! There were a lot of smiles during the showing, and also a few rolled
eyes at Reggie's jokes - yes, some of them are pretty corny.
After the tape, there were a lot of comments and we had a very interesting
conversation about customer care and what it takes to choose a positive
attitude. Some funny stories there, too.
Internal customer service: Here's an aspect that many companies don't
consider. "They know I care, let's just get this done." The
staff shared their feelings about inter-departmental customer service.
If you haven't had a conversation about this, I recommend it.
NEW TRAINING TIP: I broke the group into small teams
and gave them an assignment to come up with an acronym like SMILE! that
reflects the kind of customer service they wish to provide. Imaginations
ran wild and the room was filled with a lot of laughs. Then, each team
presented their word - SNIFF, HEART, EMPATHY, and... POOP! I can't remember
what each letter stood for, but everyone had fun. I made a note to add
that to the Leader's Guide for the next printing. In the meantime, if
you're leading a SMILE! session soon, give it a try.
Many people ask me, does Reggie still drive the bus? Yes, he's still a
full-time driver for Seattle Metro. Next time you're in Seattle, you can
actually ride his route. I'll try to get the info and post it here. Every
6 to 8 weeks, the routes change and Reggie introduces a new bunch of riders
to SMILE! He's always giving out SMILE! buttons and real smiles. I visited
him last week and he repeated what he's been saying since the beginning,
"I love people and I love doing something that will make their day.
It just feels good for me."
Sounds good to me.