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SunShower Learning
Tel: 888-723-8517
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Customer Service
and Attitude
Training Program

Rated #1
Service Training

by the people who
matter most:
your frontline people!


The SMILE! blog
Version: First part of the ride

November 29, 2005
Title: Is there hope for customer service in the age of self checkout?

Abstract: A personal rant after a trip to the grocery store...

Body: He 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."

That got 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."

nd with 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 personal contact.

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.

Sharing 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 and inspiration.

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.


August 14, 2005
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.