If You Work with Customers, You Need to Be Friendly (Or at least act friendly)


I rarely trek grocery store aisles these days. I order online and either have my food delivered, or I get my bags brought right out to my car. At the grocery store yesterday, I rolled my window down as the employee approached, dragging the cart behind her. I smiled, and when she got to my window, I practically sang, “How are you?”

And you know what the employee said to that? Nothing. Not even a pretense of a smile. In fact, I think her eyes uttered something like, What kind of day does it look like I’m having? She deered in my gaze for a second, then confirmed, “Golden?”

She snuffed my enthusiasm, and I noticed my face felt as buttoned-up as her attitude. I signed her phone to accept my groceries, and she loaded my bags without a word.

I’ll concede that my high energy is perhaps too friendly for some people. I get that people are busy. And sometimes you’re not having a good day. But, is whatever’s going on with you so serious that you can’t return a smile or chuck, “I’m fine, thanks?” to your customer?

I felt swatted like a mosquito, and the employee’s reaction was on my mind when I got the store’s survey fifteen minutes later.

My point is this. If you’ve chosen to work in customer service, even if this merely a “job” for you, you owe it to your customers to at the very least feign friendliness.

You can turn the corners of your mouth to return a smile, and you can answer the “How are you?” question without getting into a tea discussion. Simply reply with something like, “I’m well. How nice of you to ask. Golden?”

You can up your friendly factor by doing two things.

One. Seek Out Customer Contact

When you’re walking down halls or aisles, look up and out at people. Smile, make eye contact, and greet customers – both internal and external. This little courtesy makes a significant impact.

Two. Respond to Greetings

I was listening to recorded calls for a call center client and was stunned when I heard this exchange.

Employee: “Thank you for calling ABC Company; this is Daniel.”

Customer: “Hi, Daniel! How are you?”

Employee: “How can I help you today?”It would take less than five seconds for Daniel to say, “I’m well; how nice of you to ask. How may I help you?”

Be friendly or act friendly. It’s part of what you signed up in customer service.

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