A Lesson in Customer Service Basics

I was recently running errands and stopped in a local sandwich shop to grab lunch.  It is a typical local shop with an order here, pay here arrangement.  As I approached the counter, I was met with a very pleasant smile from the woman behind the counter who said “Hello”.  I gave her my order and as I continued the process of naming the sandwich toppings, she raised her head from her work and looked at me while I spoke.  She looked pleased that I made the decision to stop in her store and was focused on providing great customer service.  In turn, I was happy with my restaurant choice.


A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” – Chinese proverb


As it came time to pay, I made a comment about the weather – and saw in her face that she did not understand what I had said.  There was a language barrier between us – but that did not change the fact that she had just created a great experience.  I had already formed my opinion of the interaction before I even realized that we did not have the benefit of verbal communication.


Some of the customer service basics seem obvious – but as I ate, I was struck with how her sincere smile and attentiveness made the interaction pleasant.  She was intently watching my face to pick up on visual clues about what I was communicating and my mood.  I then realized that this type of focus is uncommon in many of the service transactions that I experience.


Dale Carnegie, author of the best-selling self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People, said that the expression on one’s face is far more important than the clothes on one’s back. Your face is the most obvious and effective method of non-verbal communication.  Smiling will overcome barriers and open doors for you.  A sincere smile, one that can be seen in your eyes, is a message of goodwill, and is considered a sign of hospitality and confidence when dealing with a friend or a business associate.


Are you seeing that kind of attentive, sincere interaction in your branches?  Is your front-line team earnestly studying the faces of your clients looking for visual clues about their needs?  Could they provide a great customer service experience without the benefit of verbal communication?  Challenge them today.  This type of sincere engagement will create a loyal bond with your customers.