August 17, 2009

Hire For Smiles

Think about the last time you were a customer. What impression did you get about the service provider and what he or she was thinking?


  1. I do not care about you…why are you interrupting me?
  2. Going through the motions…is it 5:00 yet?
  3. They trained me to smile and make eye contact whether I want to or not
  4. I genuinely like people and want to assist you

If you had a number 4 employee…you were in luck. Were you also surprised? Would you have settled for anything more than a 1 employee and happy if you had a number 3? I had several number 4 experiences recently and was pleasantly surprised.


The first one was at Bed, Bath and Beyond. When the clerk realized they didn't have the item I needed, he suggested two other stores. That certainly was above and beyond. The second was at the Marriott in Costa Rica. The servers were trained to learn customer names and they memorized ours quickly and greeted us like we were long lost relatives when they saw us.


Talk to anyone and they probably can tell you about a poor customer service story. They are much more prevalent than good customer service stories. It makes me wonder if people are hired that way or develop poor attitudes towards customers after they have worked for the company awhile.


It all begins with hiring the right critical skills for the position. A customer contact position should logically be filled with someone who genuinely likes people and wants to provide a service. Hire for smiles is a good phrase to remember when interviewing service personnel. A few techniques to determine if your candidate has the right skills:


· Observe Facial Expression and Body Language: During the interview did the candidate smile frequently? Did their facial expression show interest in what you were saying? Chances are that if they smiled easily at you they will smile at your customers.

· Ask Behavior Based Questions: Ask your candidate for specific examples of how they supplied superior service to customers. Ask for what they specifically did to help the customer and the results of their actions.

· Review Resume: Review their resume for a track record of positions where they served customers. Ask for more detail of their duties and responsibilities related to customer contact. How do they answer your questions? Do they appear happily animated when describing contact with customers or annoyed?


What happens when your team members lose their smiles? There are many reasons for this but quite often it is because they have not been given the tools or training that will help them help your customers. If smiles disappear, ask your employees what they need to serve customers better.

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