By Cathy Thurber
One of our esteemed owners, Marc, happened to mention a while back that smiling was one of the best things you could do. It’s one of the easiest ways to give customer service, whether on the phone or in person. That got me to thinking – if customer service begins with a smile, how do you learn that particular technique? Does it actually originate from how you were raised?
I teach my kids all the time the importance of smiling. Not only does it show you’re a relatively friendly person, but it can just help a person’s mood in general. Yes, it does actually help your day when you smile at people. I think it’s just one of those things that buoy your mood. If you smile, you tend to have a more positive attitude. Unless, of course, it’s truly more of a grimace than a smile – like my son’s 3rd grade picture. Then you can just tell that person feels no happiness whatsoever at that point, and is actually repeating to himself, “Just take the picture already. I can’t hold this smile any longer!”
It’s more than just a lift in your own attitude, though. Smiling is respectful. When you are walking down the street and happen to meet eyes with someone, you should smile. Smiling is a way to say thank you to someone helping you. When you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, you should smile at the cashier ringing you out. Or when you are in a restaurant, smile at your waiter/waitress. It’ll get you better service and they’re more willing to go the extra mile if you ask for something.
What I tell my kids is this: you never know what that smile means to someone else. Maybe the person you saw in the street just had a horrible day and your smile was the first nice thing that happened to them. Perhaps it helped lift a weight off their shoulders. Or, possibly, that kind smile you gave the checkout cashier showed her that not all people going through her line are ready to bite her head off. And that waitress? Your smile could have reminded her that there is something worthwhile in serving others.
My son just found that out the other week. He smiled at the girl in the pizza shop helping us and then joked with her a bit. By the time we left, he had scored his own pizza roll and Mountain Dew, plus a whole pepperoni pizza, all for just the cost of his smile. And, I actually had a woman stop me in the grocery store last month just to comment on how lovely my daughter was for smiling at her, since it seemed no teenager her age ever does.
Teach your kids to smile. It’s a lifelong skill. Plus, you never know who you’re going to help that day, even if it’s just yourself.