Thursday, 2 March 2017

Phone Smile

When running a business we can look at small changes as well as the big picture. Small alterations can make an incredible difference to the customer experience, as well as how the staff feel. Ask your staff to smile whilst talking to clients. Sounds mad? Try it!

In one role we had engaged a company to manage the telephone system between the companies. I dreaded there being any issues. The company had two main employees who ‘supported’ our company. One was a chipper upbeat soul – a pleasure to deal with. The other was rude, unpleasant and if he was having a bad day oh boy did you know about it. It was an unnerving experience having to speak to him. I found out a number of colleagues had experienced the same issue with him. At least I was not being judgemental.

One day I emailed a query and asked for the nice staff member (I used his name not the term ‘nice staff member’) to deal with it. Alas, the rude one called. He could tell by my tone I was less than pleased. Today he was delightful. I surmised that he realised why I had asked for the other person to call. I will stick to that belief. My suspicions are that he was having one good day.

The reason for this story? This person showed his poor attitude frequently. His approach reflected on his company not just him. As my company had chosen them I had to deal with them. As a business owner I will never use that company. If he moves on to another company and I encounter him they will get no further business from me either. 

We all have bad days. We are human. It would be remiss to suggest we should all be smiling drones all the time. It would look like something from a science fiction or horror film. However, those who are front line staff must keep their display of their ‘bad day’ to a minimum. Sometimes our mood can be affected by how we are treated by clients. A client over the phone can be more abrasive than they would be face-to-face. That is unpleasant and we must do our best to deal with it.

Having just completed a phone call a colleague told me I liked what I had done there. I was not sure what he meant. He told me I had smiled during the call. He went on to say the person on the other end of the phone can hear a smile. It was not a conscious decision. He told me he had noticed that I frequently smiled whilst on the phone. At the time it was quite challenging for our business. So a number of the calls I made and fielded were not overly positive. Part of the reason I smiled was to bolster myself during exchanges that could have been more pleasant. 

This seemed a useful tactic. So I adopted it. Twenty years later I do it as often as I can. One of the consequences is that it helps me. I feel better by smiling. Clients have commented of how cheerful I am. It benefits all concerned. During challenging calls I keep smiling. It stops me responding in kind. People cannot see my smile. They can hear it though.

Get a Phone Smile

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