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The Six Canons of Great Service – Part II: Smile and Welcome Your Customers Warmly


As we discussed in part I, there are six key ingredients to the ideal Service Recipe.  These were summarized in the last installment and now it’s time to dive head long into the first of our service tenants.

Smile and Welcome Your Customers Warmly

It’s easy to dismiss items as too basic to the Guest experience.

Resist that urge.

Every list of Customer service must-dos lists smiling as a necessary piece of the puzzle. Have you noticed how often that isn’t delivered in the market place? The fact that this is under-delivered presents fantastic opportunity for differentiation on a field which most think is already well captured. Fact of the matter is that most Customers don’t get a smile during their visits and that is where you can steal the show.

There is a lot of discussion around the smile and not a lot of agreement. For my part, I plan to share with you my take on the matter and what I think is important based on 22 years of Customer facing management experience.

First of all, you can’t not smile back at folks who smile at you, right? Warm smiles make for a fantastic welcome and let’s face it, if you start off an interaction with everyone smiling you well on your way to excellence. Couple this with a politely phrased greeting and your Customers will feel incredibly welcome.

There is much ado about the psychology of the smile – some say it can make you happier and others say that there is no basis for such a claim. I can tell you that when I’m in the middle of a busy day at work and the business is booming, a smile absolutely makes me feel better. I can feel my heart rate go down, I feel more positive about the situation, and folks smile back which makes me feel good just because. I honestly don’t care if it’s all in my head or not, because it puts me in a fantastic frame of mind to be “of service.”

So what do you have to risk? Smile away and let it work its magic.

Now the smile itself isn’t enough – it has to be genuine. We’ve all seen the dead smile – the one that looks better on Caesar Romero or Jack Nicholson than the guy making your burrito. It doesn’t quite reach the eyes, you know – now that doesn’t make the guy a sociopath, but it doesn’t smack of genuine either. This one is tricky because you have to feel it. The best advice I can give is to find your joy. To reach deep down and find the love for what you do and channel that into your daily work. . .this will make your smile warm and genuine. For Leaders you don’t just have to worry about yourself; you have to help those on your team find the joy as well. This is where those motivational skills will come in handy.

If you started the shift off with a rocking pre-service huddle then you are well on your way. Well placed positive phrases and appreciation will keep you rolling from there. Throughout the shift you’ll need to pepper in high energy and well placed recognitions to keep everyone fresh and motivated as the day goes along. It would be great if a dose of positivity at the beginning of the day would carry your team all the way to the finish line, but seldom is that the case.

As for the welcome, well, that’s at least a little more straight forward.

If you’ve ever walked up the glowing menu board of a fast food counter and gotten the thousand-yard-stare in return you know why the welcome is so uber important. Nothing says “get away from me” quite so clearly as the blank stare of an uninterested cashier.

But training can help here. Start during onboarding and set the expectation. From there, you should role play and make sure that your new charge understands exactly what makes for a great greeting. Teach them to stand up straight strait, look their Guest in the eye, smile warmly and use some equivalent of “May I help you?” The good news is that there are no bonus points for creativity – but there is always extra credit available for hospitality. There are some great examples out there – Chick-fil-A, Raising Canes, Lowes, and Best Buy are fantastic at the warm welcome.

Once you have the training and expectation squared away, you have to nurture and develop it. If you set the standard and then neglect it, you are just as guilty as the apathetic cashier who sold me my cheeseburger yesterday. You have to train it. You have to model it. You have to enforce it. Otherwise these are just words with no juice to them.

So take the time to find the joy at work and channel that into a winning smile. You might just find yourself happier, more stress free, and even more productive. But most importantly, it makes you appear warm and friendly to your Customers and those on your team.

This is part and parcel of the mission to ensure that every Customer who visits your business is welcomed as a cherished friend. That can’t help but start each interaction off in the best possible way and begin to drive true loyalty.

Take Care, Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader-


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