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The Six Canons of Great Service – Part V: Stay Positive and Friendly


Customers absolutely hate negativity!

There is much more power in starting with YES. You would think some days there is a contest out there for how often rules and nonsense can get in the way of a great Customer experience.

Now that isn’t to say that you have to honor every single ask as requested, but there are ways to satisfy your Customer and “policy” at the same time.

First of all, make sure policies makes sense. If it’s stupid, then change it. I am sure there was a collective gasp out there by folks who may work for large, corporate entities with lots of red tape. That certainly is a barrier, but not one that should be debilitating. The ask here is to challenge the status quo, to find a better way, and to rock the boat (just a little) for the good of your Customer. You’ll have to find your comfort zone with this one, but anything that can satisfy the customer and not break the bank should fall within the guard rails. Of course engage your Leader for clarity where appropriate to be sure you don’t run astray of your organizational mission.

Find a way to use a “why not” rather than a “why” perspective. When we start with YES and move into making that happen rather than finding excuses to say no, this puts us in a frame of mind that leads to solving our Customers’ issues. That’s not to say that you are going to be able to make an exception to every rule and meet every over-the-top demand, but there is always opportunity to compromise and find a way to creatively address the situation.

If you cost your Customer time, is there a way to make that up by moving their order to the front of the line or expediting shipping? If you didn’t deliver on a product, can you replace or discount? Chances are your Customers don’t want the world when they ask for exceptions – just to be heard and considered.

The second thing to remember is the need for a positive and friendly attitude. Your Customers couldn’t possibly care less about what bums you or your team out – so don’t bother them with it.

You can absolutely impact the positivity of your team on a daily basis. If you keep an upbeat attitude and open line of communication with your team, you can absolutely inspire them. Also remember, if you stay positive and friendly with your team then they will pay that forward. Being cognizant of that reflective nature of your team can definitely help you win here.

This is why great Leaders not only stay positive themselves, but are always on the lookout for negativity that can destroy their upbeat mojo. Asking your team about issues they are having, and allowing them to vent about frustrations, can definitely help here. Team members may approach you with personal issues or work based issues, and sometimes all they need is an ear. Taking that time to listen, help with solutions, and energize them back into position can help them provide that friendly service your Customers demand.

The same can be said for being friendly. Leaders can inspire this in their teams by making sure that several key actions are clearly defined and scripted:

  1. Every Customer receives a warm welcome, including a fantastic smile

  2. Front Line Associates use polite phrases such as “please” and “my pleasure”

  3. Each Customer is THANKED for their business

  4. Only positive phrases are used – and the word “no” is as unwelcome as J.K. Rowling’s “He Who Must Not Be Named”

It is important to note that you can do all of this and things still may not go to plan.

Sometimes you can do everything in your power and folks still won’t stand and deliver for your Customers. If you go through a very thorough hiring process, complete with behavior based questions, you should screen out a majority of the Freddy Frowners that we seek to keep off our sales floors. But solid interviewing isn’t foolproof.

You’ll have to keep a close eye on your team (See my earlier post “Own Your Dirt” for details). Manage your shifts minute by minute to be sure that your team is delivering on that promise. You’ll have to coach in the moment and follow up afterward on those not making the grade. If you don’t take action on those providing less than stellar service, you are endorsing their behaviors by default – and that poison will quickly spread through your team.

So the key here is make sure your team understands the service expectation, is empowered to make decisions when it comes to handling Customer requests, and embraces a positive energy.

Sounds easy right?

Well, if it were easy there would be no challenge. And let’s face it, then everyone would be able to deliver on these promises and deprive you of the chance to stand apart as the CEO of Service Town.

Take care, stay positive, and head out right now to inspire that positive environment that leads to great service.

Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader and Speaker-


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