Customer Service: The Power of Hello

In our, oh-so-connected world, we too often forget just how important and valuable connecting with humans as humans is in our shared life experiences. Penni Wells, Leadership Quantified's Expert in Customer Service, weighs in on this from a particularly interesting perspective...the unexpected impact we have on one another and how a simple "hello"  makes all the difference.
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So I’m listening to an interview with Tom Hooper, the director of the film adaptation of the stage musical, Les Miserables. He was talking about the ability of the story and music to illicit such strong emotional reactions from the audience. He stated:
“I mean, there are people who say that they start crying at ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ and basically don't stop crying … and that was when I thought, ‘God, there's something fascinating going on here.’ As you watch these songs, in your mind, you make connections to suffering in your own life story....
The musical has this extraordinary ability to make you feel better about it. And it offers a catharsis....It's interesting. You're not really crying for the character. You're crying for something in your own life. So you're crying for yourself. And I think that's what I'll take forward is a new understanding of what catharsis means.”
Reflections like his bring me to the first part of Thoreau’s famous quote: 
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation [and go to the grave with the song still unsung]." 
It can seem discouraging, but I've observed and experienced it as 
Most moms lead lives of quiet exhaustion, or
Most teenagers lead lives of quiet apprehension, or
Most employees lead lives of quiet confusion, or
Most people lead lives of continuous, conflicting priorities.
This is why, when I’m in a position of serving customers, I plan for the extra second or two to pause, smile and say, "Hello." 

I don’t always ask people how they are, because: 
  • It can sound hollow - particularly if said in quick succession to too many people without waiting for an answer
  • There may not be time to say it - such as when working a Return Counter the day after Christmas, or 
  • It may not be appropriate - such as working in a Hospital Emergency Room.

But that moment – that intentional pause, smile and greeting – may be the only contact that customer has that day with kindness.

Affecting someone’s feelings - even in a small yet positive way with a “Hello” or “How can I help you?” - is more than a turnstile-click to the next customer. 

It is, very possibly, the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
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