Would you rather be on the receiving end of a fake smile, or a genuine scowl?
Sitting in a Chicago restaurant waiting for my flight back to the UK, an endlessly cheerful, bubbly, smiling, bouncing teenage waitress was fussing over me like a mother hen. That’s the Americans for you.
I found myself wondering whether a more sober, less obtrusive, less-happy British waitress would improve my customer service experience.
It’s a fine line to tread – do you want life to be sugar-coated, or would you prefer a touch of realism. It’s the red pill or the blue pill.
These days, small transactional moments are barely noticed. Texting, e-mailing, conference calling, work-home, clients-family, consume us. We don’t pay much attention to anything. Life is busy, busy, busy.
But considering we interact with service staff all the time, at the check out, at coffee shops, in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, call centres – pretty much throughout the day – how these people treat us can be the deciding factor as to whether our day is good or bad.
Do we want customer service staff to deliver a one-size fits all approach to customer service like the Americans, or to graduate the intensity, and the type of customer service to the individual? That takes perception, judgement and sophistication.
Maybe the super-duper, happy, in-your-face customer service is the only way to be noticed in modern society.
Is there’s a lesson here?
Yes, there is. Aesop told us centuries ago, it’s easier for the sun to get a man to take his coat off, than for the wind to do it.
Give me sunshine every time.