smile (and mean it)!

only a while ago i was talking about how we’re sometimes reminded to be grateful for what we have. now i’m going to talk about almost the opposite thing: sometimes bad things that happen to you make you look inside yourself and think, i shall never do that to others. from the title of this post, i’m sure you can pretty much guess the theme.

i’ve been working in customer service business for 6 years now (and in foreign language at that!), and way before that i’ve also worked in client service department for 2 years. though they’re not completely the same, but the main idea is: keep them happy! whether it be customers or clients, they’re the ones who are going to end up paying your bills, so yes, it’s important.

through all my 8 years of combined experience, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve been treated like a servant, or probably even a doormat. yet through it all, i always preserve my smile and attitude towards them. in the end, it’s always them who realized that they treated me with disrespect, and ended up thanking me for putting up with their rude behaviour & also apologized for it. i’m a firm believer of fighting fire with water, so when someone is on fire (angry, panicking, etc.) while i serve them, i would just stay calm and try to transmit my positive energy to them instead of fighting back. it’s been working like a charm so far. 🙂 there are a few times when it was so bad that even my smile did not help, of course, but i still did not let it out on them (the customer/client). i can still proudly say that i get positive feedback from my customers almost daily, which is a lot more than any negative ones (come to think of it, i’ve only ever gotten 1 negative feedback which wasn’t even my fault. ha!).

so when the position is flipped around and i am in the customer’s shoes, naturally i pay attention to the service i am getting. i’m not that hard to please though (because, hello, i know what it’s like to serve customers myself!), and i can tell you that i very rarely complain about a bad service. however, this time i just have to.

some time ago, i had dinner with my husband at a restaurant we very often go to. we’ve been going to this restaurant for the past few years, but right now to our delight, they are having a special offer for a certain cardholder where we could buy 2 set menus for the price of one. this special offer is the kind that you can keep using for the rest of the year as many times as you’d like. since we already know the quality of the food and how nice the atmosphere there is, we made use of the special offer. everything went on as usual, the waiter showed us to our place with a big welcoming smile, until the time when i showed him my card and intention to use the special offer. all of a sudden, the same waiter–who had served us many times before–changed his attitude and started by snapping close the menu book right in front of our noses. his smile was gone and he walked right away from our table without saying anything else.

okay, maybe that was just an accident, i thought, not really wanting to believe that someone in the customer service business could just do that to their customers. but when he continued by throwing our plates of appetizers to the table without saying anything, it was clear to us both that he was doing it on purpose. to make matters worse, beside us sat other guests, who bought normal-priced food, and the same waiter also served them but with wide smiles and politeness that immediately disappeared when he came to our table to bring/take away our dishes. the difference was like night and day, and i was so mortified with the humiliation i’ve never experienced before.

this continued all the way to the end of the dessert time when he didn’t even bother to ask if there was still anything else he could do for us. hell, he didn’t even come anywhere near our table, so we had to get up ourselves to their cashier and ask for the bill. needless to say, that was the last time we are ever going to that place.

our decision wasn’t based only on the fact that we got such a poor service that night. it’s more because of the fact that all those smiles we have gotten from him, the very same waiter, in our previous visits for the past few years suddenly felt stale, so fake & disgusting i wanted to cringe. because now we saw his true nature, and all those “good service” we got previously were nothing but lies.

you may say that people who work in this field are good actors. no matter how bad our days have been, we still need to smile to our customers. but i actually believe that customers can and will see through our fake smiles. if not right at that moment, then one day, you will get caught. having lived in Finland for some years now, i can honestly tell you how rare it is to get a smile from a salesperson here. but you know what? they treat you in a matter-of-fact way, politely, and fairly. these, to me, go a looooooong way better than with a fake smile. while i have nothing against people from different cultural backgrounds, just to be clear, i must state here that the restaurant (and the waiter) in my experience above is NOT Finnish (the waiter spoke only a small amount of Finnish language).

after this experience, i was relieved to find that i have always smiled from my heart. even if somebody only purchase some 50 cents worth of something from my workplace, my smile does not falter, i do not treat them rudely, and what do i get in the end? a smile from them, and a “thank you for the friendly service” note the next day. THAT is the reason why i’ve stayed in this business.

the point i’m trying to make is: if you’re going to smile to someone, do it from your heart. be it to your customer, your friend, your enemy, your family, or whatever the situation is, mean what you show. it may seem like a small thing, but really, you’ll just end up causing more hurt if you fake it.

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6 thoughts on “smile (and mean it)!

    • yes, got the announcement that it’s now posted. ah, actually i don’t care that much if the restaurant owner reads it, as long as the other customers/possible customers are warned about it. because, as i told you, we weren’t the only ones treated that way upon using that card.

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