Do You or Any of Your Staff Suffer From ‘Bad Service Face’?


Do You or Any of Your Staff Suffer From ‘Bad Service Face’?

I recently went shopping for a new bedspread. I was in a really good mood, I’d had a great night’s sleep, the weather was wonderful, parking was easy, and even the birds seemed to be singing my favourite tunes. It was one of the days where everything just seemed to be in my favour.

And then it happened. As I entered a homewares store I could feel the atmosphere change almost immediately. Something was not right. I looked around and there it was; BSF (Bad Service Face).

The customer service person was staring into space with a look of thunder. I don’t know what had happened for her face to be so dark, stormy and unwelcoming but I was in such a good mood that I thought, maybe she needs me? Yes, that’s it! I was drawn into this shop to help her. So I gave her my biggest and cheeriest “Hi, how are you?” and her verbal response was…nothing. I think the corners of her mouth turned up slightly and she did make eye contact but it was so cold I looked away.

These types of customer service people intrigue me. Their job is to be friendly, welcoming and helpful to customers’ and if need be, to mask their own negative thoughts and feelings. I had to find out more so I hung around and played detective. I wandered through the store, listened to her engage with other customers, watched her go about her duties and interact with co-workers. All of her verbal interactions were monotone and her body language was negative and bordering on aggressive.

And then it happened. The phone rang and I heard her say “I’m hanging on by a thread. I just want to go home and be there for him”.

I purchased my bedspread, gave her a less “cheery” and more grateful smile and left. In this instance, Bad Service Face was possibly the result of a serious private life situation. I’m sure that some customers would understand BSF if they knew the reason behind it, but therein lies the problem.

Customers won’t know why and many won’t care if a customer service provider is having a bad day. Customers expect excellent service and for the employees to have the skills to provide it all day every day, regardless of what is happening in their private life.

You probably expect this too but expecting it does not make it happen.

Here are 3 Steps to help remove Bad Service Face from your workplace:

1. Encourage self-awareness

Part of being a great service provider is understanding and developing a level of self-awareness.  Encourage staff to assess their state of mind before they commence their shift/day. Some staff will find it easy to shake off negativity but for those employees who are feeling anything less than positive, friendly and helpful – move them on to Step 2.

2. Confirm you value effort

Encourage staff to admit when they are feeing negative and confirm that you value the extra effort they are making. This allows you to identify staff with higher level support needs but also reduces the chance of staff feeling taken for granted. Staff who have to “fake” a great service attitude for a long period of time, may wonder if you notice and eventually stop bothering.

3. Provide regular soft skill training

Soft skills are our people skills and that’s what customers assess to determine if the business provides excellent service. You don’t have to pay for soft skills training;

  • Show your staff how to provide great service – lead by example
  • Have posters or visual aids to remind staff the value of a smile, eye contact and a friendly tone of voice.
  • Watch your staff in action and give them positive feedback on specific customer interactions that meet your service standards.
  • Show videos (YouTube) to refresh their service skills and attitudes

The more you encourage staff to self-assess and self-manage their customer service behaviours, the less you will have to deal with customer complaints. It will also reduce the chance of customers wandering around your store acting like a detective.

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