Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Can't We Smile and Be Courteous? --- By Tony Pellegrino

The other day I went into a store to buy an item. As I approached the clerk to ask where it was on the shelf, she turned to me with a scowl on her face which said, “Can’t you see I am busy?” I was so furious I almost screamed, but I instead walked out of the store without purchasing what I had come in to get. Later that day I had to go to one of the government agency offices to inquire about a problem. Three of the employees were huddled over a computer chatting and laughing. I waited a moment and then softly said, “Hi, can someone help me?” They turned to look at me as though to say, “Can’t you see we are busy? Wait until we finish.” Wow! I thought. Excuse me for breathing.

Aren’t you fed up with these attitudes towards us both in the government and in the private sector when we approach for assistance. Have you ever experienced the same rudeness? I don’t know how you feel about it, but it is time to consider changing those insulting attitudes. When a clerk stares at me or ignores me, a sudden flash of red rushes to my head and I want to scream. But I hold my temper. Aren’t these people employed to serve customers and make them feel good while they purchase an item or a service?

Patiently I stand and wait for some response. Finally the person turns and with a blank look gives out a grunt. I hang my head and repeat my request. This is the average courtesy we receive daily. Why is it? Why are so many employees so rude and indifferent?

To me the only explanation is that the rude or disinterested employee is a very unhappy person. He/she has little motivation for what he/she is doing. But, you know, I really shouldn’t blame him completely. I really blame the supervisor or manager because that is the attitude and lack of training conveyed to the employee from above. It is unfortunate that these so-called managers must be reminded why they are in positions of responsibility.

Especially when competition is very keen, I would imagine that every tool would be used to treat customers with respect and win their loyalty so that they keep returning. In my own companies, whenever any employee shows disrespect, he gets a single warning. Should he keep repeating his attitude, he is out the back door. It is much easier to hire another employee than to find another customer. Yet on the other hand when I receive a compliment, I immediately tell the employee about it.

Many times I have told clerks who display rudeness or poor service to find another job. By doing so they will not hurt the owner’s business, scare away customers and they will become happy doing what they like instead of suffering and making everybody’s life miserable.

More restaurants and small shops shut down because of lack of customer service than any other reason. To these incompetent managers I heartily recommend that they read several books on customer service. One of the best is Dale Carnegie’s classic book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

I have jotted some TIPS for the next rude and inconsiderate employee you meet. Copy these suggestions on small cards and hand them out to each rude employee you encounter.


1. Act interested in me. I need your assistance.

2. SMILE! SMILE! SMILE! It will not cost you a cent but it will earn you my good feelings and my business.

3. Be a good listener. I want to explain my problem and I hope you can solve it.

4. I am here to spend money in your shop, help me to do so.

5. Make me feel important and do it sincerely. We all need that feeling.

6. Show respect for my opinion. Don’t say bluntly: “You’re wrong.” Do
it nicely.

7. Begin in a friendly way. It opens up a dialogue.

8. If you are wrong admit it quickly and emphatically.

9. Try honestly to see things from my needs and ideas.

10. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest
and most important sound in any language. Isn’t yours? Please
use my name when you address me.

11. If you are not enjoying this job, please find another one in which
you will be happier.

12. Practice the above and I will be loyal customer and will bring
others with me to your shop.


1) 1% die. 2) 3% move away. 3) 5% have new interests or new

friends. 4) 9% change for competitive reasons. 5) 14% become

dissatisfied. But… 6) 68% never come back because of rude or

bad service!

Courteous-friendly service is what we deserve! Give it to us!


“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us—we are dependent on him. He is not an outsider in our business—he is a part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him—he is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so. If we don’t take our customers, somebody else will.” (Quoted from Henry Ford)

Let’s smile and be courteous wherever we work—in the private or public sector. Study these TIPS (To insure polite service) and practice them. Remember we are all customers and servers. Wouldn’t you appreciate being treated in a polite and prompt manner?

I just have to get these feelings off my chest. But it’s time clerks learn to treat clients with respect. However let’s enjoy a few light moments before we plunge into our daily activities.

These should make you smile:

1. The parts of speech are lungs and air.

2. The inhabitants of Moscow are called Mosquitoes.

3. The four seasons are salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar.

4. The spinal column is a long bunch of bones. The head sits on the
top and you sit on the bottom.

5. The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 opossums.

6. The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

7. You can’t kill yourself by holding your breath.

8. Banging your head on the wall uses 150 calories an hour.

9. Americans on the average eat 18 acres of pizza daily.

10. A census taker is a man who goes from house to house
increasing the population.

Despite all the problems and uncertainties in our daily life, let’s recall the delightful song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “Whistle while you work.” It will make your troubles go away. Smile and let’s be courteous.

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