Customer Service Communication Mastery

Happy Face Poster Over Face

It was one of those travel days that didn’t start out particularly well. Facing very little sleep, and three flights to get to the middle of the country for my next speaking engagement, I left my house before the sun came up. When I finally got to the airport, I was running late and desperately trying to find a parking spot… that wasn’t in the adjacent town.

When I approached the security checkpoint inside the terminal I realized that my Delta app was not working on my phone. With a deep sigh, I dragged my suitcase back downstairs to the check-in counter to get a paper ticket. After much ado, I stumbled my way back upstairs, got through security (after a “random” TSA check) and made my way to my gate. I boarded the plane and fell into my seat, clinging to my Starbucks coffee for dear life.

No sooner did I settle in than a flight attendant approached me sporting a huge smile. I was immediately intrigued. Her smile was…dare I say it….contagious.

Here’s exactly how the conversation went:


Flight attendant: “Hi! Good wonderful morning! Welcome aboard!”
Me: “Oh my gosh. Thank you for that amazing smile!”
Flight attendant: “Thank you for your great attitude!”
Me: “Um no. You get the credit on this one. You inspired this great attitude. I’ll bet you have LOTS of customers with great attitudes “
Flight Attendant: (paused and thought for a moment) “Now that you mention it, I do!”
Me: “I rest my case.”

Here’s the moral of the story. I was NOT a happy customer. I was, in fact, the kind of customer that makes you cringe when you see them heading toward you. And in seconds, she converted me from someone who could have been quite challenging to deal with into one who was actually happy and ended up complimenting her.

She brought a huge, authentic, warm and welcoming smile into our first interaction. Her warmth, that wonderful smile and the happy tone of her voice, changed me. For the better.

And who benefited from this encounter?

I did. Clearly.

But who else benefited from this? She did. She went from having to deal with a difficult, cantankerous, grumpy customer to being able to enjoy a rather happy, pleasant one. This made her job a lot easier

And finally, the company, Delta Airlines, benefited from the way she interacted with me. It was one more check in the column labeled “Why I will always be loyal to Delta and scream their praises to anyone who will listen.”

And here’s what’s really cool. It cost her NOTHING to do this. Zip. Zero. Nada. She apparently had just decided that, no matter what, she was going to greet everyone who came on board as if she was really, really, really happy to see them. And it worked.

Why not try this? Why not take responsibility for influencing your customers’ moods – for the better. Create the win-win-win for everyone involved.

Tiny investment. HUGE payoff.

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A Smiling Linda Larsen

About Author Linda Larsen, CSP, CPAE

I became a professional actress and – for actual money – I got to occasionally escape to magical worlds created by everyone from Shakespeare to Moliere; from Shaw to Simon. I became a member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild and, as such, joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of mostly unemployed starving actors. But I didn’t care! I was an actor!!! I had an actual Master of Fine Arts Degree that PROVED, by gosh, that I was supposed to know what I was doing.

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