No, You Have a Nice Day, Buddy.

November 27, 2007 at 9:44 pm | Posted in Customer Service, small business | 4 Comments

The other day, a human being pretending to be “working” in a customer service capacity told me to have a nice day. Well, actually, it was more of a grunt. And because he didn’t bother looking at me when he grunted it, and was in fact walking away as he finished the grunt, I’m kind of connecting the dots here. But I am pretty confident that on some guttural, primordial level, I was told by this individual to have a nice day.

So. Do you think he really meant it?!

Let’s understand each other. It’s not that I really need customer service people to tell me to “have a nice day.” I’m as aware as anyone else that this is a cliché and, just like the “how are you,” is not really full of deep, rich, interpersonal meaning anymore.


When even the basic *building blocks* of communication aren’t in place, I get irritated. And then I think: this company sucks.

Is that harsh? I don’t think so. This particular company actually has many layers of customer service; they even have a dedicated toll-free customer service line that, to my knowledge, is staffed by people and not voicemail. And this company also spends a great deal of money and time to promote its customer service systems and policies. I even think they have one of those c-level “Customer Experience Officer” positions.

Yet despite all of this, they can’t seem to “get it” at the most basic level. And if you can’t get it at the basic level, you can’t get it at any other level, since basic is basic.

Here’s what I’d like you to think about, please. As my little experience (hey, no height jokes!) illustrates, customer service really isn’t some giant “conceptual thing” that is about how many reps you have or how much money you spend on promoting customer service commitments.

It’s about the basics. It’s the little things. It’s about telling people to “have a nice day,” and actually meaning it; or at the very least, looking at them in the eye and smiling (or, at least not frowning).

It’s time for customer service to learn a very valuable lesson from quality assurance; notably, the Japanese concept of incremental quality improvements (“kaizen”). Don’t wait for some big booming voice from the sky to tell you that you’ve “achieved customer service” — and don’t be lulled into thinking that just because you talk about it, and have posters that promote it, and include it in your training, that it’s actually HAPPENING.

Build and integrate customer service in very small, ordinary ways.

Including when your reps tell people to “have a nice day.” If they can’t do something that simple, that ordinary, and that ACCESSIBLE, then all of the planning and training and Customer Experience Officers in the world aren’t going to do much.

Have a nice day 🙂



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  1. Well said Adrian – and it really scares me that this is a company that is serious enough about service that it has a “C” level exec. Perhaps we can give them the benefit of the doubt and say that the commitment at that level has not yet filtered down to the level where the customer lives.

    Oh so sad. Perhaps they should have invested some money in training instead of a big salary. We can only hope that the influence will sooner or later get to where it needs to.

    You were kind. You didn’t mention the name of the company. Other customers may not be so kind and have negative comments as well – and they may tell their friends were NOT to go to shop.

    A word on Kaizen in customer service – a few years ago I developed a program that IS a continuous improvement tool for customer service managers – because it’s an ongoing journey to keep the people in the service departmant happy and caring and conscious about the customer. And I have to tell you – sales were deeply disappointing (even though I had a board of customers help me develop it.) When I asked for and got feedback on why people – customer service managers and small business owners – weren’t buying it they told me they didn’t have the time to do the learning.

    That’s pretty sad too. The very people that need to be training and coaching and encouraging the people who touch the customers say they don’t have 20 – 30 minutes a week to learning and training others.

    What’s that thing you always say? “What if we train them and leave? – What if you don’t train them and they STAY?” I think you got your answer.

    Oh yeah – have a nice day.

  2. Agreed, if companies can’t even get employees to actually care, they don’t need to bother spending more money trying create a better customer experience.

    In a recent post I give some examples how a better customer environment could be created, and also warn of some pitfalls. The post is

  3. sorry the link didn’t make it:

  4. You might want to have a look at my most recent blog entry:

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