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This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Lisa Iadicicco writes about how important it is to smile when talking with customers over the phone. I agree. A smile can go a long way and is contagious. – Shep Hyken

Do you hear what I hear…Is that a Smile I hear through the phone?

customer service with a smile Much of the time, being in a Customer Service role either feels like you are in line for a good tongue lashing or holding the hand of a person crossing a busy street. Whichever scenario you find yourself in, your job is to Serve and Protect… To Serve the person on the phone or online and to Protect the reputation of the company you represent. It’s a fact that people can hear a smile through the telephone. When your smile can be heard, chances are you convey the right image. The one your customers expect and appreciate…the one that helps you establish a rapport. Psychologists have written countless articles about the benefits of smiling. Smiling makes us feel good, which also increases our attentional flexibility and our ability to think more holistically. This idea was tested by Johnson et al. (2010), and the results showed that participants who smiled performed better on attentional tasks which required seeing the whole forest rather than just the trees. In other words, the big picture! According to an article on Discovery, human beings can differentiate vocal intonation not only between a smile and a non-smile but among different types of smiles. “Smiling affects how we speak, to the point that listeners can actually identify the type of smile based on sound alone…” Even when you end up speaking to someone from Bangalore and you are at your wits end with the language barrier, a smile resonating halfway across the world can be heard and can help diffuse a negative situation. My mom would always say to me, “Put that Smile on” before I walked into my office…it would get me into a more positive frame of mind.  The same goes for the telephone.  SMILE prior to picking up the phone as you want to be in “pleasant mode” before you know who is calling, rather than afterward. Smiling after the call has commenced changes the tone of your voice. Your tone of voice is a key factor, 85% of the message when dealing with disenchanted customers/clients.  Smiling adds warmth to your voice and is a critical factor in the success of a customer service representative’s call.

Other things to remember as you are smiling into the phone…

Several companies have adopted the idea of putting mirrors on each workstation for employees to see how smiling makes a difference.  What would your mirror say? So, next time you have an interaction over the phone, remember, “Put that SMILE on”! Tell us about your experiences about a pleasant customer service representative and what it meant to you. Lisa Iadicicco is Co-Founder of Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts Sources: Psychology Today, Discovery,, my Mom For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors, go to

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