The Role of ‘Smile’ in Customer Service

Rainy monday morning, it‘s still dark outside. You yawn so hard that you cause a massive yawn chain reaction in your office. Coffee machine is broken. Yeah, not the best start of the new week. But you have your responsibilities, clients are demanding your help. And on top of that they are in the same mood as you are. Houston, we’ve got a problem!

How to deal with it? There is a secret weapon you can use when facing upset client and it can even help you to get in the right mood, too. Smile.

Now, turn the tables and imagine, you are a customer. You are upset, because you have to work and one of your tools isn’t working. The boss yells, everyone in the office is in a bad mood. You have to solve this, so you write a ticket to customer support. Message isn’t exactly polite, so there is a possibility you will extend the circle of anger with another person.

But suddenly, something happens. Customer service person smiles, politely replies and is about to solve your problem. How can you be impolite to this person?

I admit, this sounds like an ideal situation. Sometimes, it takes more than one polite reply to turn your grumpy customer into a nice chat-buddy, sometimes it won’t even work. Principle is still the same, though.

Why is smile so important? This study shows, that you can gain trust of the person you are dealing with, when you smile. Creators of the study found, that willingness of participants trust towards another person increased 10%, if the person smiled. Of course, it was personal, eye-to-eye contact, but why not apply it in email/ticket communication?

By the way, do you know how smiley was „invented“? First smiley in the e-communication was used by Scott E. Fahlman, member of Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. It was posted on a digital message board to diversify serious messages from jokes.

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman

From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

: – )

Read it sideways.  Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends.  For this, use : – (

The main reason was, that the members got confused by message about fire and started to spread panic.

Even if smilies were meant for pointing out jokes at first, their role has changed with the spreading of internet conncetion. Consider smile as a moodmaker. Similiar to a good story that will bring up some memories and feelings  when you think about it, smile can create a mood that will your customer recognizes. This mood will relate to the person, that gave him support. If another problem occurs, customer will contact you without hesitation and with better attitude.

What do you think of smilies in customer service? Let us know in the comment section.

Smile on your customer

Some customers don’t smile. But even without smiling, they are more than willing to provide feedback. How to get yours?


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