April 02, 2007

Smile at the ticket counter

The next time you need a ticket counter person to give you a break, give her a break up front.

Smile at her.

Think of her as the person who will get you on the flight, get you a better seat or get you back home in time for your daughter's recital. Don't think of her as the obstacle or the person at the airline responsible for your situtation.

I was talking to a travel industry executive in Oklahoma City last week and he confirmed this theory. Friendly travelers get better service than belligerent ones. The airline employees on the ground do not care that you are a frequent traveler. That is a commodity these days. No one behind the counter cares how important you are, they care about being treated with respect.

When I was writing The Likeability Factor, I discovered studies that suggested that a smiling and likeable patient gets more time with a busy doctor and is rescheduled quicker. One study on high school students in Southern California found that the number of times a girl smiled was more of a driver of her popularity than her physical attractiveness. A 2002 study on customer service found that if you are likeable and competent, you have a three fold increase in the likelihood of getting satisfactory service. Smiles are the key.

Try this out the next time you need help on the road. Take a deep breath, think a positive thought and smile at your new travel partner at the counter. She's likely to reciprocate by going the extra mile(s) for you. Once you find it works during travel, try it out on your family and friends when you get home.

Posted at 4:55 PM in Travel Tips  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)  |  TrackBack (0)

Comments

Commentor

That's very true. If you smile, you're likeable. If you're likeable, people will try harder to help you.

Another side of smiling in these situations is that a big, wholehearted smile will also relieve stress. When the situation stops feeling as stressful, it makes it even easier to reach a better outcome for both you and the person you are dealing with.

Great blog!

-Brian

Commentor

Very true, I was at the airport one time several flights filled up and the ticket lady was trying desperately to get people to give up there seats, with not much luck, people were tired and grumbling when she announced that my flight was full. I jumped up, ran over, smiled and said I would like to get bumped.

While standing there I made small talk about her job and how tough it can be. Anyway instead of the 100 dollars offered she gave me 200. Just because I smiled and asked about her day.

Commentor

Great post, Tim. Several years ago, my wife and I were building a new home. Most everyone in the sub-division had negative things to say about the superintendant. We decided that because he was getting grumped at all the time, we would take a different approach with him...we decided to be kind and understanding. The end result...he WANTED to got the extra mile for us. In fact, we got several "extras" in our new home without having to pay extra. He just wanted to be nice to the people who were being nice to him.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder. I need to be reminded to smile more. :)

Commentor

Tim - you are right - and you can even do this on customer service lines as well. They can't see you smile, but you should (helps you maintain the right attitude). You can adjust your tone and offer some encouragement to the person on the other end of the phone.

I especially like your point about not looking at in-person or phone customer service reps as an obstacle, but as a partner.

I travel a lot - and I don't wave my "status" in front of people and demand my "rights". I usually smile , make requests when I need to, and say thank you - it's amazing how far that goes!

Ann

Commentor

This is so true...I was in Vegas this past week and experienced this exact thing---with a hotel manager. I am not a mean person, but had been kept up all night by a faulty elevator and was not happy. I demanded a new room and compensation! She kept putting me off and saying that she couldn't do this and couldn't do that...well I changed strategy's and asked where she was from. Once I had established a bond, I got an upgraded room and $50 to spend on food...not all that I wanted but more than she was giving before the Attituded Adjustment!


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