Customer Service in Masks

Customer Service in Masks

Overcoming another COVID-19 business challenge. With masks mandatory in 33 states, hidden smiles and muffled voices make face-to-face (mask-to-mask?) customer service more challenging than ever before. Add to those basic communication issues the “battle between the masked and the masked-nots” and customer service becomes yet another practice demanding a “new normal.”

With masks mandatory in 33 states, hidden smiles and muffled voices make face-to-face (mask-to-mask?) customer service more challenging than ever before. Add to those basic communication issues the “battle between the masked and the masked-nots” and customer service becomes yet another practice demanding a “new normal.”

“The face mask, the social distancing, the hand hygiene, staying smart about gatherings and staying out of crowded bars and crowded restaurants. If we did those five things, we’ve done modeling data, we get the same bang for the buck as if we just shut the entire economy down.” -Robert Redfield, CDC Director

The greeting. The most basic element of face-to-face customer service is a clear welcome. We have always emphasized a smile, possibly accompanied by a verbal greeting. Now, the verbal greeting is even more important. Some organizations give staff a script to follow (“Welcome to Moe’s!”). When I work with small groups, I have each person create their own appropriate greeting. Those greetings will feel more authentic to both the worker and the customer.

The smile. With masks in place, a quick show of teeth won’t be seen. Even without masks, that sort of perfunctory smile doesn’t really convey the welcome we want to offer. Practice smiling with your eyes — what psychologists call a “Duchenne smile” — so that customers see that you really are happy to see them.

Tone of voice: Phone reps are trained to smile when on the phone with customers because that smile carries over into their tone of voice. Smiling helps the mood on both sides of the desk. Life is pretty stressful for everyone right now. If we can add a bit of a sunshine to our own and others’ lives, isn’t that important work to do?

masks employee-training customer-experience customer-service covid19 amazon web services

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