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Conveying authentic enthusiasm leaves an impression

Conveying authentic enthusiasm that adds a bit of a spark to an otherwise predictable transaction is an effective way for employees to express their uniqueness while making it memorable for customers.

Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says that, “Any job is twenty percent knowledge and eighty percent interpersonal skills.” Consider how one’s authentic enthusiasm for serving customers influences his or her interpersonal skills.

Customers can easily detect whether or not someone is genuinely interested in serving them. The well-known UCLA communications study suggests that 55 percent of one’s trust and believability comes from the visual effect—her body language. According to the study, 38 percent comes from the vocal effect (i.e., vocal tone, inflection), and only 7 percent is attributed to the verbal effect (i.e., chosen words of speech).

The best illustration of conveying authentic enthusiasm that I’ve come across lately comes from the book, Flipping The Switch by John G. Miller, an expert in Personal Accountability and also author of the best selling book, QBQ! As you read the story below, ask yourself, “How does Larry’s authentic enthusiasm for serving customers influence his interpersonal skills—the way he interacts and communicates with travelers?”

It was 10 P.M. in Albuquerque, and my flight home to Tucson through Phoenix had been delayed due to bad weather. My new estimated time of arrival was 2 A.M. But things quickly improved, thanks to an airport security officer named Larry. He will forever raise the bar for TSA officers at airports everywhere!

Larry was directing passengers to several lines for baggage X-ray and security checks. What was totally surprising, however, was his enthusiastic approach to the job. Instead of mechanically pointing travelers to line number one or two, Larry proudly introduced himself to thirty or so exhausted passengers by shouting, “Good evening, everyone, my name is Larry. I’ll be helping you through security tonight. And just so you all know, it’s my birthday!”

Well, I couldn’t contain myself after seeing and feeling his enthusiasm, so I shouted back, “Happy birthday, Larry!” He giggled and said, “It’s not really my birthday, I just love the attention!” Then, like a maître d’ in a fine restaurant, he asked the folks next in line, “How many in your party?”

They replied, “Three.”

He responded, “Smoking or non?”

Meanwhile, a new line had been opened. As he waved several people into it, he quoted the movie Finding Nemo by chanting, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!” Everyone cracked up! By now, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how Larry’s attitude buoyed so many weary travelers. Then to the group behind me he declared, “Hi, everyone! I’m Larry!” And like a group attending a self-help seminar, the crowd enthusiastically replied in unison, “Hi, Larry!” As they moved toward the scanners, he joyfully delivered their instructions. I continued on to my gate as Larry’s cheerful voice faded into the background.

And the best part was watching the other TSA officers working nearby. They were smiling from a distance, wanting to have as much fun as Larry—but not knowing how. What a shame that the only thing holding any of us back from being more like Larry is…ourselves!

Larry is genuinely filled with enthusiasm and authentically conveys this enthusiasm to travelers in a way that is unique, perhaps even singular, and matches his style and personality. Authentic enthusiasm may be animated or may be reserved, but it will be real.

How do you express your enthusiasm for serving others?

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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