Skip to content

Beyond the Reboot #5: Basic Acting Skills

Everyone has bad days. Everyone enjoys the weekend a little too much or stays up all night sometimes. We all have bad days where the last thing we want to do is to go to work and help people with their problems. Providing great service means a little acting.

It doesn’t take much to put on a face of friendliness and concern when going to help your customers. If you’re in a bad mood, it can quickly rub off on the customer and they can feel like they’re inconveniencing you and they may become irritated or hostile. Remember, it is your job to help them and if you project negativity, they may respond in kind.

Stay positive and fake it if you don’t feel it. Just as you’re reading your customer’s emotions, they’ll be reading yours and if you’re upset or grumpy, it will not lead to a good experience.

If you don’t feel it, fake it. If you wear a smile on your face long enough, you’ll start to feel happier. Then your great service skills will shine through and you’ll start to feel better once you’ve helped your customer.

Recently, I went to go help an executive who was having a problem with Powerpoint. He had a new version of the application installed and was having some trouble finding a specific setting he needed.

When I arrived, he was already throwing F-bombs and very irritated. This particular person has no patience for computers and if they didn’t work as expected, it was nuclear war.

I knew this would take the best acting performance of my career to get out of this unscathed. I walked in with a huge smile on my face and summoned all my patience on this early, Monday morning and endured. I asked, “I hear you are having problems with Powerpoint, how can I help?” I endured the screaming and the yelling and the assault to my profession and myself.

I tried my best to help the customer with his problem but in the end, he was too angry to explain what he needed.. I could not get enough information out of him to understand what he was looking for. So he dismissed me and I left his office and returned to my own.

My first call was to my manager to explain what had just taken place. My second call was to my team lead to warn her of what had just happened. She was next in line to deal with him. My third call was to the wild. I took a walk around the campus to cool down so I would not bring the negativity of that exchange my other customer interactions.

Another important acting lesson is never making the customer feel stupid. In the past few weeks I have removed an SD Card from a slot-loading CD-ROM drive, plugged in a network cable to restore internet access, turned on a power strip to restore a non-working computer to life and plugged a USB cable in to repair a broken printer.

In each instance, the customers all apologized for having me come to see them for a very simple fix. In each case, I told them not to be sorry. I am here to fix problems big and small. They have jobs to do that don’t involve crawling around on the floor and checking cables. The customer doesn’t need to know how everything connects and works.

In talking with one of the scientists I support, she said to me. “I’m so glad you understand computers. Because I don’t at all.” To which I replied, “I’m so glad you’re trying to cure cancer. Because I have no clue how to do that.”

We all have our roles to play and it’s through support and help that we’re all able to get through our days a little better off than when we started. I take great pleasure in putting on a show for my customer so they don’t feel silly or stupid. I will act whatever part is required to calm or reassure my customers because when they’re happy, I’m happy.

Published inObservations