At the risk of dating myself –or sounding “scroogish”–can we take a minute to talk about customer service this holiday season? Or anytime of year for that matter. I’m not sure why this topic popped up in my head, other than maybe a few recent encounters with store clerks that left me shaking my head—again! I just believe, that as we head into another hurried holiday season, we all need a reminder to relax and well, smile at each other from time to time. I’m not sure if that’s part of the employee training skills taught when a person is hired to work with the public, but it should be (if those lessons haven’t been picked up on at home). Beyond the fact that it would be nice to be somewhat promptly greeted when you walk up to make a purchase—it would be even better if  said employee would look up and smile. Do you ever feel like you’re bothering the person on the other side of the counter? I mean, I’m usually very happy to be making my purchase (unless it’s another round of groceries…but still, it’s food for my family, so that’s a happy thing,right?). Unfortunately, there are times when my mood is squelched by the demeanor of the person helping me.

     This is NOT ALWAYS the case! I know full well, there are many people who serve with a smile every day. I know some personally and encounter others often.

    I’m not professing to be in a holly jolly mood every single time I wait in a long line this time of year. But I DO accept that if I CHOOSE to shop during a busy time, service will likely be slower than usual. I try not to multiply the effect by snapping back at the already wearied worker. It’s a two way street folks,  and this road can get pretty rocky during the holidays. If you’re not one to put up with the crazed holiday rush, then why on earth did you venture out during peak hours to begin with? Online shopping anyone?? If you’re not a people person, why did you choose retail? I know, I know…it probably wasn’t your first choice. It’d be a wonderful world if we could all be pleasant to each other all the time. If we could give grace when it’s needed most. I realize that’s not going to happen. But if you’re getting PAID to provide customer service during the “most wonderful time of the year,” then all I’m asking is for you to step up and make me want to come back. I’ll do the same for you, I promise.

     I may or may not have gently encouraged my oldest daughter to apply to be a server at a local retirement community. My reasons were somewhat selfish in one regard. I knew if she could learn to happily serve her elders, she would be able to relate to any aged costumer in future situations. Elderly people can be, shall we say, set in their ways–and somewhat demanding. They’ve kind of earned that right. Not to be rude necessarily, but to expect good service. They’ve probably seen their fair share of bad. Beyond the ever valuable skill of relating to older people, I knew if my daughter could serve her residents with a smile and kind exchange, she’d be good to go. It seems to be working. She comes home smiling, and always with stories to share. I think that means her “customers” were left with a smile too.

     Recently I learned that someone I just met, was the same employee who helped my family at a local toy store nearly a year ago. I’ll spare you the details of how I put it together, but once I made the connection, it was clear! I vividly remembered him helping us look for a specific toy. He was genuinely pleasant and so helpful. As we left the store, I talked to my girls about his great customer service. I told them it was obvious he loved his job and helping others, and weren’t we lucky to be on the receiving end of it! What a small, beautiful world it can be!

     While you’re busy making memories this holiday season, make a point to serve or shop with a smile. Besides the happy tidings that will fill your soul, you’ll be glad you set an example for your children and others around you!

Amy Sharpe

Amy Sharpe is a former television news anchor from Kansas who migrated north with her family 8 years ago, when her husband was named Voice of the Huskers! (good thing she LOVES Red!) Since arriving in Lincoln, and adding a third daughter to the family, she now works at St. Mark's church as the Director of Event Management and Video Specialist. She also enjoys the flexibility of freelance on-air and voice work. When she's not busy toting her girls back and forth, from soccer games to dance to theatre rehearsals, she finds happiness in sharing the stage with them and watching local productions. And yes, there's always time to sport their RED and support the Huskers!! With each passing year, she's realizing more and more, that she really is living the "Good Life" here in Nebraska.