9 things customers can do to get better customer service this Christmas

Photo: Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Ever experience terrible service from a grumpy salesperson? It sucks, right?

And it’s contagious, dragging consumers down with them.

It happens a lot and let’s face it, some testy moments between the customer and shop attendant are inevitable during the Christmas chaos.

Nicky McMillan. Photo: Supplied

But is it really the entire fault of the person serving us? Could we, as customers, help make the experience better?

Often people are oblivious to what signals they’re sending to others, verbally and non-verbally. Given there’s almost a million non-verbal cues alone, it’s no surprise our behaviour can be misinterpreted.

Here are 9 ways to hack customer service so that you and the attendant have a positive, even memorable, experience.


– Lose the phone and respectfully greet each other. On a call? Wind it up first before expecting service….or not getting it. Or risk losing a customer by keeping them waiting.

Smile and make eye contact

– Two easy ways to spark connection thanks to the bonding hormone, oxytocin. There’s also something called the Facial Feedback Hypothesis – put simply, not only do emotions influence our facial expressions; our expressions can affect our mood.

Use their name

– Research shows hearing our name triggers greater brain activation including how we socialise. Check their name tag if wearing one. Or simply ask them, especially the regulars. Same for customers who frequent a place; connect with those serving you.

Positive opener

– Ditch the conversation script. Ask how their day’s been, what’s been the highlight or if they’ve got anything exciting on. While potentially being caught off-guard, it’ll prompt the attendant, or customer to start talking. Research cited by the Science of People shows our brain focuses on ‘hits’ – if we say the word “exciting”, it looks for hits of excitement and we subsequently feel that way. Not sure what to ask? Try some conversation sparkers.

Use your words wisely

– We suspected it and studies confirm it – the words we use influence the behaviour of others towards us. Want great service? Or got a rude customer? Try positive language.


– Sure friendship’s not part of the transaction but what’s the harm in caring and connecting?


– One of the most sincere forms of respect while ensuring clear communication! And getting the product or service you’re after.


– Compliment the attendant on their expertise; they’ll be inclined to perform even better and live up to expectations, benefitting you and them.

Lastly, a tip for employers

Do your staff share your vision, your values, your mission? Do they feel their job has meaning other than a pay cheque? The answer is likely to be found in their motivation and treatment of customers.

Nicky McMillan is the founder of What’s My Style Image Coaching in the NSW Riverina, with a curiosity in how people connect. Confessing to moments of social awkwardness, she’s on a mission to share tips on overcoming this and being the best one can be.