Brian works at a cellular phone store in a shopping center. He enjoys chatting with his customers when they come in, and even relishes the challenge of turning an angry customer into a happy customer. Normally he will use an ice breaker to begin building a rapport with a customer. He smiles, and usually a customer will smile right back at him. One morning, a customer in a black suit comes in and says his phone stopped working, and he needs to get a loaner phone as soon as possible. He tells Brian that he called Brian’s company’s technical support number and they told him they would have a loaner phone available for him at this store. He introduces himself as Hermann.
As Brian is looking up Hermann’s information, he notices that Hermann is fidgeting a lot. He doesn’t look at Brian, but instead keeps gazing at his watch. Normally Brian would try to start a conversation with Hermann while he pulls up the account information, but when he observes Hermann’s body language, Brian decides this would not be the best approach. When he finally does get the account information up, Brian reads in the notes that Hermann’s phone broke down right at the same time his mother died. Brian is really glad he paid attention to Hermann’s body language and didn’t try to break the ice with a joke. Instead, Brian hurries the interaction along and gets Hermann a replacement phone as quickly as possible. When Hermann asks what he owes them, Brian replies, “It’s no charge. I’m really sorry for your loss.” Hermann shakes Brian’s hand firmly and thanks him while making eye contact. Brian can tell that Hermann is near tears. He can also tell that his own sensitivity in this interaction has made a customer for life.