Making the Move from Nice to Kind

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In the past 12 months, I’ve experienced a substantial increase in requests for customized reception and customer service training. And I say “yes” as quickly and as often as possible.

My interest in phone communication was sparked early in childhood, by the major role the phone played in my small-town-Northern-Ontario life. But my passion began when, as a cashless university student, I landed a part-time job answering phones at a Toronto real estate office and was introduced to the power of great customer service.

The “secret sauce” of customer service excellence isn’t always easy to capture but an email I received recently has provided new insights.

What is the secret to excellent customer service? And what are my new insights?

Earlier this week long-time friend and colleague, Janet Bardon, emailed me this article from Lifehacker, which gave me a “lightbulb” moment. Excellent customer communication involves being both nice and kind.


The word nice originated in 12th century Old French with a meaning vastly different from how we use it today. It indicated someone who was foolish, ignorant, frivolous or careless. It wasn’t until the 16th century that it evolved to mean agreeable, delightful.

Being nice to customers is essential. And being nice includes specific skills, such as:

  • using a warm, welcoming tone of voice
  • providing our name and taking the time to hear and correctly pronounce their name
  • giving them our undivided attention
  • answering questions effectively and fulfilling their requests efficiently


But being kind?

By the late 14th century the word kind meant noble deeds and courtesy but it evolved from the 12th century Old English “kyndnes”,  meaning “an increase”.

In other words, being kind is being nice on steroids! Kindness is the experience that always inspires trust and loyalty. It melts defensiveness and cynicism. It is the foundation of relationships that remain solid, even in challenging circumstances.

In our pandemic-burdened world, our customers need us to be kind.

Being kind includes, but is not limited to:

  • listening intently
  • offering genuine compassion
  • being patient
  • finding and offering that extra word or action that fully expresses our desire to serve

How have you, as a customer, experienced kindness lately? How was this different from being treated nicely? And how can you incorporate more kindness into your customer communication? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


2 thoughts on “Making the Move from Nice to Kind”

  1. I’ve been considering this recently too! Both important for customer service. As I once told a student employee at the University clothing store – if what you can offer that customer that day is the kindness of a tissue for their child’s runny nose, you’ve done a great service.
    Great post, MJ!

    • Wow Lisa, I love this story and the image it creates in my mind. That is an excellent example of going beyond nice to be kind. No wonder I always enjoyed shopping and buying from you! Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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What's The Phone Lady doing?

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