Recently I experienced some medical issues that required a brief stay in the hospital. As I write this, I am feeling much better and once again I’m enjoying the comfort of my home. But the worst part about the ordeal was neither feeling sick nor being poked every couple of hours to monitor my health. No, the worst part was how I was treated by some of the hospital’s staff.

Because I am a hairdresser and an Eufora international educator, exceptional customer service is always my goal. I strive to serve every guest or business owner a great experience on a silver platter. By my own admission, this makes me loathe a bad experience at any establishment. But, usually, I regard a bad experience as a fluke, as long as the person providing the service simply does one thing: Be kind.

The admirable author and poet Maya Angelou has been quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What a profound but true insight on the human condition.

I thought of this quote a few times since my hospital stay and realized the members of the medical staff who were rude and uncaring just don’t get it. Being kind is free. It costs nothing to be nice, especially if the person is already going through a difficult situation. You just might brighten their day, and yours, by simple acts of kindness. The reason I believe this is because the American public seems to have gotten very used to poor customer service in all areas of their day-to-day lives. But the good news is, because of this sad belief, we all have the grand opportunity to exceed their expectations. Why? Because the bar is pretty darn low.

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.(Source: Customers 2020 Report) So why does it seem like we are faced with unfriendly people in business, at social gatherings, and especially in traffic? I believe we have all become too busy and too unconcerned about our fellow man. This needs to change, and for more reasons than the obvious one that being kind feels good to your soul.

When we are nice to be others, we naturally feel better about ourselves and this feeling assists us in maintaining good health. A warm smile can be just what the doctor ordered for that new neighbor of yours who is a little shy. At the same time, being nice relaxes your body and reduces stress. A funny joke can give your repeat customer Mr. Williams the laugh he needed to get his day started. At the same time, your laughter will release endorphins that lift your mood as well as soothe pain in the body. That’s why I say being respectful and kind are behaviors we need to adopt once again as a nation.

What’s more, if you are in a service-oriented industry being respectful and kind can increase customer loyalty, according to Forbes Magazine. (They seem to know a little bit about good business, wouldn’t you agree? (Smile) If you just work on being nicer to everyone, you just might make someone’s day, or maybe repair a damaged relationship. You may even strengthen current bonds with friends.

My challenge to you is simple, good for your health, and free. Try being nice.

As Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”