On a recent trip back to St. Louis, I recognized the flight attendant from a previous flight. I recalled her as being very nice, but this day she was not. She did not greet me as I boarded the plane, and similarly ignored, or was even unkind to the other passengers as well. She nearly knocked me over as she was trying to get by. It was apparent that, for whatever reason, she was having a bad day. And even though, according to the airlines, flight attendants are there mainly for passengers' safety, I believe they are still expected to at least be polite to the passengers.
As she was standing near my seat, I tried to make some friendly conversation. She was actually rude when she spoke to me, so I asked, "Are you having a bad day?" She did not hold back as she complained about the difficulties of the day, including a flight delay caused by a mechanical problem. Because of the delay she was going to be three hours late for her evening plans. I pointed out that the delay had made everyone else on the flight late as well, and wasn't it better that the mechanical problem had been discovered before the flight was in the air?
She realized the truth in what I had said and she actually chuckled and began to relax a bit. We continued to talk, and she acknowledged that she had been unkind to the passengers and she apologized. She said, "Everyone is entitled to a bad day, right?" I agreed that everyone has bad days, but countered that it shouldn't interfere with their job. She asked how that was possible.
I told her about the policy that Disney follows. When its employees are in a place where they can be seen by guests, or customers, they are considered to be "on stage." In other words, any time they are in front of one or more customers, their "performance," or behavior, has to be at its best. Employees of any company should similarly seek to "wow" the customer. In return, the business will receive applause — or similar accolades in the form of complements, referrals and repeat business.
So, while you are entitled to a bad day, you still need to put on a happy face and perform your duties as cheerfully as possible in front of the customer. Yes, some days it will take extra effort, but that is the secret of superstar customer service.