“Nice is the new mean.”

– Lauren Zalaznick, NBC Universal

Speaking on a new trend in friendlier customer service in Hollywood’ s A- list hotels, quoted in New York Times, October 4th, 2009.

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. Hmmm….there’s a fine line between nice and overbearing – while I would definitely prefer nice to mean (especially when it comes to a hotel experience), I find that too much “nice” can also be a turn off. For example, I was in Staples the other day, and every employee asked me how I was doing and if I needed help with anything. It was as if they had all just had a team meeting and had been instructed on how to be friendly. What resulted was an experience that felt insincere. After the 4th “Hi, how are you doing, can I help you with anything,” I was annoyed and wanted to get out of the store as soon as possible!

  2. I completely agree with Lauren L. – I have had similar experiences lately and think the balance is tough. I was staying in a hotel in Chicago and the guy delivering tea to the room brought it to us for free, but then he stayed a little too long to ask what we were doing in Chicago and what we did for work, though he was just trying to be “nice”, it was definitely a little annoying. Though on the other hand, I often shop at Saks and find the customer service to be too mean, they are taking the “we are a classy store” schtick a bit far. Its a fine line but I think you can win if you just treat customers like human beings (if a customer looks at you, say hello, if she is going through a rack of clothes looking at each tag, ask her if you can help her find a size, if it is 11pm and she has arrived in your hotel that afternoon, try not to ask her 20 questions).

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