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In my previous job (that I have left not so long ago), I was sending tickets to our customers in our internal tracking system and ended each with "Have a nice day". My boss politely informed me that sending good karma or positive emotions toward customers is not a part of our job or procedures for handling customer tickets and I should stop doing so.

I quit that job for various other reasons (this one was at far end of the list), but I still feel a bit uncomfortable thinking about that situation (I like to be nice) and I would like to know how to handle such situations in the future?

Were my messages inappropriate in the context of a professional communication?

closed as off-topic by Jim G., Dawny33, gnat, Alec, user9158 Dec 3 '15 at 22:48

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Real questions have answers. Rather than explaining why your situation is terrible, or why your boss/coworker makes you unhappy, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, click here." – Jim G., Dawny33, gnat, Alec, Community
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Note that for UK and I suspect other non US speakers "Have a nice day" can be seen as being sarcastic and wishing you the opposite or just insincere. – user151019 Dec 2 '15 at 21:01
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    You don't have to change your attitude to not include a message as instructed by by boss. And that is not forcing you to not be nice. In the future you should be more tolerant of instructions from your boss. – paparazzo Dec 2 '15 at 21:09
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    in many cases the information you send to your customer in not compatible with ending your message that way, and in several cases it can be taken as a deliberate insult. (We won't be solving your problem for various reasons. Have a nice day!) – njzk2 Dec 3 '15 at 4:05
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    Stackexchange also has the rule that questions/answers should not include such things as "Hello" or "Have a nice day". This is not really about being "nice" but more of expectations. If I look at bugs in my bug tracking system, I really do not expect to see someone say "Have a wonderful day" or something like that. It's just not the right place for that. – Brandin Dec 3 '15 at 7:25
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    Hi! How are you doing? I hope well, and that both your past and future endeavours have been successful as well. That is a lovely username you have. The reason for this in a business environment is usually to maximize the signal to noise ratio: you want to get a message across with a minimum of fluff to make future scanning/sorting/etc. more efficient. I hope you find this advise to be taken in the lighthearted spirit it was given, and that your day today-- and not just today, but all days in the future-- stand as a testament to a good, just, and successful life. Yours Truly, DigitalChris – Digital Chris Dec 3 '15 at 17:49
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While "Have a nice day!" can be a pleasant note on which to end an email, such comments are at best superfluous in a ticket tracking system.

Typically such a system should contain only critical information, and the entries should be both professional, and to the point.

A similar example are posts on this site. Answers and questions are meant to allow future readers to get the greatest amount of information in as concise a format as possible. Posts and questions are routinely edited to exclude things such as "thank you"s, or personal opinions, in order to keep the content as close to the facts as possible.

So - without having all the information - I would say that yes, your boss was within his rights to ask you to stop posting such messages in the ticketing system, and future bosses will likely do the same.

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    correct, it has no place in a ticket system, but even if it did, the boss can tell you to leave it out, He/she is the boss, they can also stipulate how they want you to start and end emails if it comes to that. This is fairly common in some places. – Kilisi Dec 2 '15 at 20:37
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    The OP states they are sending tickets, so although tracked internally as tickets, they will probably be received as emails. While I agree a bug tracker only needs the data, the customers receiving the email will probably expect a more developed answer. – Ángel Dec 2 '15 at 23:53
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    I use "Let me know if you have any question or concerns!", which is to the point, and could be perceived as friendly. – Austin Burk Dec 3 '15 at 1:40
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    Including "Have a nice day" at the end of a message about, for example, a crash bug that just cost someone a large chunk of their time, or a note saying that the funeral director is booked up for the next two weeks, would be a terrible idea. – user867 Dec 3 '15 at 3:02
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    I was really disappointed not to see "Have a nice day" be the last thing you said. – jshthornton Dec 3 '15 at 7:51
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There is no obvious objective "right or wrong" here. Ultimately, any ticketing system aims at turning the unpredictable&unstructured human interaction to resemble a boring machine-to-machine interaction; it shows a staff as a machine, and to the staff the requests also look like a steady factory line.

Your manager wants to strengthen this factory line abstraction; you don't. He wants keep the content as close to the (did I mention boring) facts as possible; you don't. In my opinion you're right and he's wrong. Others have their own opinions.

What really matters is that you are not a slave. You are free to use your judgement in major things as well as in such minor things. I know I go against the standard Workplace.SE way, but sometimes you don't do as your told and it can harm your career only a tiny little bit. But you need to weigh the risk and try to predict the management response. If you proceed with good-karma-stupid-nice-smile way, your boss could go bonkers and turn this into a horrible ego trip. Another boss would just point the thing out twice more and then say to themselves "what a moron, well, I've seen worse, whatever". Another boss would just find some light punishment (like "so, mister nice guy now always gets tickets from our wonderful top priority customer XYZ") and forget about it altogether.

Experienced managers more often than not are used to really serious discipline issues; they just don't let everyone to see it. Your problem is not so serious.

I guess it's up to you to risk this tradeoff.

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    Your answer is generally correct, but not when it comes to a ticketing system. In most things personal judgement should definitely be used, but when it comes to a ticketing system all information should be concise and unambiguous. As soon as you start adding superfluous information you are no longer being concise. – Cronax Dec 3 '15 at 9:00
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    When you fill in an online form, and you encounter a "Display Name" field, do you write the requested information ("kubanczyk") or do you go off on an entirely pointless tangent by adding useless suffixes to make yourself feel like you're being polite ("kubanczyk - thanks for asking and have a nice day! Cheers")? It's the same thing. – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 3 '15 at 12:19
  • @Davor: The term "close to the facts" is being stretched/misused in this answer. I don't think it actually represents kubanczyk's opinion? Perhaps He wants keep the content strictly to the facts, with no greetings or pleasantries; you don't. In my opinion you're right – Neil Slater Dec 3 '15 at 16:31
  • @kybanczyk not to mention in some places they may demand that you do be nice, it's part of some organizations' brand. – Josh Rumbut Dec 4 '15 at 16:02
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I think the short answer is: In general, if the boss says to do X, and you don't want to do X or think X is a bad idea, you have 3 choices: Do as you're told, quit, or ignore the boss and do it your own way. Option C will likely result in the boss being annoyed, possibly even in getting fired.

If this was a profound moral issue, like the boss is telling you to pay a bribe or blatantly cheat a customer or sleep with a client to make a sale, I'd say to stand your ground. But "have a nice day"? Are you really going to fight to the death over your right to say "have a nice day" at the end of an e-mail?

Your question title sounds like an overstatement of the issue. From the body of your question, the boss didn't say "don't be nice to customers", but "don't include stock pleasantries at the end of a message".

Others have commented on possible reasons. Whether you agree with those reasons or not, they are not incomprehensible or insane. Leaving out a stock pleasantry is not necessarily rude, it may just be efficient or subdued.

Frankly, in this case I'd just follow the boss's instructions. Even if you don't agree, it's not worth fighting over.

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    You forgot the most common option: Tell the boss that you think it's a bad idea and why. With three possibilities: The boss accepts that it was a bad idea, the boss tells you and then you realise why it was actually a good idea, or the boss tells you to do as you are told - only in that case we are back to your three choices. – gnasher729 Dec 3 '15 at 9:11
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    @gnasher729 Oh yes, absolutely. – Jay Dec 3 '15 at 14:17
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Automatically adding "Have a nice day" means that the phrase can become rote and meaningless.

At which point, the phrase can be perceived by the person receiving the message as the opposite of nice. And by the time it becomes a force of habit it can also become actually insincere.

Even if you intend it with all sincerity, it may not be perceived that way, if it is obvious that it is given out reflexively.

So, it can be best to use reporting systems to report, rather than to start up a conversation.

It will vary from place to place.

And of course, there is a big difference between restricting the over-use of redundant repetitive or platitudinous phrases, and actually wanting people to be unpleasant.

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    Personally, I manually add a little signoff, but generally only once i've resolved a ticket. During an email "conversation" on an issue I'll simply use a "Thanks" or just my signature line, then at the conclusion of the issue I'll end with something like "Have a great weekend", "Cheers", etc. I think a personal touch is nice, but you do need to ensure it's actually personal, otherwise as @EuanM states it can become rote or insincere. – Doktor J Dec 3 '15 at 7:11
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There are several issues here to be addressed. Yes indeed your boss has the absolute right and responsibility to tell you what is is not appropriate in official business correspondence. Anything coming from the company, like responses to issues that customers have brought to a help desk, needs to enhance the company image in the way the company wants it enhanced. Even internally, what you write in official systems is part of the impression that other parts of the company have of your department not just you as an individual.

And it is entirely possible that your boss was asked to get you to stop adding those phrases because there were complaints about them. Many people absolutely hate the phrase "Have a nice day." It is not being nice to add that phrase. At best, it is a meaningless stock phrase. At worse it is actively at odds with the message being answered.

It is a good thing to want to be nice to the customers or clients. What you need to address is a more effective way to do that than the use of stock phrases. If you are in a help desk situation (which it sounded like you were), then the best way to be nice to the customer is to fix their problem. The next best thing is to actively listen to what they have to say and respond to it appropriately without getting mad or snippy or going off on an unrelated tangent.

For instance, I recently had a question about something for a piece of software I used. The help desk person responded with, that information is on our website. Well if I had been able to find it on the website I would not have asked. I pointed this out and the response was a link to a 60 page pdf document. I pointed out that I didn't want to wade through that and could he just answer my very simple question (BTW I did read it and it skated around my issue but did not answer it.). He pointed me to something related to my question but not answering it. Something far enough away from what I asked that if he had paid attention to what I asked he would not have sent that to me as an answer. I then emailed back and told him that I would no longer be buying further software from his company.

In any of those emails, "Have a nice day." would have been taken as sarcastic nonsense. My question was one he should have been able to answer in five minutes or less. Instead we went about two weeks emailing back and forth as I tried to get him to actually pay attention to what I was saying. A customer service rep who was being nice would have simply answered the question in the first place. One who didn't know the answer, should have referred me to someone who would or looked for the answer himself. That is being nice, not using stock phrases.

Now another way to be nice is to respond to what the person says when they go off on a tangent. For instance, I totally lost it once when a company kept calling my phone and asking for my boyfriend who had just died. The third time I told them he was dead, I totally lost it and begged them to take him out of their database. A nice customer service rep at that point (and I did have one, it wasn't his fault that no one had marked my boyfriend as dead in their system) would have expressed sympathy for my loss as well as taking action to ensure I didn't have to endure frequent calls from this company asking for a person who was no longer alive. A not nice customer service rep would have ignored what I said. Sending me an email confirming that they had removed my dead boyfriend from their marketing database that ended with "Have a nice day." would have sent me into tears. It would not have been a nice gesture.

With customers such as internal ones that you deal with repeatedly, you can get more personal, but probably not within an official ticketing system. If someone just returned from maternity leave, I might ask about their baby. Someone who just got back from a vacation in Hawaii might get asked how the trip went etc.

Connecting on a personal basis is being nice. Going the extra mile to help someone out is nice. Smiling at people and complimenting them is nice. Telling their boss what a a good job they are doing is nice. Calming down someone who is upset is nice. Using rote phrases is neutral at best.

  • Compare "it is often a meaningless stock phrase" with your contention that "at best it is a meaningless stock phrase". It is not necessarily a meaningless stock phrase, but I agree it is very easy for it become a meaningless stock phrase. – Euan M Dec 3 '15 at 19:08

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