Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Go the Extra Smile

Image courtesy of Pixabay
When a book's opening sentence includes the following phrase in bold, I know I want to read what the author has to say: 

"Good service is good business."

Simple concept, right? Treat customers well, and the business will flourish. Yet some still don't get that.

There's another book you need to add to your reading list: Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service. As is touted on the book's cover, it's a 60-minute crash course to help you get started doing just that - 88 pages packed with more tips and examples than you think might be packed into this book.

Why is this book different? I like that the author, Kirt Manecke, was the owner of an award-winning specialty store. More importantly, he understands the importance of employee onboarding and the employee experience - and the relationship to delivering a great customer experience. The book contains tips from that employee training program and from Kirt's 30+ years of general business and selling experience.

He starts the book with the top ten ways to make your customers smile and outlines how to do each one.

1. Smile. If someone walks into your business, greet them and be polite.
2. Make a friend. People buy from people they trust. Apply the golden rule.
3. Answer the phone with a smile. First impressions are lasting impressions, right?
4. Say "Please" and "Thank you." Simple enough.
5. Acknowledge your customers, even if you're busy.
6. Never ask, "Can I help you?" There are better ways to engage your customers.
7. Uncover the customer's ultimate buying motive. What job is he trying to do?
8. Probe. Ask questions. Dig deeper.
9. Listen.
10. Know your product and your competition.

Early in the book, Kirt introduces some research discussed by Martin Lindstrom in Buyology, i.e., The Smiling Study, in which researchers looked at how joy and happiness affected shoppers. The results: "a smiling face 'evokes more joy in the target person than a non-smiling face,' and it also produces a far more positive overall attitude toward the business in question. ... and the smiling person reported that they would be more likely to keep on patronizing the company in question." (Mind you, this study was all done with the volunteers imagining a smiling scenario. But I still like the results.)

Lindstrom also mentions in Buyology a piece of research done by Duke University that uncovered that people were not only attracted to people who smile but are also more likely to remember their names. "We want to remember people who were kind to us, in case we interact with them in the future."

The proof is in the pudding. Or in the business results.

OK, back to Smile. Making customers smile doesn't just come from what you say to, or ask, them; it's also a result of your attitude and behavior. The next ten tips reflect this theme and are detailed in the book.

1. Make good eye contact.
2. Watch your body language. Make sure it's welcoming and professional.
3. Be enthusiastic.
4. Dress for success.
5. Keep it professional.
6. Don't make the customer wait.
7. Before you put a customer on hold, ask permission.
8. The customer in front of you comes first.
9. Follow up promptly.
10. Master electronic etiquette.

There's more to the book, but I'll leave it at that and let you discover the rest. Again, it's a quick and easy read but filled with great words of wisdom. If there's any doubt about the validity of this concept, this thing that is sometimes foreign in the world of customer service, i.e., the smile, just think about the last time you walked into a store or a restaurant. Did the employee smile? Did he make you smile? How did it make you feel?

Note: Kirt sent me a copy of his book with no obligation to read or review.

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop. -Chinese Proverb


  1. Hello Annette, Thank you very much. I love the title! :-) Treating others well really is, as you say, such a simple concept. Hopefully your article will help spread the word to encourage more businesses to Smile and prosper. Thank you again.

    1. You're welcome, Kirt! I hope so, too.

      Annette :-)

  2. Annette,

    I am in the market for a wood burning stove. I have pretensions of sophistication, so I am looking for a funky scandinavian model, I suspect it will cost me well over £2,000.

    Yesterday I walked into a shop. The assistant sat behind his computer and didn't even acknowledge me. I spent 20 minutes looking at stoves, picked up some brochures then turned around and walked right out.

    I am not going back.

    I think Kirt makes a valid point or two.


    1. Yikes, James. That, unfortunately, is an all-too-common occurrence. Sad, really.

      Annette :-)

    2. Annette, Thanks for bringing the book to my attention. It looks like a great read offering some great insights.

      James, did you dress like a 'wood-burning' stove kinda guy? Were you dressed 'hip' enough? That seems to be a prevailing problem with many fashionable or funky products ie. do we (the business and it's employees) think that you are 'hip' enough to buy our product. Unfortunate but true.


    3. Adrian, you're welcome. I agree... sadly, that does happen in certain retail outlets/industries.

      Annette :-)

  3. Annette, As the manager of a Customer Service team, the service afforded to me as a consumer is one way I measure the service my team offers. There is a well known international coffee company in the building where I work. Every morning, I watch as the person at the register waits while the barista behinds the counter takes mobile order after mobile order, places the sticker on a cup and places the cup ahead of the customer in front of them. If you are buying coffee or tea only, you get your beverage right away. Meanwhile, at the end of the line stand all the people who placed an order in person...waiting for their order, while the mobile orders are filled and getting cold. I understand having your order waiting when you arrive, but the app advises how long the wait is, why not extend the time a few minutes and place your present customer first? We are so used to doing everything over the internet that companies have forgotten how to service the customer in front of them. My team is not customer facing but my team knows when their phone rings that customer gets their immediate and undivided attention. Making a customer wait is just not acceptable.

    1. Marybeth, this is a huge point of contention for that mobile order service. I witnessed the same thing recently. Mobile orders piled up, while those of us waiting for the orders we placed in person did, too. Definitely a service offering that needs to be re-evaluated.