I’m not talking about grinning at someone when they walk into your establishment and then putting on a serious expression to ask them ‘Can I help you’? If you just grin, believe me, your customers can see you are not genuinely smiling, and you will lose them fast!
What I’m talking about is:
- Welcoming a customer with a warm smile, and a friendly greeting when they come into your company, or when they call you, or communicating with you electronically;
- I’m talking about creating a feeling of ‘I want to serve you’ and ‘I want to give you the best that I can, right now, right here’;
- I’m alluding to making a customer feel that they are the most important person in your life at that time, in that moment;
- I’m referring to providing customer delight – giving that smile, which will persuade your customers to buy, even when they walked into your company/shop to ‘just browse’;
- I’m talking about the feeling of excitement, of joy, and of laughter whenever you are dealing with customers; and finally
- I am talking about creating excellent customer service, thereby, increasing your sales, revenues and profits.
Benefits of providing service with a smile
Smiling, and laughter, can be a profitable business tool. Steve Martin, co-author of the New York Times best seller ‘Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion’, in his article, ‘Doing business with a smile’, quotes Victor Borge, affectionately known as the Clown Prince of Denmark, the Danish-American humourist, entertainer and pianist as saying, ‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people’. He goes on to say, ‘Laughter connects people and builds relationships’.
Smiling breeds trust between you and your customer. When you welcome a customer with a smile, they become relaxed, they warm up to you, and they will trust you with any advise you give them, even if the advise is not relevant to what they had come for.
Smiling, and laughter, reduce stress. When you smile, your brain keeps track of your smile and knows how often you’ve smiled and which overall emotional state you were in when you smiled. In that way, you have less stress because your brain has saved happy emotions of your previous smiles.
Smiling creates more positive emotions about yourself. When you smile, you feel good and that helps you to become happier, thereby sending the same positive vibes to the person/customer you are dealing with.
Tips for the small business owner
As an entrepreneur, you are unavoidably dealing with a lot of challenges, possibly on a daily basis. These could include having to meet with potential investors to convince them to invest in your product/service, to meet a potentially difficult customer to negotiate a deal, and maybe, having to deal with an irate customer who was unhappy with your service or product. How then do you incorporate smiling so that you can achieve your profitability objectives?
Past happy memories
Recall a ‘make you feel good’ event that happened to you in the past. It could be when you proposed to your sweetheart, the birth of your child, when you passed matric, when you met a long lost friend – anything that evoked feelings of happiness and brought a smile and laughter to you. Remember how you felt, how happy you were.
As you remember those good times, imagine yourself convincing your investors to come onboard, and what a happy feeling you will have. I promise you, when you go into that meeting, you will have positive feelings, and you might just clinch the deal. And if you don’t clinch it, don’t frown – smile at how positive you were, how you looked forward to meeting those people, and you will feel good about having attended the meeting and the lessons learnt of how you can impress your investors in the future.
Stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself smiling. Smiling is not only about showing your teeth. It’s about smiling from the bottom of your belly, and getting your entire face to smile. It’s about your lips widening positively, and your eyes widening together with your lips
Become comfortable with smiling
Imagine yourself smiling at your client, and see the feeling of happiness when your customer smiles back at you. Often times, people just smile for the sake of smiling, and they are not smiling for real. Learn the art of smiling. Believe me, it takes effort and time.
A genuine smile is far more beneficial
When you smile, make it a genuine smile. I’m not talking about grinning. I’m talking about real smiling, which tries to connect you with your customer, your potential investor. A customer can read if your smile is a fake, and they can read if your smile is genuine. So, when you do smile, smile for real. Your irate customer might just turn out to become your happy, favourate customer. And they will tell other people, and soon, you will experience a lot more customers coming your way, because your customer told them of how welcome you made them feel.
Practice what you preach
Train your employees to treat your customers in a manner that you want them to be treated. Show them the importance of smiling, but most importantly, lead by example. Smile at your employees. It won’t take anything from you.
My challenge to you? It doesn’t really take a lot. All you need is just smile. After all, it’s the difference between you making your profits, and you making a loss.
‘Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes, your smile can be the source of your joy’. Thich Nhat Hanh