“Make my day… “We all know the saying. Made famous by Clint Eastwood as ‘Dirty’ Harry Callaghan. Said through gritted teeth while aiming a Magnum 45 pistol. It was definitely not delivered with positive intent.Today’s world is inhabited by many pessimistic people. A recent survey said a majority of young people did not expect to do as well in life as their parents. The political, environmental and economic uncertainty of a fast-changing world has many people apprehensive, even negative.A Win-Win for BusinessAs businesses struggle to distinguish themselves from their competitors, the current environment provides a golden opportunity to achieve a market advantage at little or no cost.If staff were given the simple target of making every customer smile, your business would benefit in the following ways: You would create a positive interaction for that person, giving them the ‘hit’ of endorphins that might just help them get through their day. You create a memorable experience for the customer that is more likely to result in their returning. You create a positive ambience as customers see other customers smile. Ambience has been credited as being responsible for up to 24% of customer loyalty.
Your staff are happier because you have given them a fun, positive focus for their work – and because customers are being nicer to them!Spread the SmileSmiles are either deliberate or involuntary. Spontaneous, involuntary smiles are totally natural. Deliberate smiles can be of two types:1. The forced smile that is made because you have to – and it shows. This type of smile does not involve the eyes and looks awkward. It is the result of many well-intentioned – but misguided – customer service processes.2. The smile you use to make others smile. This smile spreads across your face and lights up your eyes. It is intentional – but real.Simply asking someone to smile for the second reason changes their smile. Think of the smile you give a three month old baby when trying to get him or her to smile back at you.Give them a TriggerStaff get busy. They get stressed. They worry about completing their routines when there are many demands on their time. It is unrealistic to expect them to remember to ‘spread the smile’ when under this pressure.Relieving the pressure is rarely an option in today’s business environment. So, they will need reminders – ways that you can trigger this positive behaviour. Using the involuntary smile is a clever way to do this. In many businesses, we have successfully created triggers at key points in the staff’s day.One of the first ways we did was a poster on the back of the door that staff walk through to enter the customer area. At first, these posters were very direct. One said “Smile, there are customers on the other side of this door.” Unfortunately, these soon became treated the same as any other instructional sign in the business – they were ignored.The solution to getting them noticed was to change them regularly; but it soon became an unpopular chore to design a new poster. We also realised that staff didn’t need an instruction to smile, they just needed something to trigger their smile.Making Memes WorkA solution that succeeded on many levels was the memes contest. Staff were encouraged to submit memes (generally a photo with some funny caption) that could become door posters. Here’s what they found: Staff became very competitive (even though the prize was minimal) and so became more engaged in a project that benefited both them and the business. It provided a large resource of posters so they could be changed often – ensuring that they received attention.
They worked. Staff were more likely to walk into the customer service area with a smile on their face. They looked like they enjoyed working there – which is a huge turn-on for customers! It gave management an opportunity to show staff appropriate business humour. At the poster ‘judging’ all submissions would be shown and those which were inappropriate were pointed out and an explanation given. This was very valuable – especially to younger staff for whom the main barrier to including humour is that they struggle to distinguish what is and isn’t appropriate humour.It takes very little to turn forgettable service into a memorable experience. It is not reliant on the material outcome for the customer. It depends much more on how the service is provided. All staff need is a simple instruction with an easy-to-apply method. The instruction is ‘Make somebody’s day today’ and the method is ‘by making them smile’.So they will venture out well-armed – not with a Magnum like Dirty Harry, but with a focus on creating that point of difference that will create massive customer loyalty.