Can smiling really give you the competitive advantage? Research by Kingston business school found a simple smile and a friendly greeting can make customers feel much more loyal towards companies. The study, funded by Barclays Business Banking found that consumers were willing to pay more for a product from a small independent shop rather than a large retailer if the service was friendlier. So smiling really is good for business. Of course it can’t just be about the smile, we know that ensuring your services are easy to access and customers’ expectations are met, impacts on how satisfied customers are too. However in an ever increasingly competitive world, a simple smile could give you the advantage.
For years call centres have promoted; smile when you dial. However it’s amazing how many organizations still don’t value it as part of their customer service strategy. Smiling and feeling good shouldn’t just be reserved for the customer either. Ensuring your teams have resilience skills, feel positive and enjoy their work will undoubtedly impact on how they feel about the company and how they communicate this to the customer. After all your employees are the biggest advocates of your service. A further study at Penn State University found that people who smile are more likeable, perceived as more courteous. and even more competent. This is reason enough to smile at every person you potentially want to do business with. Lifting those facial muscles into a smile is also contagious; if you smile and they smile, everyone in the room becomes a little happier. Even when fake smiling you still get the same results. Smiling doesn’t just benefit you on the inside, it also works to your advantage from the outside.
Smiling also greatly improves your mood and reduces stress, not just individually but in teams and groups too because smiles are contagious. The part of your brain that is responsible for your facial expression of smiling when happy or mimicking another’s smile resides in the cingulate cortex, an unconscious, automatic response area. In a Swedish study, subjects were shown pictures of several emotions: joy, anger, fear and surprise. When the picture of someone smiling was presented, the researchers asked the subjects to frown. Instead, they found that the facial expressions went directly to imitation of what subjects saw, a smile. It took a conscious effort for subjects to frown. So if you’re smiling at someone, it’s likely they can’t help but smile back and we know when people smile they are more likely to perceive what they see, hear or the situation they are in, as positive. In another study by Harvard university of more than 4,700 people who were followed over 20 years, they found that people who are happy or become happy boost the chances that someone they know will be happy. As human behaviour is largely influenced by the way we feel and understanding that we are more likely to be motivated to do something if it makes us feel good, then surely the simple act of smiling that has so many positive effects should be consciously used more in teams, by managers and leaders to promote positive behaviour. So to help you bring more smiles to your teams and customers we’ve put together some smile tips:
Make sure you practice a warm smile
It sounds daft but the more you practice a smile the more your smile muscles will be able to smile on demand and in a way that seems warm and authentic. When you catch yourself really smiling, check in on how you are feeling and what facial muscles are engaging when you do this. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference a smile can make. Whether it’s reassuring a customer they are making a good choice or trying to defuse a sticky situation. A smile shows that you’re calm, in a good mood, and willing to do what you can to help.
Smile when you dial
Research tells us the tone of your voice changes when you smile and it’s actually very noticeable – people can hear smiles even if they can’t see them. If you need some motivation to smile, just think of a funny memory or a person you really like being around and the smile will soon come. Even try standing up or sitting up-right in your chair with shoulders back and this will change your tone and how the person engages. If you’re more of an email person, emoticons are being used more and more in business now to create positive feelings in email. Some people say that emoticons aren’t very professional, but one well-placed “smiley” takes the tone of the text to a whole new level and gets a totally different response.
Make your customer or colleague feel special
People pay more attention to what you’re saying when you personalise information. Using someone’s name a couple of times when you speak to them and remembering something personal about them makes them feel special. It shows you have really listened to them and they’re more than just another customer or colleague. This personal touch creates rapport and positive feelings towards you.
Treat your team and delight them with a surprise
The most important people to spread smiles to are the people who work with you. By doing this you’ll build positive emotional bonds which will spread to your customers. If you’re always smiling, happy, and glad to talk with your team, you’ll find they carry that attitude towards people who buy from your business. Also doing something a bit fun that’s unexpected can break up the day and create brilliant moral in the team.
Give out compliments and notice when people do things well
We often let people know when they’re not doing well and are quick to complain, however when we let people know they’re doing well and even complimenting them when they’re not expecting it we increase sopamine levels in the brain. Increasing motivation and therefore productivity.
To find out more about our SMILE Customer service workshop or programme you can visit http://www.laughology.co.uk/business-workshops/smile-excellence-in-customer-service and find out more about all the programmes we deliver at www.laughology.co.uk