Are Smiles Really Free?

Smiles Come at Significant Costs

How many times have you heard, “A smile is free. It costs absolutely nothing to give but can mean the world to the person who receives it?” I agree with the second part, “can mean the world to the person who receives it”, but I do not agree with the first part, “a smile costs absolutely nothing”. Maybe from a personal standpoint, yes, it costs us nothing to smile at one another, however, not in a business sense. Think about the friendliest businesses you deal with, where it would be hard to find an employee who isn’t smiling, i.e. Disney, The Ritz-Carlton, Southwest Airlines, or Chick-fil-A. To get all your employees to consistently smile comes at a significant cost to both the business and Customers. The investment for the business is that they have to recruit better, hire happier employees and train more than everyone else. That investment means the businesses will have to charge more for their services & products. So in reality, the Customers (gladly) pay more for smiling faces. Don’t be mistaken; it is one of the greatest investments you can ever make.

Chick-fil-A #1 In Politeness

According to a QSR Magazine’s annual report, Chick-fil-A is the most polite chain in the restaurant business. Employees at Chick-fil-A were the most likely of the chains surveyed to say “please” and “thank you,” and to smile at customers. “We know our customers appreciate that we can be nice while being fast and accurate,” says Mark Moraitakis, Senior Director of Hospitality and Service Design. “Eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”

It is certainly not the pay. According to Glassdoor, Chick-fil-A doesn’t pay much more than the industry average. Then why is Chick-fil-A consistently the highest rated chain in Customer satisfaction? Because the restaurant chain invests more than other companies in training its employees and helping them advance their careers — regardless of whether those careers are in fast food.

Return On Smiles

Does this obsession with the Customer experience and fanatical attention to detail really pay off? The chain consistently ranks first in restaurant Customer service surveys. In recent years, Chick-fil-A generated more revenue per restaurant than any other fast-food chain in the US. The chain’s average sales per restaurant reached nearly $4 million, compared to the average KFC, which sold $1 million. Customer service is the key to Chick-fil-A’s success. Superior customer service drives higher sales per unit, contributing to the chain’s ability to generate higher annual sales than KFC, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s even though each has more than twice as many US locations.

Recommended Video Clip To Share With Your Team

Watch this 90 second video on how employees should NEVER point or say ‘No’.

What is your company’s “State of Service?”
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  • Do you have the proper training for high service aptitude with new employees?
  • Are you losing customers to lower prices?
If not, what are you doing to change that?
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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.

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