My colleague and HorizonCX business partner Joe Camirand wrote a recent blog around The Power of a Smile. Consider this a companion blog that looks at the broader concept of being positive, to which a smile certainly belongs and serves as a great starter. In the world of customer experience, a smile can certainly be detected even when the customer isn’t present—especially over the phone—and lack thereof can lead to poor customer experiences that can often compound themselves and lose business in the process.
As a poignant and excellent example of this, my wife and I recently stopped at a wine shop to pick up a bottle of red where, during the checkout process, we observed and overheard the proprietor on the phone with a prospective customer that apparently was asking about buying a keg of beer and having it delivered. Granted we only were privy to one-half of the conversation, but it was enough to speculate as to what was likely happening on the customer-end of the phone. The proprietor said to the customer with no smile, a stern look, and a curt and a rather gruff tone, “We don’t deliver!” Apparently, the customer wasn’t totally satisfied with that response and must have inquired once again about their need for obtaining a keg of beer and having it delivered. The proprietor, now clearly annoyed, repeated in a louder and sterner tone, “Like I said before, we don’t deliver.” After the proprietor ended the call, he turned to his associate and in a rather exasperated voice said, “I told this guy three times we don’t deliver. I don’t know what more he wants from us.”
My wife and I reflected upon this unplanned ethnographic observation after returning to our car. We discussed just how that one simple phone interaction not only lost potential future business from us in the form of our unwillingness to recommend them but also from that customer on the phone who would not likely choose to do business there either and would likely tell ten others about his negative experience.
We also imagined how this scenario might have played out differently had the proprietor at least smiled, acknowledged the customer’s need, showed a modicum of empathy and offered a possible solution. That could have generated a completely different outcome had the proprietor said something more like this; “I understand what you’re looking for. We certainly do sell beer by the keg but unfortunately, we are not set up to deliver. I hate to turn business away, but if you can’t physically pick up the keg from us, I will tell you that ABC Liquors offers the same product and offers home delivery.” Imagine how impressed the customer might have been to have someone acknowledge their inquiry, empathize with what they needed, and offer up a potential solution. That would have had a significant and positive effect on building a relationship—one that could impact future business from that customer as well as us. Here’s that simple process in a nutshell—I call it the SAER Model.
SMILE – ACKNOWLEDGE – EMPATHIZE – RESOLVE
It’s all about thinking positive, being positive and exuding positivity. Granted the Power of Positivity or the power of positive thinking may seem a bit pedantic or cliché, but the benefits of being and acting in a positive manner have been proven over the centuries in ways incalculable.
There was a fantastic article on this topic written by Larry Alton that was published on June 7, 2016, in Success Magazine titled 7 Practical Tips to Achieve a Positive Mindset. In the article, Larry helps us understand what the “power of positive thinking” really means along with the help of some extremely concrete examples to help you through the process. Here’s what he had to offer.
- Start the day with a positive affirmation.
How you start the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Have you ever woken up late, panicked, and then felt like nothing good happened the rest of the day? This is likely because you started out the day with a negative emotion and a pessimistic view that carried into every other event you experienced. Instead of letting this dominate you, start your day with positive affirmations. Talk to yourself in the mirror, even if you feel silly, with statements like, “Today will be a good day” or “I’m going to be awesome today.” You’ll be amazed how much your day improves.
- Focus on the good things, however small.
Almost invariably, you’re going to encounter obstacles throughout the day—there’s no such thing as a perfect day. When you encounter such a challenge, focus on the benefits, no matter how slight or unimportant they seem. For example, if you get stuck in traffic, think about how you now have time to listen to the rest of your favorite podcast. If the store is out of the food you want to prepare, think about the thrill of trying something new.
- Find humor in bad situations.
Allow yourself to experience humor in even the darkest or most trying situations. Remind yourself that this situation will probably make for a good story later and try to crack a joke about it. Say you’re laid off; imagine the most absurd way you could spend your last day or the most ridiculous job you could pursue next—like kangaroo handler or bubblegum sculptor.
- Turn failures into lessons.
You aren’t perfect. You’re going to make mistakes and experience failure in multiple contexts, at multiple jobs, and with multiple people. Instead of focusing on how you failed, think about what you’re going to do next time—turn your failure into a lesson. Conceptualize this in concrete rules. For example, you could come up with three new rules for managing projects as a result.
- Transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk can creep up easily and is often hard to notice. You might think I’m so bad at this or I shouldn’t have tried that. But these thoughts turn into internalized feelings and might cement your conceptions of yourself. When you catch yourself doing this, stop and replace those negative messages with positive ones. For example, I’m so bad at this becomes Once I get more practice, I’ll be way better at this. I shouldn’t have tried becomes That didn’t work out as planned—maybe next time.
- Focus on the present.
I’m talking about the present—not today, not this hour, only this exact moment. You might be getting chewed out by your boss, but what in this exact moment is happening that’s so bad? Forget the comment he made five minutes ago. Forget what he might say five minutes from now. Focus on this one, individual moment. In most situations, you’ll find it’s not as bad as you imagine it to be. Most sources of negativity stem from a memory of a recent event or the exaggerated imagination of a potential future event. Stay in the present moment.
- Find positive friends, mentors, and co-workers.
When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, positive stories, and positive affirmations. Their positive words will sink in and affect your own line of thinking, which then affects your words and similarly contributes to the group. Finding positive people to fill up your life can be difficult, but you need to eliminate the negativity in your life before it consumes you. Do what you can to improve the positivity of others, and let their positivity affect you the same way.
Almost anybody in any situation can apply these lessons to their own lives and increase their positive attitude. As you might imagine, positive thinking offers compound returns, so the more often you practice it, the greater benefits you’ll realize.
Step back every so often to reflect upon these seven steps to having a more positive mindset and carry that mentality and those actions into your everyday work environment. They are bound to pay back in dividends. Starting with a simple smile, as my colleague Joe suggested, is a great way to begin the process and then follow through with the easy to learn and easy to remember SAER process:
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