One of the most important job skills every employee, including those on the autism spectrum, must learn is how to greet a customer properly. If employees learn this valuable skill, they will be way ahead of the pack. Their employer will notice and customers will become life-long evangelists.


Many employees (and business owners!) fail miserably at this simple task, turning customers off forever and losing them to the competition, or to the online marketplace, often without even realizing it.

In my previous life I owned a specialty retail store. I developed an extensive and innovative six-week customer service and sales training program for new employees, where they were introduced to proven techniques and had to pass a test before joining the sales team. The program worked. I watched as confidence – and customer satisfaction and sales – soared. The tenets taught in this first training program provided the basis of my award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service.

Starting with that all important smile and friendly greeting at the front door, we took our store from a start-up to a beloved award-winning specialty retail business.

Known through the Midwest for excellent, friendly customer service and a vast selection of high quality merchandise, we won West Bloomfield’s Most Beautiful Store Award. Through leadership, customer service, and sales training, this store became the leading Midwest dealer for many brands.

We didn’t take a single customer for granted, and neither should you. I can tell you one thing for certain: Without that smile and friendly greeting to our customers at the front door, we would have been out of business in the first six months.

There’s a famous Chinese proverb that I include in the front of my book

“A man without a smiling face must not open up a shop.”

When I walk into a business and I am not greeted, and when I see other customers not being greeted, I think to myself, “Who owns and/or manages this business? Why are they failing at the simplest (and often most important!) task?”

Greeting customers with a warm smile and friendly “Hello” should be done simply because it’s common courtesy, just as you’d greet a guest in your home. Not to mention that greeting customers properly makes you more money. When greeted properly, customers stay, spend money, and become repeat customers. Contrast these customers to the customers you ignore who often leave without making a purchase and will never come back. These lost customers tell others about their poor customer service experience, causing you to lose more customers and money-it’s a vicious cycle.

How to Greet Your Customers

To help solve this rampant problem, I am providing you with one quick and powerful lesson on how to greet your customers properly in the excerpt directly below from my book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service-The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course


When a customer enters your business or office, greet them promptly and politely – just as you would greet a guest in your home.

Here’s How

1. Smile. Make it a warm, genuine, heartfelt smile.
2. Look your customer in the eye and say “Hello!” Speak in a warm, upbeat, and friendly manner.

This may sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to greet their customers properly.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, first impressions occur instantaneously or within two seconds. A simple smile and friendly “Hello” are extremely powerful and can mean the difference between a customer spending their money with you (and possibly becoming a customer for life) and walking out the door to spend it with your competition.

The Smile Study

In The New York Times bestseller Buyology, Martin Lindstrom discusses “The Smile Study”. Its bottom line? A smile from a salesperson leads to more sales.

Indifference is one of the biggest reasons people don’t return to a business.

Practice this skill until you have mastered it. Role-play the techniques and lesson above with your family, friends or co-workers. A warm smile and friendly “Hello” will make your customers feel welcome and ensure that you always make a great first impression. This will make you feel good too! It’s one powerful way to keep your job and succeed at work.

Parts excerpted from Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service-The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course, Copyright © Kirt Manecke. Kirt Manecke is the author of SMILE: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service: The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course. SMILE is the winner of the Mom’s Choice Gold Award honoring excellence, Teachers Choice Award, FOREWORD Reviews Book of the Year Award, and others. Learn more at

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  1. Hello,
    I have an employee with Asperger’s who is on the verge of being terminated by my boss. We are in the hair business doing men’s hair. He is a hairstylist. Sometimes his conversation with clients is inappropriate. We have spoken to him about it but he will be good for awhile and then slip. A client asked him what the weirdest thing that happened to him in the hair business and he recalled being sexually harrassed in another place of employment to the client. The client gave him a very damaging review. I would like to keep him and find some kind of training for him but do not know where to look!

    1. I’m a bit late to this one, but here goes:

      He might be a habitual boundary crosser, which is a habit that is separate from having or not having Asperger’s. Hopefully the conversations about this included lists of which topics were approriate or inappropriate. For common small-talk questions, e.g. “What is the weirdest thing that happened to you?”, sometimes the honest answer involves an “inappropriate” topic, and an appropriate answer feels like lying. For these situations, you can say, “If the honest answer involves an “inappropriate” topic, such as sex, religion, politics, personal health, etc. either tell a lie or pretend you were asked a slightly different question, e.g. only in relation to agreed-upon appropriate topics.”

  2. This… honestly held no tips for someone with any form of autism or asperger’s working in customer service. The advice was basically just “smile and say hello!” which is not enough for advising people who struggle with in-person interactions in their customer service role. It isn’t necessarily a bad article (although it still seems kind of useless since it provides literally no other tips on customer service aside from the bare minimum) but it is a bad source for anyone looking for suggestions on how to succeed in a customer service job with aspergers or autism.

  3. I’ve looked at these materials in depth and plan to order more in the fall for a high school Intro to Careers class. Obviously, Kirt has proven through experience what works and I want to be sure that my students have the best chance of succeeding at their jobs and in life.

  4. I use to work in customer service and I would always smile. Even though I smiled, I would still have difficulty with customers who did not understand me which a lot of if was because I would try too hard to please customers. I also would have issues where I was misinterpreted by customers because of my quirky mannerisms which would make me mad and I would start obsessing non stop. I was wondering if I could receive more information on how I could study smiling and get more people to smile back at me? Thanks!

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