Service With a Smile in Islamic Marketing


Customer service is an integral part of any proper marketing. It is a key product differentiation, and one which is too tacit to imitate easily. It is the reason why you may frequent a particular seller even if his product isn’t really the cheapest one around. We are comfortable with people who show us attention and seem to care for our needs. It is no wonder much investment in customer service is spent by businesses not just in the service line, but in product lines as well. Such investments include character tests during hiring processes to hire people naturally exuding service excellence.

However customer service, at any starting level, can be improved, and that is when training comes in. In customer service training, perhaps a key component always emphasized is the importance of the smile. Now, the humble smile, when trained in an artificial setting, may be belittled. Yes, it is easy for you to tell me to smile, but wait till you work a 10 hour shift, and have to constantly serve customers; let’s see if you can keep up that smile in the ninth hour. At such instances, even the best of us may tend to focus more on the deliverable and operations, and less on the smile.

This is where the rich tradition of Islam on customer service and its starting point visible to the other human being, the smile, is so unique. One such saying reported to have been said by the Prophet with a strong and sound chain on the smile addresses the core issue above:

“Don’t belittle any good deed even if it is to meet your brother with a smiling face.” [Muslim]

Do not belittle. Yes, do not belittle any good deed, no matter how simple, even if it is a smile. Two lessons here are:

  1. Any good deed is worth it, and should not be seen as unimportant.
  2. The humble smile is worth the weight.
See also:  Culture and Geography in Islamic Marketing

And there is a third hidden fact behind this hadith which exemplifies the mercy of the Prophet PBUH on mankind; while in conventional marketing the smile helps in garnering support and building relationships, because the Prophet himself now has acknowledged this act – this act now becomes a sunnah. And the sunnah act of smiling, now does not only bring benefit to your business, but to yourself too, as you are rewarded in following the Prophet’s footsteps by following his acts, in this case, smiling.

All the more, to make you smile.

About Author

I have +10 years of unique industry and academic marketing experience in various sectors of the Islamic Business ecosystem, including integrated marketing communications of Zakat (Islamic alms-giving), product and brand management of Wakaf (Islamic endowments), and marketing and feasibility studies in Islamic Education. My Masters thesis studied factors affecting halal-food purchasing by non-Muslims in Singapore. I've also spoken at seminars and conferences including the Global Islamic Marketing Conference. I've published several works as academic journal paper, books, newspaper commentaries and website articles. Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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