Kirt Manecke is an award winning author and sales, marketing, and fundraising specialist who’s an expert at delivering amazing customer service that makes people smile. Kirt is passionate about helping teens and adults succeed. He wants to help people with autism and other special needs get and keep a job and live fulfilling lives, which is why he is thrilled to be working with Aspergers101. He hopes his information will make it easier for parents of kids and adults with special needs to make friends and get that job.
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.
Volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way for tweens, teens and young adults on the autism spectrum to practice and improve social and job skills. They also learn responsibility and a respect for animals. As visitors come into animal shelters to look at animals available for adoption, it’s the perfect place for teens to improve face-to-face communication. The experience they gain volunteering at an animal shelter molds them into more effective volunteers and prepares them for the workforce.
Their time spent volunteering will produce better outcomes (adoptions) if they have good communication skills. Here are some top social skills from my book to ensure teens maximize the chance of an animal getting adopted, and master important social and job skills:
1. Smile and Say Hello:
When you see another person, whether a co-volunteer, staff member or visitor, smile and say “Hello”. Your smile will set the tone for positive future interactions and brighten the person’s day. It may even lead to an animal getting adopted or a financial donation. It all starts with a smile!
I used to volunteer at an animal shelter walking dogs. Often I would be in the back of the shelter bringing a dog in or taking one out. There would be people in the back of the animal shelter looking for animals to possibly adopt. I would smile and say “Hello”. I’d ask if they had questions about any of the dogs I walked. Often they would. After telling them about the animals, I’d suggest they spend time with any animal they were interested in. About 70% of the time they’d end up adopting an animal just because I engaged them and was able to provide helpful information. You can do the same thing!
2. Turn Off the Electronics:
When you are volunteering, keep your phone at home, or turned off, on silent or vibrate mode, and out of sight. This is part of being a professional volunteer and lays the foundation for good work habits.
Social skills are especially difficult for teens on the autism spectrum, but many of these skills can be learned, and with practice, can become habit. Social skills are critical to make friends, get a job, and to live a fulfilling life. Research from Harvard University says social skills are the top factor for getting a job.
Share the following book excerpt with your son or daughter to give them a head start in mastering these important social skills.