Want your customers to have a better experience? Instead of trying to train your employees to smile, just hire happy people.
Apparently, you don’t have to be an expert in reading faces to tell the difference between a real smile and a “social smile.” The latter is what facial coding experts call the smile we use when it is socially appropriate to smile but we aren’t really filled with delight. In a social smile, we form a smile with our mouth but far fewer facial muscles are engaged. In his new book About Face, Dan Hill (who actually IS an expert in facial coding) reports:
Participants watched previously videotaped interactions that, unknown to them, had been staged between a hotel check-in clerk and a would-be guest. The variable was that for some check-in enactments the actress playing the clerk was invited to feel, then project, genuinely positive feelings toward the guest (true smiles). In other cases, the actress was instead told she had to smile (social smiles). Observers of the respective videos find the service performed with a truer smile far more satisfying.
Another test found that restaurant patrons who felt that the servers displayed genuine positive emotions (i.e., true smiles) were far more satisfied with the service they had received.
The neuromarketing takeaway is that with enough training you may be able to get your service staff to smile on cue, but the customer won’t be fooled if those smiles aren’t backed up by true emotion. So, for those employees who will be in direct customer contact, be sure your interview process includes an evaluation of the emotions they project. A candidate who doesn’t display genuine positive emotions during the interview likely won’t in a customer service situation either.
[Image via Shutterstock]