In Canada, people are spoiled with the service at restaurants and stores. For the large part, employees are friendly, smiley, and ready to make the customer happy. After all, good service is good for business. And service-based companies know this.
For a long time, there has been a focus on training employees to be friendly! Use a nice tone! Make eye contact! Smile! “Service with a smile” is a slogan that’s common in North American business environments. New research1 tested whether it’s always true that employees needed to upturn those lips.
The testing took place in counter only-shops (coffee shops, pizzerias, sandwich shops).
One customer at a time went inside a shop implanted with two research assistants. The first research assistant monitored the employee and noted the eye contact, smile, and voice tone with the customer who was ordering the food (to evaluate “positive emotional displays”). After the sale, the second assistant accosted the same customer for a survey. The customer answered whether she was a repeat customer and importantly about her satisfaction level with the purchase. After answering some other questions, the customer walked away to eat her cold meal.
Overall, customers were definitely more pleased with their purchase when employees flashed those positive emotions. However, digging into the nitty-gritty showed that satisfaction ratings were pretty high whether or not the employees displayed those positive emotions with repeat customers! It was with new customers that “service with a smile” had the most effect with satisfaction.
So, let it be known! Employees can let down those smiles – sometimes.
1 Gabriel, A. S., Acosta, J. D., & Grandey, A. A. (2015). The Value of a Smile: Does Emotional Performance Matter More in Familiar or Unfamiliar Exchanges? Journal of Business and Psychology, 30, 37-50.