Service with a smile is the most famous mantra in customer service. This common-sense wisdom has also been confirmed scientifically many times. Genuinely smiling service staff has been linked to increased customer satisfaction and repurchase intentions.1
Responding positively to smiles is part of our mind’s software. When we see somebody smiles, so-called mirror neurones are activated. These neurones form part of the same pathway as the neurones that we use when we smile ourselves. This is the scientific explanation of why smiles are so contagious and why being around happy people makes us feel happy as well.
Many managers are aware of common sense and scientific evidence that smiling staff will increase their chances of achieving business objectives. However, some managers do not fully understand the theory and coerce their employees to smile. They publish written reminders about the importance of smiling. These managers pretend that they are in a theatre and segregate the ‘front stage’ from the ‘backstage’ and ask staff to behalf as if they are actors in play. These management approaches are not very effective and create a lot of emotional labour. There is, however, a very easy and cost-effective way to make sure your staff treat their customers very well.
The most effective and cheapest way to make your staff smile is by smiling at them and provide a fun workplace where people feel free to joke with each other.2 No need for expensive customer service seminars and propaganda, just being nice to your staff is the best investment a manager can make.
Sandra Gountas, Michael T. Ewing, John I. Gountas (2007), Testing airline passengers’ responses to flight attendants’ expressive displays: The effects of positive affect. Journal of Business Research (60) 81–83. ↩