*Offering service with a smile may be more than just a snappy catch phrase. Your staff’s smiles can affect revenue and satisfaction, even if no one can see it. In our world of e-commerce, it can be easy to forget the importance of a good smile even though it is a driver to employee happiness and great business-customer relationships.
The Duchenne Smile
Authors often use the sentence that describes a smile as not reaching the eyes. Even Steven King used it in his novel “Christine.” They use this imagery to describe duplicitousness and often insanity. In general, human beings can tell the difference between a real smile and a fake smile and they react very strongly to an inauthentic smile. A genuine smile, called a Duchenne smile, uses the muscles around the eyes, the same ones that cause crows’ feet. These muscles are difficult to engage consciously, so it is relatively difficult to fake. The Duchenne smile is hardwired into our brains. There is even some debate whether happiness causes the smile or the smile causes happiness. The integrated nature of an authentic smile makes it a full-body experience that cannot be faked or forced.
Cloud-based contact centers have multiple ways of communicating with customers. Some of them involve video cameras where the consumer can see the smile on the representative’s face, but most are digital like voice over IP telephone or live chats. Even with these formats, it is possible to transmit a smile and a real sense of friendliness. Research into a variety of industries has shown that people value friendliness almost as much as they do a positive resolution to the problem.
Linked to the Duchenne smile, friendliness is organic. Friendly people smile and people that smile tend to be friendly. If your customer care staff is not smiling, it is an indication that they are not happy. This will be communicated to the consumer in a number of subtle ways, including micro inflections that will only be heard on a subconscious level.
The authenticity of the representative’s response directly predicts the customer’s perception of the capability of the representative. When a customer believes that the representative is truly genuine with his or her emotions, the customer will rate the abilities of the care representative as higher than those that are not authentic. Being able to see the person does not effect this interaction. This is just another example that shows that satisfaction and all of the things associated with a smile cannot be feigned.
This places a large burden on the management to create a positive environment where the staff can find true satisfaction. As a business owner, the requirements shift from simply telling staff to smile to one where you look at the structure of your company. Examine perks and other cost effective ways of increasing worker satisfaction.
Brain and Smiling
The good news is that you do not need to thrill your staff 24/7, showering them with gifts and compliments to make them happy. True satisfaction, the kind that is associated with the Duchenne smile, has a lasting effect on the brain. Every genuine smile that your staff makes will permanently rewire their brains and make it easier to achieve and sustain this level of contentedness. This will translate into an e-smile, perceptions of friendliness and authenticity, and a greater client satisfaction for your customer care center.