This research from Penn State suggests,
- The bigger a service-employee’s smile, the happier a customer. This comports with other research that has shown that the powerful emotions triggered when someone smiles at you and you smile in return can change your brain chemistry. You not only feel more optimistic and motivated, but also tend to remember such happy occasions more vividly.
- Genuineness of the service-employee enhanced the customer’s perceptions of friendliness, but only influenced customer satisfaction when tasks were well-performed and the customer’s major expectations of the product/service were met.
- Appearing inauthentic and fake-smiling undermined the assumed benefits of “service with smile.” Customers can spot insincerity in a smile when they see one. Inauthentic, robotic, and feigned friendliness can be a turn off for customers.
- Given that frontline service-employees represent a company to the public, mandating that employees must smile and appear friendly during their interactions with customers can backfire. The researchers suggest that companies hire happier employees and engender a work-environment that encourages genuine smiles and empowers employees to provide authentically pleasant customer service.
Genuine vs. Fake Smiles: The Science behind Your Smile
You can spot the difference between a genuine smile and a fake one. A genuine smile is also called the “Duchenne smile” after Duchenne de Boulogne (1806–1875,) a French neurologist who studied the association of facial expressions with the soul of humans.
- Scientific research has shown that Duchenne smile involves the voluntary contraction of the zygomatic major (the muscle that raises the corners of the mouth) and the involuntary contraction of the orbicularis oculi (the muscle that raises the cheeks and produces crow’s feet around the eyes.)
- In contrast, a fake smile involves the contraction of just the zygomatic major since the orbicularis oculi cannot be voluntarily contracted. A fake perfunctory smile is nothing but a manifestation of obligatory courtesy and politeness rather than one of inner joy.
Further, scientists believe that the two types of smiles are actually controlled by two distinct parts of the brain: the Duchenne smile is controlled by the limbic system (the emotional center of the brain) whereas the fake smile is controlled by the motor cortex.
Idea for Impact: Serve with a Big, Genuine Smile
- A genuine smile is an index of your happiness. Put in a little more delight into your smile. Reach out to others and give a little more of yourself by serving with a bigger smile.
- Don’t smile excessively. Although people like smiles but are rather distrustful of excessive smiling. Unless the source of your cheerfulness is genuine and noticeable, people will judge that your undue smiling is feigned—or that you’re smiling distastefully at some deficiency on their part.
- Engage your eyes for genuine smiles. If you’re forcing yourself to smile, you may be able to organize your lips and teeth into a smile, but you’ll not be able to get your eyes to coordinate.
- Try to smile even when you are feeling cranky or grouchy. A simple smile can relax your facial muscles and short-circuit your bad mood.