Smiling With Customers

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Effective customer service usually relies on the artful interplay of verbal and nonverbal behaviors by service givers and customers. In the 2 decades since the publication of the influential bestseller

Service America: Doing Business in the New Economy (Albrecht & Zemke, 1985), the movement toward refining the behaviors of service employees spawned a flood of “consulting firms, and even professional societies and academic research programs” (Albrecht, 2008). One nonverbal behavior that has received much attention for its ability to influence customers is the smile. Long regarded as a persuasive tool, the infectious smile is “transforming a facial expression into a global industry” (Womack, 2004).

In this brief article, I discuss the psychosocial meaning of smiles and how service operations benefit from the smiles of their frontline employees. As well, I examine the challenge that the “smile requirement” imposes on some employees. Finally, I share one trainer/ consultant’s views on smiles and service training.



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