Hello shoppers...

The point has been made many times in these blogging pages - most recently with Monday Morning Reaction: 20 Reasons To Smile, The Smile Project and The Death Of Billie Sue Mafuta - that seeing a smile on an employee's face can a) dramatically and positively impact our attitude as we shop; b) increase the amount we spend in that store; C) improve the chances that we return to that store; D) improve the chances that we'll tell others about our shopping experience; E) decrease the chances that the store will get blasted in a Secret Shopper review.

Considering the overwhelming amount of research on the subject - and based upon what our heart, gut and instinct tell us, that of COURSE smiling all the time, everywhere, is good for everybody, duh! - you'd think that more business owners and managers would insist that their employees smile til their faces hurt, would train daily on it til they were hoarse, to the point where we saw a helpful smile in every aisle of every retail environment we entered, and anyone caught frowning, would be subject to a fine, jail time, or being forced to join the Culver For Governor campaign.

Yet the numbers tell a different story.

From the same zip code of points just made, comes another, in the nearby community of Reality, which says - according to results from The Des Moines Customer Service Survey - that we see a smile on an employee's puss, about 2/3 of the time:

From the survey...


Generally speaking, do employees who interact with you at businesses in the Des Moines area, smile at you?

Yes: 65.8%

No: 34.2%


Well that's no fun.

Yet the reason why we see less smiles than we should, might be attributed to something other than just the fact that the person isn't a happy camper.

The point was made, in Is That Processing On Your Face Or Are You Just Unhappy To See Me? , that when we are deep in thought, or performing a task, or day-dreaming, the look on our face may not be terribly accurate, as to how it reflects our feelings in that moment of rumination.

I've been looking for a graphic example of this for weeks, and suddenly, voila! There it was, a series of photos that dramatically show what I'm blog blatherin about - appearing this past Saturday, June 19th, on the front page of the Iowa Life Section in The Des Moines Register, alongside a wonderful story written by Jennifer Miller, a very talented Register writer.

Picture #1, which was poorly scanned and even more poorly aligned, below...


Here's the accompanying caption:

Folk singer/songwriter Chad Elliott performs for a house party at the Des Moines home of Bonita and Keith Crowe. The Crowes, who operate The GrapeVine and Da'Vine Entertainment, host four to six concerts per month.

Okay, cool beans - here's this hip group of a half-dozen fun-loving people, sipping wine and listening to nice guitar music and sweet vocals, in the wonderfully cozy confines of someone's living room.

And yet...notice anything about the faces of those in attendance?

Correct - no one is smiling.

Sure, you can probably make the case that the woman whose back is to the window, perhaps has a scoche of a marginal grin - and maybe the mouth of guy to the left, with his hand on his chin, is showing the slightest upturned edges in the corners.

But let's be honest. With plenty of alcohol, lots of music, chilled out peeps gathered after work in a relaxed vibe in a crib in the 'burbs, we should be seeing a room full of pleasant grins. Instead, most everybody looks like they're waiting to have root canals. Put your hand over-top of Chad Elliott, the guy singing - no, not that hand, the other one...there ya go. You'd think that instead of a guy with a guitar, it was me with a razor, demonstrating how I shave my back.

Yet assuming that Chad's voice doesn't sound like a cat passing a kidney stone, and that the wine bottles aren't full of room temperature under-sweetened cherry Kool-Aid, then why the long faces?

Simple - because everybody's watching and listening, and processing what they're seeing and hearing.

You can bet your Bordeaux that if we Q and A'd the people in the room and asked them what they were feeling at the moment the pic was snapped (I considered looking up their names in the phone book and doing just that, but people already think I'm weird) they'd tell us that they were happy then and there, totally into the music and the moment.

Exactly. We lose track of our face, because we're keeping track of something else - in this case, a performer, and an experience.

In the case of an employee, that person might be putting clothes on a display, ringing up items at a register, doing the books, checking in inventory, cleaning a counter, and a myriad of other tasks that fill their day at work.  While those left-brain actions are being completed, the employee loses track of their right brain emotional face, even as shoppers seek those same faces out. Anything less than an employee smile, is a frown to our eyes. And while that's perfect for processing, it's bad for business.

What's good for business? Take a look...


Wow. Talk about a face that could sell a lot of wine - or anything else.

Compare this pic, to the one above it - same woman, this time far left. Wow II - stunning difference, wouldn't you say?

So what's the situational dif? She's directly engaged with a person vs. passively processing an idea.

The difference in a retail showroom would be a salesperson selling a $20,000 boat vs. the janitor sweeping the space where the boat was sitting.

Smiles matter. They matter a lot, to those who smile, and the smile's recipients. Learning how to smile a lot, is a process. Learning how to smile when we are processing, is a talent. Smiling, regardless of when or where or why or to who, is a gift that everyone gets to unwrap.

So print off these two pictures, hand them to your favorite business owner/manager, and tell him/her to hang these/them where every employee can see the photos as they walk out onto the retail floor, along with the caption, "See the difference? So will they."

And we will.

Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT. Email Jonnie at jonniewright@thebuyosphere.com.

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