The Benefits of Synchronized Genuine Smiles in Face-to-Face Service Encounters

K. Kim, M. Eckhardt, N. Bugg, Rosalind W. Picard


This paper examines the role of facial expressions in dyadic interactions between a banking service provider and customer. We conduct experiments in which service providers manipulate their facial expressions while interacting with customers in one of three conditions: In the neutral condition the banker tried to maintain a neutral facial expression; in the smiling condition the banker tried to smile throughout the interaction; in the empathetic condition the banker tried to respond with the same or complementary facial expressions. Results show that the customers (n=37) were more satisfied with the service provider interaction when they perceived the service provider was empathetic. More significantly, the service provider and customer shared synchronized genuine facial expressions with many prolonged smiles, when customers said the service provider was empathetic. According to the analysis based on what actually happens in the interaction, smiling banker without sharing smiles with customers was appraised worse than non-smiling banker.

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