As retail stores begin to reopen and serve customers in a post-shutdown world, I’ve been pleased to see that most are requiring their workers to wear face masks, and most employees I’ve seen understand the need for additional safety measures on behalf of their customers and appear to grin and bear it.
Or at least I think they are grinning…
One of the drawbacks to wearing a mask that covers a person’s face and nose is that it makes it more difficult to read a person’s facial expressions. You can’t see if they are frowning, smirking, grimacing, or smiling.
Even the patented “customer service smile” that so many industry professionals were masters of pasting on their faces is rendered useless with the face mask. While a genuine smile creates tiny ripples of wrinkles and smile lines across the face — especially at the corners of a person’s eyes creating what is known as the Douchenne Smile — fake smiles (or let’s call them “polite smiles”) do not engage those other facial muscles and will remain hidden behind a standard face mask.
This situation may actually warrant some additional customer services training for your team in order to help them effectively get their winning personalities across to their customers.
Consider hiring an acting coach or a pantomime artist to come in and speak to your customer service team
Do a 30-60 minute workshop on how body language, tone of voice, vocal inflection, physical gestures, and other techniques can be used to make customers feel welcomed and valued as they begin shopping in-person once again.
I think the retailers that employ a creative approach like this will not only win their own customers back — I think they will win them away from other competitors who will not be perceived as being quite as friendly and helpful.
And if you don’t want to go through to all that “extra trouble*” perhaps you could at least get some face masks for your team that have smiley faces pre-printed on them, so they can literally “put on a happy face”.
Your customers are glad to start getting out of the house and returning to some sense of normalcy and familiarity. Business owners are happy to have people out shopping and grateful to see them spending money again — shouldn’t you do everything possible (*even if it means going through a little extra trouble?) to make certain your customers feel that happiness and gratitude?