Monday, February 5, 2018

Keep Smiles for Your Face, Not Your Emoticons

When the servers in the fine dining establishment drew a smiley face on the check at the end of the meal, as instructed to do by the University of North Carolina and Western Carolina University researchers, the tips were lower than those received by servers instructed not to add the hand drawn equivalent of an emoticon. The researchers interpreted this finding to indicate that the smiley face implied a level of informal familiarity which violated role expectations. Restaurant servers in fine dining establishments are expected to play a role clearly subservient to that of those being served.
     Subsequent studies at University of Amsterdam, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and University of Haifa indicate the explanation for the finding probably is not so straightforward: An anthropomorphized smiling face detracts from competence impressions. The tips might have been lower because the restaurant servers came across as less competent at the time when the diner was deciding how much to leave. These subsequent studies explored the first-impression effects of a smiley face emoticon in computer-mediated communications among strangers—the sort of use e-retailers might make. The finding: When a degree of sender-receiver psychological distance is expected by the receiver of a message, use of the smiley face emoticon, and probably most other emoticons as well, starts off the relationship wrong since it portrays immaturity.
     Putting this together with research findings from Stanford University, University of Minnesota, and University of Pennsylvania, I recommend taking particular caution in using emoticons if you’re a nonprofit. Consumers already begin with perceptions of such organizations as warmer than for-profits but as less competent. Since you’ve already earned the impression of warmth, you don’t need any boost from a smiley face. Further, the computer-mediated communications study found that the smiley face didn’t add much impression of warmth anyway.
     Also please keep in mind that a smile on your face generally gives a message to consumers vastly different than a smile on an emoticon. When the computer mediated communications researchers used a photo of a smiling face in the computer-mediated communications, recipients did have an impression of warmth. A genuine smile, whether in a photo or in person, projects hospitality and sincerity. Keep the smile gentle though. If you aim to make the arc on your lips as extreme as that on the best-known smiley face emoticons, the dopey look will almost surely erase any scintilla of competence.

For your success: Retailer’s Edge: Boost Profits Using Shopper Psychology

Click below for more: 
Keep Your Distance If Customers Expect It
Hook Up Shoppers with Cute Products
Creep Out Shoppers, But Explain
Saturate Your Store with Sweet Smiles
Dwarf Giant Smiles So You Won’t Look Dopey

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