Monday, July 26, 2021

Flirt with Deep Acting

Elaine Sciolino, based on her experiences while Paris correspondent for the New York Times, wrote that in France, marketing success depends on flirtation. Studies at Academic College of Tel Aviv and Ruppin Academic Center indicate that in Israel, flirtation might not be essential for positive customer service outcomes, but it makes them more likely. Tip amounts for restaurant servers were higher and reported salesperson-shopper rapport benefitted.
     The researchers defined flirting as social behavior which carries sexual connotations. Examples include compliments on personal characteristics, random or intentional touching, and lengthy stares. They recommend giving flirtation a whirl.
     A problem with this advice, of course, is that flirtation could easily stimulate the wrong kind of response from consumers, resulting in incidents of sexual harassment of your employees. It also can be perceived as sexual harassment by the consumers. After Ms. Sciolino published her observation about flirtation’s value, the 2011 Dominique Strauss-Kahn incident led to her adding a warning in the preface to her book. DSK, as the French economist prefers to be called, was accused of sexual assault in what he claimed was a misunderstanding of his behavior.
     Cultural expectations do matter. When Walmart opened stores in Germany, employees were expected to greet customer questions with a smiling, enthusiastic welcome. Shopper analyses showed that the customers thought this type of enthusiasm fit better with Oktoberfest than with a Walmart shopping fest. The customers felt the sales help were flirting with them. Walmart ended up leaving the German market.
     But another aspect of the Tel Aviv/Ruppin study does yield a valuable recommendation: Optimal yields from flirtation occurred when it was conducted with Deep Acting, defined as the service employee working to generate authentic positive feelings toward the target of the flirtation. This is distinguished from Surface Acting, in which the employee works to suppress any negative feelings toward the target and then to show positive feelings.
     Whether flirting or not, work to generate authentic positive feelings toward clients. After all, it’s their purchases which keep your business afloat or help pay your salary. Then in place of flirtatious behavior, you might choose to wear the proper T-shirt. Waitresses working in a set of five French restaurants were instructed to wear the same design T-shirt in one of six assigned colors. Those wearing red received tips 27% higher than with other colors. The difference was attributed to red as a sexual cue.

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