Customer service employees, for the most part, are doomed to spending their hours wearing fake smiles and cheerful faces. In Japan’s Keihin Electric Express Railway, it gets worse: they make sure that the pretend geniality is as close to authentic as can be with “smile-checking” software.
Part of the morning routine for Keihin employees is to take a picture with the biggest smile they can muster. The photo is then picked up and processed by the company’s evaluation app, which compares each part of the service worker’s face with the ideal characteristics of a “high-quality smile”.
Grades are given for each part of the face, including eye movements, lip curves, cheek position and facial lines. The numbers are added up and rated on a scale of one to 100. Less-spirited grunts with low scores are instructed to keep adjusting their “smiling faces” until the software assigns them a passing score. Once they pass, they are given a copy of their “winning smile” so they can try replicating it throughout the day.
Can you imagine how a session like this might be like? “Your eyes are too wide when you smile. It looks fake. The software suggests to attempt squinting a little.” That’s a scene in a comedy film waiting to happen.
Seriously, though, I’d love to see the same software used across all customer service companies. Is it a pain in the ass for employees? I’m pretty sure it is. Imagine how good your day will be, though, if everyone you dealt with in the service industry had a shit-eating grin permanently plastered on their mug?