Problem-solving goes a long way in customer interactions, according to new research by marketing professor Detelina Marinova. Marinova’s study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, found that prolonged smiling, apologizing and repeating positive phrases actually have negative effects on customer interactions. Instead of relational strategies, businesses should prioritize problem-solving.
Marinova and her team analyzed video footage of about 100 interactions between customers and employees in airports, examining the employees’ language and measuring customer responses based on facial expressions and other nonverbal cues. Then, they asked participants in a study to choose between various scenarios involving different customer service techniques. This research could be used to help businesses effectively train their customer service employees.
Marinova conducted the research in collaboration with Sunil Singh, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Nebraska, and Jagdip Singh, AT&T Professor of Marketing at Case Western Reserve University. The study, “Frontline Problem-Solving Effectiveness: A Dynamic Analysis of Verbal and Nonverbal Cues,” was recently featured in Harvard Business Review.