Just grin and bear it: HK sellers worst smilers

Local | Adeline Mak 8 Apr 2016

Hong Kong salespeople and service providers are the world's worst smilers since they hardly smile according to the 2016 Smiling Report.

A worldwide survey by the Mystery Shopper Providers Association assessed smiling, greeting and upselling in 61 countries and regions after making 1.1 million visits to service providers and sellers.

Hong Kong was ranked last out of 37 in the smiling subcategory for the first time since 2010 when the survey was first conducted.

Hong Kong scored 48, compared to first-placed Ireland's 100 and the global average of 83.

Workers in the transport sector are the worst culprits, scoring 28. Telecommunications with 71 points has the most smilers.

Hong Kong also ranked last in a tie with Macau in greeting with a score of 53. For value-added service, Hong Kong ranked 18th with 52.

Ireland ranked first in smiling for the second straight year. China (83) was 26th and Macau (53) second to last.

Guatemala topped greeting (100) and upselling (93).

In the 2014 report, Hong Kong's score plunged 20 percent from 2013 and there was no significant improvement last year, while people in other countries were smiling more.

Hong Kong Mystery Shopper Service Association chief executive Anders Wong Siu-leung said the poor economy is a big reason behind the results.

He believes it places great pressure on frontline staff.

Wong added: "We can see vacant shops, and with salespeople having higher targets to reach, this leads to greater pressure and less smiles."

Wong also said staff do not have a sense of belonging and the turnover rate is high in service industries.

"Hong Kong lacks a happy culture what we have is a complain culture. Less attention is paid to the working atmosphere and the staff's feelings."

Wong said the telecommunications sector has made improvements in the corporate culture, leading to an increase in its score.

However, the jewelry sector is most affected by the economic downturn, which has led to a fall in its ranking.

Asked if the low ranking in smiling will affect the local economy, Wong said it may have a negative impact by leaving a bad impression on tourists and reducing sales.

Wong suggested companies improve on their corporate culture and working environment instead of just focusing on sales targets and revenue.

The fall in the stock and property markets dragged the retail industry, resulting in less commissions for salespeople, he added.

About 2,000 mystery shoppers paid around 40,000 visits to sales and service- provider industries in Hong Kong last year for the survey.

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