18 February 2019
Will smiling staff increase sales in a weak retail market? Photos: Bloomberg, internet
Will smiling staff increase sales in a weak retail market? Photos: Bloomberg, internet

HK slumps to bottom on global smiling index

Sales clerks in Hong Kong shops are the worst in the world when it comes to greeting and smiling at customers, according to a global report.

The city ranked last in the latest customer service survey conducted by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association in 37 regions around the world, Apple Daily reports. 

In the smiles category, Hong Kong got a score of 48, the same as last year but down two rungs to hit the bottom. 

Ireland was on top of the list with the perfect score of 100. China was ranked 26th with a score of 83.

The report was compiled from 1.1 million shop visits across the world.

In Hong Kong alone, some 40,000 shop visits were conducted by 2,000 “mystery shoppers” across 41 industries.

Telecom services amassed 71 marks, leading other segments such as watches and jewellery and beauty and cosmetics.

Local forwarders and transport companies were given the lowest scores on the smiling index.

Explaining Hong Kong’s low score, association chief executive Anders Wong Siu-leung said frontline sales people are under pressure to meet quotas and targets, and this could be the reason why they find it hard to smile.

Wong suggested that employers pay close attention to staff emotions and nurture a happy culture.

In terms of greeting customers, Hong Kong and Macau were awarded the same score of 53 marks, ranking them last among 53 regions.

Guatemala in central America led the survey with a score of 100.

A nutritionist surnamed Chan said she agrees with the findings of the report, noting that salespeople in Hong Kong tend to ignore local shoppers and focus on mainland tourists.

A British national surnamed Mak, who was vacationing in Hong Kong, said shop clerks in the city seldom smile, unlike their counterparts in the UK.

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