Does Your Customer Service Suffer From Resting Bitch Face (RBF Syndrome)?

The RBF Syndrome

S, The DiJulius Group customer service resting bitch face
customer service resting bitch faceS, The DiJulius Group
RBF Poster Girl Anna Kendrick

For those who may not be aware, RBF is a face that, when at ease, is perceived as angry, irritated or simply … expressionless. It is popularly known as RBF (resting bitch face). It is commonly caused when a person makes a face, unaware, when thinking hard about something, in a zone, but perceived as unapproachable. There is even a Public Service Announcement regarding RBF:

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Is RBF Syndrome Really a Thing?

It has gone from being a parody or joke to taken more seriously by individuals and businesses. Plastic surgeons say they are fielding a growing number of requests from those who want to surgically correct their “permafrowns.”

‘Resting bitch face’ is real, scientists say. David B. Givens, Director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington, calls the condition blank face and such people judge a neutral, expressionless face to be “unfriendly.”

Perception is Reality

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Whether you call it RBF or a serious face, it gives people a false perception of what our mood is. As science has long proved, people make judgments based on facial cues. Studies have found that people are less likely to find friendly looking faces guilty of crimes; people who look “happy” are generally deemed more trustworthy, too.

If You Are Happy, Tell Your Face

RBF is something to be taken seriously in all of our businesses, with any of  our Customer facing/interacting employees, whether it is face-to-face, ear-to-ear, or click-to-click. A smile is just as much a part of the uniform as anything else employees are required to wear: uniform, nametag, hat, and smile. Everyone should have a smile and it should be genuine. A smile shows teeth. In my companies, we have sent team members home for being “out of uniform,” for not smiling. I like to tell my employees, “If you are happy, tell your face.”

How to Determine Who Suffers from RBF in Your Customer Service

Many times it is good, happy employees guilty of RBF, however they are just not aware of the crime they are committing. I recently had my employees photographed in action, when interacting with a Customer, face-to-face, over the phone, or through email (yes, smiles can be heard over the phone and read in emails). I was shocked at the wide variety of facial expressions I saw. One thing was consistent, the team members who had smiles always had smiles, the ones who didn’t usually never did. The important thing to understand is, many of the employees who rarely smiled while interacting with Customers, demonstrating RBF, are just as nice if not nicer than the ones who consistently smiled during Customer interactions. However, that is not necessarily the perception the Customer or co-worker is having. When I showed my employees their RBF photos (i.e. serious, focused faces), they were horrified. They had no idea that is how they looked when they were dealing with Customers. It was something each of them wanted to change going forward.  Not particularly a fan of the term RBF, Buzzfeed created a list of 17 more accurate names for RBF.

The Best Way to Make Companies Grow is to Make Their Leaders Grow

In a few short years, Sheldon Harris rose from a front-line employee at customer service coach sheldon harrisCostco to being responsible for 350 employees and $160M in annual sales, overseeing operations in Alaska.  Sheldon also led diverse projects including spearheading Costco’s entry into the Russian market, and launching a new athletic club subsidiary, SportsNation.  From there, as President, he took a virtually unknown Cold Stone Creamery and turned 1400 stores operating domestically and internationally into the 11th fastest-growing franchise nationally.  Sheldon knows how to make companies grow — by making leaders grow.  Today, Sheldon is a Partner with CEO Coaching International where he coaches and leads entrepreneurs and executives in bringing out the best in their teams and organizations to achieve better results and greater success.  This includes diverse industries and business models — consumer retail, e-commerce, business-to-business sales, franchising, manufacturing and distribution, consumer lending, oil and gas, education, and executive recruiting.customer service coaching Sheldong Harris

Sheldon Harris Presenting at the 2016 Secret Service Summit 

Sheldon was last year’s #1 rated breakout speaker and our attendees asked for more. So we brought him back this year to be a main stage speaker. The DiJulius Group is thrilled to have Sheldon Harris presenting again at this year’s Secret Service Summit September 29th – 30th.

**Related – “Miracle on the Hudson” Speaker Also Presenting at the Summit

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.