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The Smiley Face Index: The One Metric Your Contact Center is Missing

There are a lot of metrics out there that measure customer satisfaction—CSAT, Net Promoter Score (NPS), even First Call Resolution (FCR). The way they measure satisfaction is different, but the end result is the same—to make sure the customer is happy.

But what if I told you there was a metric that could do nothing but measure a customer’s happiness, one that tracked their satisfaction through every interaction?

There is, and it’s called the Smiley Face Index (SFI).

What is the Smiley Face Index?

The Smiley Face Index isn’t meant to displace other more complex metrics.  Rather, it’s just the simpler way of looking at customer satisfaction that we sometimes need. It literally measures the number of smiley faces exchanged by a customer and agent during a web-chat or text message interaction. Simply put, more smiley faces = more happy customers.

Smiley Index 

Smiley faces are symbols that have meaning—they show how happy or excited we are. And while The Smiley Face Index might not be as all-encompassing or sophisticated as other metrics, it is a great way to get a feel for current customer sentiment, and also assess agent performance in real time.

For example, if Agent A is has 10 interactions with customers and none of the customers send smiley faces, that could mean one of two things: either they didn’t feel like sending a smiley face, or the service provided didn’t warrant a smiley face.

However, if Agent B has 10 interactions with customers and 7 out of 10 send smiley faces, then, as a contact center manager, you can tell that that agent is doing something right. That’s not to say that Agent A isn’t doing a good job—it just means that Agent B is doing something that warrants smiles from customers.

And you can bet that even if a customer is prompted to give a smiley face, they’re certainly not going to unless it’s merited. However, it’s good to remember that women are twice as likely to use emoticons as men, as found in a study from Rice University.

We’ve even seen some companies close out their support tickets/sessions by simply asking “Have I made you :) or :( ? Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Ultimately, if no agents are getting smiley faces, it could be an indicator that the current level of service is worth putting some thought into.

What makes SFI different from other metrics

While the Smiley Face Index can be subjective, it is a quick, practical tool that you can use right away to get a quick “thermometer-read” at any given time - real time...like the heartbeat monitor of happiness.

You see, the point of the Smiley Face Index isn’t to get the most smiley faces—it’s to provide such great service that you make your customer smile. A lot of other metrics and measurements around customer satisfaction don’t address that—they deal strictly with numbers and scores, with definitions and averages.

The genius of the Smiley Face Index is that it eschews all the common call center metrics (which are all very important, don’t get me wrong) to focus on the importance of pleasing customers and making it a daily focus. It literally tracks whether or not the experience you’re providing can garner a  smile. If you review a digital interaction ending in a smiley face, you can see what was so good about it and build off of that. Was it resolved on the first try? Was it handled in under X minutes? You can learn from that experience to build better ones.

Service with a smile

One of our clients, a staffing agency, decided to offer customers the ability to text after using a clunky IVR for several years. They let customers channel pivot from voice to SMS and were able to deflect over 40% of calls to SMS.

Kindness has been shown to be contagious, so if one person is happy and shares that (ie a customer), it will make the agent happy as well. Positive feedback is shown to be “more effective in goal pursuit”, which we could build on to mean that tracking SFI could help agents do their job better. In fact, studies have found that positive people are also better at solving problems.

Another one of our clients, a health and wellness company, deployed SMS support for their VIP users. The users were ecstatic about being able to text for support, saying things like “I love it” or sending a smiley face. In this case, the new users were shown something happy (a new service that was a benefit of their membership) and were excited to start using it (saying, “this is crazy awesome!”). In addition, a smiley face :-) is the most-used emoticon, and agents who use emoticons are more likely to receive higher scores than agents who don’t use emoticons. That could be because “the emoticon is arguably a linguistic strengthener that enhances the recipient’s understanding of the tone behind the text.”

Simply put, happiness (and smiles) broaden your mind.

There are plenty of examples of customer experiences that have made customers smile—what makes customers happy will ultimately vary by industry or channel. However, the Smiley Face Index should, at the very least, be a new way of looking at something, or at the very best, be a force for galvanizing change and prioritizing happiness, for your customers and your agents.


Now, The Smiley Face Index isn’t meant to replace traditional metrics, nor should it. It’s supposed to be another perspective on achieving what should be each contact center’s ultimate goal—making the customer happy.

So, are you delivering service worth smiling about?