Granted a picture can say a thousand words, your body is just as chatty. Your mouth can be saying one thing but things like your facial expression and body positioning are also being heard loud and clear. Non-verbal communication is more effective and absorbed easier than verbal communication. For this reason, as a customer service representative, your body language can have an enormous effect on how your customer feels about you and also how they respond to your interactions.
This may seem daunting at first, however, with conscious effort we can all learn to control our body language. An exciting truth is that we can learn to use non-verbal communication to our advantage. In order to wield this skill successfully, you’ll need to understand what each facet in your language arsenal says about you. Only then can you determine when and where each can be implemented to improve your service excellence.
When you smile the world has no choice but to smile right back at you and it’s more involuntary than you might think. Emotions are the result of your body’s chemical response to external stimuli. When someone smiles at you, they can cause your body to release serotonin. This feel good hormone is responsible for happiness and optimism. If a customer wasn’t in an inviting mood before you can consciously change that, making him or her more receptive to what you have to say verbally.
What does this language arsenal say about you. In the first instance, a pleasant smile says that you are approachable. On a sales floor, when you see someone with a pleasant smile you are automatically drawn to them. You may even find yourself going to them for assistance even if you had not felt a need for help initially. It gives the impression that you are available and willing to serve them.
Humans have a natural tendency to mimic emotions. We see it often in a negative light where a simple disagreement can turn into a shouting match. Imagine then the effects of a positive emotion. Smiling says you are open and inviting. This can help a consumer build trust with you. When they feel that emotion they will tend to be open and inviting in return. This will give you the opportunity to get the interaction you need to service their need.
Although we can control these facial expressions, manipulating them is a caution that cannot be emphasized enough. Faking or forcing a smile to illicit a reaction out of someone is easily noticeable and destroys credibility. The idea is to allow yourself to smile not to force it out.
Maintain healthy eye contact
As children, many of us can remember parents and grandparents admonishing us to be honest and saying things like “a man’s word is his worth” or that your word should be your bond. We can also recall them questioning little ones about an act of mischief and telling them to “look them in the eyes” and tell the story. It may have seemed strange from the outside but your ability to look someone dead in the eyes when you speak to them is a mark of honestly. That makes eye contact another language arsenal that can be used to your advantage on the sales floor.
When you maintain eye contact with a customer, especially when explaining topics they have reservations about, it impresses on them that you are being honest and it builds their trust in you. Doing the exact same thing when they are talking to you, tells them you are paying attention to what they have to say. It shows you are interested in their point of view. It also shows you are focused on their interaction. This is an invaluable asset and should not be underestimated.
How much is enough and what exactly is too much. To say it plainly, maintaining an incessant gaze on someone creeps them out. Among the very few creatures that don’t blink are snakes. We can all agree that these creatures tend to be malicious and untrustworthy. Alternating your point of focus every ten seconds or so will put your customer at ease and is considered healthy eye contact.
It may seem like an insignificant gesture but the quality of your handshake can say a lot about you. A strong handshake denotes confidence and in sales a firm handshake can also give the impression of professionalism. This may be the first interaction you have with someone before you even open your mouth to speak, it’s in actuality your first impression and you get to decide if that impression is going to be good or bad. It is another tool in your language arsenal that must be wielded correctly to be effective.
The intensity of gestures used during communication can be greatly affected by culture. Some persons just naturally speak with their hands, however, it’s a skill that can be developed. We all use hand gestures to some extent but making a conscious effort to incorporate gestures into your speaking rhythm can actually increase your credibility and add clarity to any explanation. It can also impress on the customer that you believe the things you are saying and are passionate about what you do. It also gives your hands something to do so you don’t fall into the pitfall of fidgeting.
Touching your face, playing with your clothes or tapping can give a bad impression. For example, when you touch your face repeatedly during a conversation it can be misconstrued as a story that is less than truthful. Playing with your clothes or other objects can make you seem less confident in what you’re trying to relate and if you do this while someone else is talking it shows a lack of interest. By keeping your hands busy with the use of gestures you can make a great impression while you work the sales floor.
These are just a few ways non-verbal ways that you can enhance your performance while interacting with customers in a one on one setting. Used effectively, you can successfully offer not just great customer service but service excellence to each and every potential consumer that walks on to your sales floor.
Sources: CXService360, Livestrong, The Muse