It is said that 85% percent of a message is something other than the words you speak. That includes your tone of voice, pace of speaking, eye contact, or body language. All these non-verbal communication factors (or “non-verbals”) can reinforce what you are saying, or could contradict your words.
Don’t Forget to Listen and Smile
Much of my career has been spent working with call centers like the IT Support Service Desk at Walt Disney World. That’s one work environment where you can really experience the power of more than just what is being said. Non-verbals are critical when the only way you are communicating with your customers is over the phone.
In order to improve the customer experience for that service desk, we spent time training all of our agents how to effectively listen and communicate a message using the proper words and tone of voice. Even when a customer would on occasion raise their voice, (yes, that even happens at Disney) we would stress the need to stay calm, actively listen, and let the upset customer vent.
I am a firm believer that you can hear a smile over the phone, so to encourage a positive tone of voice, we purchased small mirrors with the word “SMILE” written across the bottom to attach to the corner of each monitor in the call center. Combining the right words with a positive tone of voice helps customers trust that you’re going to help solve their problem – because of what you say, and how you say it.
Body Language Speaks Volumes
Have you ever been across the room watching two people engage in what appears to be an argument? Based on the body language alone, we make assumptions about what is being said. In reality, that “argument” could be two Dallas Cowboy fans lamenting the fact that their team blew a fourth quarter lead for the third week in a row. Keep in mind that that people are always watching you, and drawing their own conclusions on what is being discussed.
The Eyes Have It
Another aspect of body language that is an important part of face-to-face communication is eye contact. As part of my role with some of my clients, I conduct interviews for new employees. One of the things that would get a candidate scratched from my list of potential hires is a lack of eye contact. I am not suggesting that you should get into a stare-down with another person, but making regular eye contact during a conversation is a way to demonstrate you are listening and interested in the other person.
Find the Right Fit
There are several aspects of non-verbal communication discussed above that can enhance your message and improve your customer experience. Job satisfaction, or the lack of it, can also play an important role in empowering someone to go the extra mile.
We have all experienced employees at a store, doctor’s office, or other places of business when you could just tell they did not enjoy what they do. That is one thing that separates companies like Southwest Airlines, Disney, or Chick-fil-A from many of the others. Their employees appear to enjoy what they do and are happy to be serving you.
I just flew Southwest Airlines for business last week. On my return flight, there was a group of ladies in the two rows ahead of me heading out for a girl’s getaway weekend. They were having a good time! The flight attendant working our section was such a good sport. Even though it was a short flight, he took care of all their requests. I overheard him telling one of the ladies that he had retired from a leadership role with the airline and signed up as a flight attendant to have fun and see the country. He clearly loved what he was doing, and it showed.
I realize that not every day at the office is a party, but I always encourage people to find a job they enjoy at least four out of the five days of the workweek. Life is too short to spend the majority of your waking hours doing something you don’t enjoy. If you’re investing time in a job and a work environment that’s a good fit for you, things like smiling on the phone or actively listening to achieve the best possible result can be easily adopted to improve your customer experience.
Next week we will deal with Customer Turnoff 10: “Refusing to take responsibility for mistakes.”