Mixed Messages: Interpreting Body Language On The Sales Floor

When it comes to quality customer service, a key objective is to have a complete understanding of the customer as well as their needs and wants. Beyond the superficial aspects, such as whether they can financially afford a product or a service, a business must also understand the customer’s fears and aspirations. A well-researched customer persona contains the key to customer loyalty. How so, you ask? That is because a customer persona outlines how businesses can relate to their target consumers on a more human level. One way to ensure customer satisfaction is by brushing up on nonverbal communication, in particular on body language interpretation. Non-verbal communication is equally important as verbal communication; even if a customer is telling you one thing, they may actually feel completely different about that particular topic. They might be too nervous, distracted, shy, busy or awkward to communicate effectively. Tapping into your knowledge of body language can put them at ease. The ability to accurately read, assess, and respond to a customer’s body language is critical to building lasting relationships.

Here are three scenarios where a service representative must read the nonverbal cues and then proceed to effectively engage with a prospective customer.

Scenario #1: On the Shop Floor          

Scan your shop during a busy walk-in period and you will find more than one customer signalling how they feel- just by their body language.

If a customer seems to be avoiding eye contact, folding their arms across their chest, shuffling their feet and is generally fidgeting around- these are all signs of an extremely nervous or self-conscious individual.

On the other hand, a confident individual can be easily identified by their overall relaxed mannerism. They will not shy away from eye contact, will be the first to initiate a conversation or at least utter a greeting, and will keep their hands at their sides.

The best way to interact with a nervous shopper is by first greeting them, and then inquiring about what is on their shopping list. If they decline any support at that time, the next step is letting them know you are readily accessible- whenever the need arises. From time to time, try to guide them towards the products they are looking for.

Scenario #2: Follow the (Eye)-line

Take notice, albeit discreetly, of your customer’s gaze. What seems to be occupying their attention? The human eyes are extremely expressive and can reveal an individual’s true priorities. They may be asking the representative about one thing but their eyes may be searching for something else.  If you sense the customer’s eyes wandering towards the “25% Off” rack, its best to let them explore with minimal interruption.

Raised eyebrows can also indicate a range of emotions. Depending on the situation, they can represent surprise, fear, worry, or even speculation. If you notice the customer’s eyebrows raising, even for a moment, it is the right time to inquire how comfortable they are with your company’s services or products.

Scenario #3: Facial Expressions & Mirroring

In addition to eye-contact, facial expressions and mirroring also provide incredible insight into how to best satisfy a customer in face-to-face interactions. Whether you are in a retail or office setting, observing your customer’s facial expression can help you determine what the customer is actually feeling. Imagine if mid-conversation, as you are explaining something to the customer, suddenly their facial expressions start changing from interested to distracted or tense. You may notice the following happening on the customer’s face: clenched jaw muscles, furrowed eyebrows, rapid blinking, and pursed lips. There can be many reasons for the change in facial expressions, from a misunderstanding to an unrelated emergency. It is important that you acknowledge this in a professional manner. You can pause the ongoing conversation, and then inquire whether everything is okay or if the customer would rather talk about something else instead.

If you notice the customer gesturing or leaning inwards, just like you are, that is a positive sign. This type of unintentional replication, also known as mirroring, indicates that the customer is connecting with you and is pleased with the overall conversation. A company representative that is well-versed in reading nonverbal cues is more likely to build a positive rapport with their customer base.

Emotional Intelligence

As an emotionally intelligent professional, you are expected to be able to interpret emotions; more specifically, both your own emotions as well as those of your customer’s. With a well-honed EQ (emotional intelligence), you can take your awareness of the other person’s feelings and accordingly provide support that is both empathetic as well as effective. It makes good business sense to invest in customer service training sessions, especially those that focus on building emotional intelligence in customer-facing roles.

A simple formula is all one needs to gainfully maneuver nonverbal communication:  body language equals attitude. Non-verbal communication has a significant role in customer service, maybe even more than verbal communication. Training customer service employees to accurately identify body language cues is essential for sustainable customer service success.

CustomerService.Ae Signs On As Official Media Partner For OPEX 4.0 With IQPC Middle East

Dubai, U.A.E.: August 8, 2018 –   CustomerService.ae, a project of LiveAdmins DMCC, has entered into a media partnership agreement with IQPC Middle East for OPEX 4.0.  The conference will take place from 17 -19th September, 2018 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Operational Excellence 4.0 plans to address technical challenges in the business world while showcasing companies that are establishing newer, more efficient operating models to stay competitive.  The three-day conference includes collaborative brainstorming sessions, within interactive discussion groups led by expert facilitators, to help participants achieve OPEX 4.0.

The event will bring together leading experts in operational excellence and operations management from across the globe. The CustomerService.ae team will also be in attendance at the event.

About CustomerService.ae

CustomerService.ae is the only resource in the GCC region which publishes best practices, expert interviews, in-depth articles and industry reports to enhance customer experience for all types of businesses. It is also offering all-in-one social media management, training programs and DIY productivity games for customer service departments.

Defining ‘a Job Well-Done’ in the Workplace

What is meant by the phrase ‘a job well-done’? For most managers, a job well-done is when an employee successfully delivers on an assigned task. However, there are instances when the employee’s performance is dismal or downright disappointing. There can be a number of reasons for this particular outcome. Perhaps the initial instructions lacked clarity or the employee has been inadequately trained. It may be that they are feeling stressed or demotivated and that is hindering their on-the-job performance. Such situations demand that the manager step up and investigate what is holding their team back from giving one-hundred percent.

Here are some techniques that leaders can adopt for a healthy and productive working environment:

Reward Desirable Behavior

The first step in achieving full team productivity is clearly communicating the desired outcome. Whether this communication is written, verbal or a combination of the both, you must also receive an acknowledgement from each team member about the assignment.

The next step is to reward desirable behaviour in the workplace via positive reinforcement. After identifying where an employee or a group of employees have ‘dropped the ball’, the manager must convert those observations into learning moments. Just as importantly, a team lead should openly recognize all work done right and on-time.

Positive reinforcement develops an individual’s confidence by indicating what works well and what requires improvement.  It makes them feel good about the work they do, boosts their self-esteem and encourages creativity within the work environment. When there is a lack of positive reinforcement by management, there is a greater chance of job dissatisfaction.

Provide Engaging Training Experiences

Part and parcel of workplace leadership is enhancing your team’s skills through a variety of tools. Whether or not your direct reports are in a formal customer support role, they can all benefit from a customer service training module. Interactive training programs, especially when they are coupled with games, allow teams to solve blind spots without boring the participants. According to a DigitalChalk survey, close to 80% of learners believe they will be more productive if their work was more game-like. Training programs can also be customized to fit a particular team’s learning requirements.

Encourage Team Bonding

Believe it or not, team building experiences actually deliver results! Office-sponsored sporting events, department-wide picnics or holiday barbeques – all of these activities encourage team-building in a neutral, stress-free environment. Team bonding activities, like surviving an escape room or playing a soccer match, capitalize on what experts call the ‘power of play’.  Team members get to explore and test out group dynamics without posing a risk to the business or the bottom-line! Who is a natural-born leader? Which group of professionals adapt the best in a rapidly changing and competitive environment? You can find all of this out and more while building trust within the ranks.

Use Incentives (Sparingly)

Supervisors should exercise caution and restraint while leveraging both monetary and non-monetary incentives. There is no doubt, provided conditions are ideal, that incentives can successfully motivate employees. The reason for caution is the risk of sending the message that employees should only put the effort in for a perk or a bonus. True professionals will do their utmost on every assignment, whether or not there is a direct incentive involved. Bonuses and perks should reinforce positive on-the-job performance without undermining routine office work.

Provide Actionable Feedback

Management experts keep telling us to give our team members feedback and we all have various ways to do so, including performance reviews. However, not all feedback is created equal. When gearing up to provide feedback, remember that it should be constructive, not critical and provide the recipient with a roadmap for improvement. The right type of actionable feedback can boost employee-manager relations and improve the concerned employee’s task execution.

Behind every laudable moment, every ‘job well-done’, is hours and hours of hard work, collaboration, and trust-building. It is when a team leader and their colleagues work in unison that significant business goals are met. All workplaces can stand to benefit from regular appraisals and tweaks to their employee engagement strategy. Invest in your team by hosting enjoyable team-building workshops and over time, you are bound to see a substantial return in engaged, self-motivated employees.

Win Over Shoppers the Smart Way

When it comes to customer experience, retailers face numerous challenges relating to staff, inventory, returns policy and more. The real heros of a business are their staff members when they consistently make life easier for customers.  With effective and regular customer service training, retail staff can deliver customer service excellence. If the staff is under-trained, apathetic or unmotivated, it falls upon the store management to get them up to the mark. The idea is to invest in people as much as in the latest machines and gadgets.

Inventory Management

The first step towards improving your potential customer’s in-store experience is maintaining a steady inventory. While it is impossible to have every item in stock all the time, managers must stick to a reliable inventory management system. Some larger retail stores are even testing out day-time stocking pilot programs to better facilitate their customers. An alternative solution can be offering factory-to-doorstep  delivery service for in-demand products, such as toys around the winter holiday season.

Retail Payments

Has it ever happened that you happily take your item to the checkout counter, hand over your credit card and they return it back to you saying their machine is not working? This is another issue which happens occasionally in retail stores. You will want to ensure that every machine is in perfect working order  throughout the day so that your customers do not end up leaving your store empty-handed.

Employee Motivation

One of the main challenges that retailers regularly face is employee motivation. It may be that their staff members are overworked, disinterested or just undertrained. Custom-tailored customer service training programs can boost employee morale, increase productivity and improve their professional skills set. Understaffing is another issue at stores. The inability to find a sales representative while at a store is a strong reason for an overall drop in sales. A retail store must maintain the optimum number of staff members at all times.

Provide Excellent Customer Experience

Keeping a laser-focus on customer engagement is a smart way for stores to significantly improve their brand’s customer experience. Staff should be proactive and friendly, both online and offline. As soon as a customer walks into the store, your staff should take the initiative to greet the walk-in customer. This does not mean that salespeople should hover around the customer and not give them any space. Instead, they should be able to study the customer’s body language, and step in for assisting them at the right time.

Training Opportunities

There are many options for retailers looking to select a customer service training program for their employees. A store manager can choose to incorporate game-based learning into a quarterly ‘away day’ to develop the team’s on-the-job soft skills, such as communication or critical thinking. This methodology makes training fun and more engaging. Refresher courses should also be conducted at regular intervals to keep employees up to date on product knowledge and the brand’s customer experience philosophy.