There are many ways that we communicate, often without being aware of the fact. It is important therefore, that with any side of customer service, your team members are aware of communication that occurs at different, often subtle, areas.
The writer has worked in many areas of retail and has often cringed when watching a customer service representative interact with a customer. For example, I have witnessed that sigh that they make, the tone of the voice used and the avoidance of eye contact; all of this communicates a message to the customer and will subconsciously be picked up. This could be why a customer stops visiting.
Body language also plays a large part in how someone communicates. The way they may stand, how they use their hands and, as mentioned before eye contact. Another important factor is atmosphere. The writer has walked into retail establishments where the atmosphere is one of ‘this job would be OK accept for the customers’; you can feel it in the air and one experience of this is enough for someone to never return. Waitstaff shaking their heads or rilling their eyes when they leave a table will often be noticed by customers. It is amazing to see waitstaff do this and not think that they will be noticed.
Music in establishments is another way for a business to communicate. What does the music say and does it feel like it is there for the benefit of the staff rather than the customer. A company’s website is also a clear communicative channel. If the website is not professional or not easy to navigate then the customer may feel that the shop itself is the same.
The writer once went to a restaurant with great food but very poor customer service skills; I never go there again. On the contrary, I went to a restaurant where on one occasion they completely failed at the food level but where so apologetic and nice about the whole affair, that we have become regulars – and the food quality and been fantastic. The approach to the customers communicated everything about your business in one setting. If staff are rude, then the customers will see the business as rude and will therefore not return. This will also affect how they feel about branches in different part of the country; that one slip up can tarnish the entire business.
Nonverbal communication involves body language, visual presentation and other factors. The writer recently had a bank meeting in an shabby office with a desk that was falling apart! this does not communicate a successful bank that will take care of me!
In any customer service area, nonverbal communication is often the most important factor, as this will be the first thing a visitor will see when they encounter your business. Get the nonverbal communication right and the rest should follow.