Nonverbal Communication in Customer Dealings

nonverbal communication in customer dealings

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”The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Peter F. Drucker

Nonverbal communication is a highly interesting realm, apart from being extremely important. It plays a vital role in the workplace and particularly when the job involves dealing with external customers. When a customer service agent is interacting with a customer, nonverbal communication helps them know if they are listening with an aim of understanding.

A person proficient in this communication manner is more successful in managing relationships than someone who relies on the spoken word only. When you’re dealing with customer service, you can use tools like Interactive decision trees.

Types of Nonverbal Communication

If the customer interaction happens over the telephone and the customer service agent is not paying attention, the chances of a breakdown in communication are less. The eyes and facial expressions are not visible to the customer. A lack of interest is evident if the agent is not smiling while talking or has attention diverted to other activities. The customer can comprehend that the agent is bored or lacking empathy if they use rote sentences with practiced monotones. Despite using the ‘standard’ methods of communicating, the lack of added nonverbal communication has the potential to disrupt a conversation. It can be irritating even to a relatively even-tempered customer.

Facial Expressions

While communicating in person, the eyes, hand movements and facial expressions of the people involved can convey a great deal. If the agent or company representative has a bored expression or is rolling their eyes or continuously gazing in another direction, the customer will pick these nonverbal indications and know that they are ignoring them. These expressions are extremely audacious and rude. They should be avoided at all costs. Customer service representatives and all members of an organization need training in mastering nonverbal communication. When speaking, making reasonable eye contact, smiling when required, and a nod of the head are indicators that the listener is attentive. They are taking in the information with the aim of dealing with it.

Hands Movement

Another important method of communicating nonverbally is the use of hand movements. Hand gestures are common and people use them to get across the point they are making. Measured and appropriate hand gestures complement the point being made. An example of a hand gesture that signifies closure and no interest is crossing arms across the chest. It shows that there is no agreement with what the speaker is saying. It can also seem as challenging the words of the speaker. Crossing one’s legs or swinging them around are other nonverbal communication signs. It indicates disinterest and even irritation with what the speaker is saying. Imagine the reaction of a customer if they pick up these nonverbal cues. You can be sure of ‘hearing’ from them in more ways than one. None will do much for your company’s reputation.

Body Language

Customer service representatives need to be particularly mindful of their body language. Each subtle movement can convey a feeling contrary to what they are saying with their words. Requisite training will help them know what open and engaging body language is. It can help further a conversation and benefit the company they represent.

Proficient customer service professionals handle successful customer service and are aware of the nonverbal communication that takes place between them and the customers. The tricky part of these unspoken signs is that very often, they are impossible not to put across. They ‘slip by’ and convey things beyond the spoken words. Customers constantly pick up and evaluate these nonverbal signs. They will have adverse reactions if they aren’t engaging. If your nonverbal communication is damaging, no amount of words can salvage your customer’s feelings about you and the company you represent.

Understanding customer diversity

In an earlier exposition, we discussed the importance of being aware of diversity when dealing with customers. A thorough understanding of nonverbal communication is extremely vital when dealing with customers from different backgrounds, ethnicity, genders, etc. If your words and nonverbal signs are contradictory, you will end up confusing the customer and causing a communication breakdown.

Let’s look at an example. There was a customer service manager who was habituated to crossing his hands over his chest and looking at the floor, especially when he was listening intently. The staff was aware of this and was in fact, happy when he took that stance. Strange habit! However, it was disastrous when he used the same ‘expressions’ with a customer. He was rather annoyed at a previous service lapse. These were nonverbal cues that he didn’t care about and was only standing there because he had to. The customer left, wrote a strongly worded letter describing the ‘incident’, and never returned. Whew!

By being aware of the potential consequences of nonverbal cues and the customer, it is possible to increase the effectiveness of each interaction and raise the level of customer experience. Great customer service is about being aware of a lot more than just words, rote scripts, and product knowledge. Feelings get conveyed through nonverbal communication. These signs almost always override what is being actually spoken, especially when the conversation is emotionally charged, as in the example above.

Good communication skills

Customer service representatives must remember that when dealing with customers or potential ones, it is essential to have impeccable communication skills. This includes both verbal and nonverbal communication. It is no wonder that despite ‘saying’ all the right words after the conversation, the customer may still remain unconvinced and even become angrier. You guessed it! The nonverbal cues were less than satisfactory. Nonverbal communication carries extremely vital and forceful messages and is easily misinterpreted if used incorrectly. The other difficulty with these unspoken signs is that they are highly subjective. Individuals may interpret them differently based on personality, culture, education, upbringing, and many such factors that define a person.

However, what customer service agents need to learn and remember is the different nonverbal cues. Different cultures may interpret them differently other factors that encompass diversity. It is extremely difficult to rebuild broken-down communication and customer relationships. Hence, preserving them at all costs becomes an indispensable responsibility.

Why Nonverbal Communication is Important?

Nonverbal communication is a direct result of listening. If the person is listening with an aim of understanding and wanting to help, that reflects nonverbal communication. Nonverbal responses connect with what a person is actually thinking. Improving one’s listening skills can significantly improve and suitably convey the right emotions and expressions. Each person in the company, and especially the customer service representatives must make it their responsibility to learn and increase awareness of their nonverbal communication. If each person takes individual responsibility, the overall level of customer service and team interactions can significantly improve. It can lead to better results for the company. As interactions get better, there is a build-up of confidence and trust in the customer. The end result is customer loyalty.

Nonverbal Communication In A Workplace

In the workplace, keeping an awareness of nonverbal cues will tell your customers, manager, peers, and others that you care. It will be easier for an individual to convey how they actually feel about a situation. Gestures and facial expressions convey much more than an individual may want to, especially when there is a ‘conflict’ between verbal and nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is an effective method of reinforcing and strengthening the words spoken. A firm handshake, a warm smile, and appropriate eye contact are all nonverbal cues. They can help even the shyest and most diffident speaker to convey positivity. Conveying confidence in this manner lets the customer know that they repose their faith in you. They will be more comfortable interacting with your company. We all know the cycle that follows from happy customers…………

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