Body language provides an incredible amount of information on what other people might be thinking or feeling, after all it accounts for over 60% of communication. No matter what type of activity you are participating in, your body is saying a lot about you at any given point in time, cues arise from seemingly minor things like how quickly your movements are, where your legs are pointed and even the micro facial expressions you make.
Body language can heavily influence how customers feel about interacting with you, it plays an important role in your customer service career, and affects whether your customers’ have a positive or negative impression of you after an interaction. You can use body language to your advantage simply by mastering tips outlined in this post and applying it consciously to your interaction with customers.
Here are 10 Body Language Tips that will significantly improve the quality of your interaction with customers –
#1. Maintain Good Eye Contact
The eyes are an often overlooked communication tool, a lot of professionals fail to realize that as much as you listen with your ears, you should listen with your eyes also. Your ability to freely and naturally look someone in the eye is a reflection of confidence, attentiveness & sincerity, most people avoid eye contact because they are either lying, shy or distracted.
In customer service, maintaining eye contact with customers during interaction communicates to them that they are important, and you value whatever they have to say. Maintaining good eye contact doesn’t mean you should stare unblinkingly at your customers, such a stare would be uncomfortable, not to mention creepy. A great tip to maintain eye contact that feels natural and comfortable is to imagine an inverted triangle on the customer’s face, the bottom of the triangle should rest on the customer’s brow, with its apex ending at the mouth.
While the interaction lasts, alternate your gaze every 5 to 10 seconds from one point on the triangle to another. This will make your eye contact feel more natural & comfortable. If you combine good eye contact with nodding whenever you understand or agree with what the customer is saying, you will not only succeed in making the customer feel listened to, but you will also build trust. This creates a positive impression of your service and sets the tone for a healthy relationship and even more positive interactions.
#2. Avoid Excessive Movement (Don’t Fidget)
By all means, avoid fidgeting when interacting with your customers. It will never portray you in a positive light. Fidgeting is usually a sign of restlessness or discomfort, and will make customers feel there too many other activities going on in your head, or that you cannot wait for them to leave. It is also pretty distracting interacting with someone who keeps tapping their hands or legs on the table for no good reason.
If you find yourself fidgeting when interacting with customers, see it as a sign that you are not fully focused on the interaction. Stop and return your focus to the moment. Listen with your eyes, take in all the information the customer is sharing both from their words and body language.
This will take some practice but keep at it, you will notice an improvement in your ability to give customers full attention. This leads to higher quality interactions and more satisfied customers.
#3. Keep An Open Body Stance
An open stance is one in which none of your limbs are not crossed, and in which the body is ‘open’ & free of any barrier. This means your feet & arms are uncrossed and by the side of your body, and that you are not placing any object between yourself and the customer. Maintaining an open body language when interacting with your customers creates a welcoming and confident atmosphere, & subconsciously communicates to them that you are honest and trust them.
When interacting with your customers, eliminate as much barrier as you can between yourself and the customer. Avoid crossing your arms or legs whether you are standing or sitting. While this is not going to automatically turn your customers into raving fans, it would go a long way in positively improving their impression of you, as well as their attitude towards you.
This should be the easiest thing to do, but for some people, it doesn’t come that easily, and they miss out on the impact their smile could have had on others. Smiling has been studied and proven to have a positive effect on people, a genuine smile will make you instantly appear more positive and approachable.
While you interact with your customer, let your smile be genuine. A genuine smile should create wrinkles at the corner of your eyes, don’t force a smile, the customers will notice. Let it come naturally – if the customer says something funny, smile and laugh. If there is nothing to smile or laugh about, then keep a friendly neutral face. Customers will be drawn to you if they see you as being positive, friendly and approachable.
If you learn how to smile genuinely when interacting with customers, you will significantly increase the number of customers who feel happy with your service. (Read: 10 Signs You Need To Smile More)
#5. Makes Use of Gestures
Making deliberate use of gestures when interacting with the customers will make you a better communicator. You will speak more fluently and articulately. This, in turn, endorses you as a competent professional.
In an interesting study by the University of Gothenburg, three groups of subjects were asked to speak under different conditions. One group had both arms immobilized, the second group had one arm immobilized and the third group was free to gesture. The experimenters found that when gesture was restricted, fluency decreased. Another research which correlates this study also found that restricting hand gestures makes it more difficult to find the right words.
Gesturing is natural and you do it each time you interact with people. I only wish to encourage you, to make your gestures more meaningful. Use your hands to describe things or make emphasis. Don’t just allow your hands move around in the air meaninglessly when you speak, add meaning to what you do with them. For instance, if you are talking about something circular or round, describe it also with your hands. Concepts like increase or decrease can be gestured by slowing raising or lowering an arm. I recommend you check out this article on 20 Hand Gestures You Should Be Using.
Using gestures when communicating with your customers, will not only help you communicate better, it will also portray that you are confident and passionate about what you are saying.
#6. Learn To Use Your Voice
The pitch, volume, and tone of your voice affect the meaning of the words you say when interacting with people. It applies not only when you are interacting with customers in-person, but also when you do it on the phone or via writing. The wrong tone of voice when speaking with customers can stir negative feelings like; doubt, irritation, and anger.
No matter what it is you are saying, it is your tone that reveals how you feel, when you say them. Use your tone to express warmth, passion, humor, empathy or whatever emotion you want your customers to perceive. For instance – Use a soft, empathetic tone when interacting with customers who are angry or upset, it makes them feel heard, and they would be likely to open up more to you.
Your voice is a powerful communication tool, If the customers like the voice and how it sounds, they would form the impression that you are confident, knowledgeable and credible.
#7. Keep An Eye on Their Feet
You might not know, but the feet reveal a lot about a person’s emotional state. Weird right? But think about it, how often do you pay attention to people’s feet when they speak? The chances are that you rarely do because you are focused most of the time on the speaker’s upper body.
When customers are bored, anxious or feeling stressed, their feet are a good pointer to their emotional state. For instance, if you are interacting with a customer, and you notice they orient their feet towards the exit, it might be an indication that they are ready to leave, but when the feet are pointed towards you, it means the customer is engaged and interested in what you have to say. Check it this informative video below on reading feet.
By simply arming yourself with this knowledge, you will be in a better position to make good judgments during your interaction with your customers, simply by looking at their feet.
#8. Practice Confident Handshakes
Did you know that shaking hands makes you more memorable? According to a study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade – People are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. As a professional, you should always strive to the memory of your handshake a positive one.
How would you feel if you meet a well groomed, confident looking person, but when you shake their hand, it feels like that of a timid child?
A handshake can reveal a lot about the personalities behind them. Having a firm handshake creates a positive impression. It customer enables the customers to see you as a competent & confident professional. Here are 4 steps to a proper handshake –
- Look the customer in the eye
- Smile & extend your hand
- Grip their hand firmly (don’t squeeze hard!)
- Shake in an up-and-down motion for about 2-3 seconds
#9. Avoid Invading The Customer’s Space
Keep a respectable distance between yourself and the customer to avoid invading their personal space. Personal space here refers to the physical space surrounding us, in which we feel safe (and entitled to).
Encroaching on your customer’s personal space will make them uncomfortable or anxious. Most people would react to an invasion of their personal space by backing away or ending the interaction if the discomfort becomes unbearable.
Whenever you are interacting with a customer, allow a distance of about 3-4 feet between the both of you, at this distance you are not too close or too distant from the customer. Also avoid touching the customer, unless you have a good rapport with them already. Observing the customer’s personal space is a sign that you respect them and value their comfort, this will positively affect their attitude towards you while you interact with them.
Observing the customer’s personal space is a sign that you respect them and value their comfort, this positively affects their attitude towards you while you interact with them.
#10. Mirror The Customer’s Body Language
When people meet for the first time, they’ll usually look out (unconsciously) for similarities which indicate whether a connection or bond will be formed. Mirroring the customer’s body language is a great way to establish rapport and build a solid relationship with the customer.
You can mirror the customer’s body language, choice of words or tone. Mirroring is natural, we all do it unconsciously every day as we interact with people we have a close relationship with. You can get better at it and improve your ability to connect and build rapport with your customers. To achieve this, try to subtly –
- Mirror & match the customer’s body language (gestures, facial expressions, posture etc) as naturally as you can. Avoid forcing it or you would come off as being mechanical, also the customer might notice what you’re doing and interpret it as mockery.
- You can also mirror the customer’s choice of words. If you notice the customer tends to use certain words in his interaction. Use those same words in your response.
Customers will gravitate towards you if they feel you have a lot in common. This will pave the way for future positive interactions with them.
Deliberately work on practicing these tips, at any opportunity you have with your next customer. They will be of value not just in your customer service career, but in the social and personal aspects of your life.
Are there other body language tips you would like to share? Please comment below.