My favorite romantic comedy by far is Hitch. The writing is flawless, Will Smith and Eva Mendes knock it out of the park, and I particularly love this opening scene.
In this monologue, Will Smith says that 60% of communication is body language and 30% is your tone of voice, which means "90% of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth."
These stats are based on a communication theory developed in the 1960s by UCLA professor, Albert Mehrabian. He found that participants were better at interpreting messages when they were accompanied by physical cues and verbal tones, as opposed to neutral or passive body language.
In customer service, this model is still very relevant today. In fact, if your company has brick-and-mortar stores, body language and verbal communication are two of the most important elements of customer service that you'll need to successfully support consumers.
In this post, we'll talk more about body language in customer service, including what role it plays, why it's important, and some best practices you can use to improve it with your team.
Why Is Body Language Important in Customer Service?
Body language is important in customer service because it affects how customers will react to what you're saying to them. As we highlighted in the section above, over 90% of communication is delivered through body language, as well as one's tone of voice. In face-to-face customer service, reps need to control both of these skills if they want to consistently provide a delightful support experience.
Even SaaS businesses Should pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Just because an interaction is happening over the phone or through a chat thread doesn't mean your body language isn't at play. If you're tense and frustrated, that affects the vocabulary you might use and how your tone might sound over the phone. If you're relaxed and optimistic, you'll be more empathetic to the customer's problem, even through a channel like live chat.
Now that we've covered why body language is important in customer service, let's look at some best practices your team can use to improve it.
8 Customer Service Body Language Best Practices
1. Maintain Eye Contact When the Customer Is Speaking.
Eye contact lets a customer know that you're listening to what they're saying. By maintaining it when the customer is speaking, it tells them that you're paying attention to their story and recognizing the significance of their roadblock.
Your facial expressions also play an important role in how a customer will react. If you show compassion and empathy in your reaction, they'll know that you care about their problem.
2. Practice Good Posture.
Posture is typically associated with confidence. The better posture you have, the more confident you appear to the customer. This makes it more likely that they'll trust your solutions, especially when an explanation is a bit more complicated.
3. Smile When It's Appropriate.
You should always look for opportunities to smile with a customer. Not only does this show that you're happy to help, but also that you feel optimistic about the case. Having a pessimistic or uninterested attitude lets the customer know that your attention is elsewhere and not focused on solving the problem.
4. Avoid Unnecessary Movement.
Fidgeting or making unnecessary movements can be distracting and take the customer's attention away from the case. Or worse, they could suspect you're uninterested in the conversation and more focused on another task.
When speaking with a customer or listening to their response, stand still, and limit motion to just your hands. Hand gestures can help portray a point and show your enthusiasm for the case. Just make sure you don't overdo it, as excessive hand gestures can be distracting as well.
5. Keep an Open Stance.
Keeping an open stance may seem like a small detail, but it does make you appear more approachable. When you face the customer — rather than turning away — you seem more engaged in the conversation. It's also easier to maintain eye contact when you're facing the person that you're speaking to.
6. Be Conscious of Your Tone.
Tone can dramatically influence how your message comes across. It's important to keep your tone in check, especially when a support case isn't going as planned. Being monotonic can make you seem uninterested while being too enthusiastic can make you seem insincere. Find a happy medium with a casual, professional tone that's friendly and agreeable.
7. Avoid Crossing Your Arms.
In some cases, crossing your arms can seem intimidating. It can look like you're trying to persuade the customer rather than helping them find a solution. To avoid this, try to keep your arms by your sides if you're not using them to illustrate a point.
8. Speak Loudly, Clearly, and Confidently.
The volume of your voice can also indicate how confident you are in your response. Be sure to speak clearly and avoid mumbling. Pay attention to your cadence as well, as talking too quickly can confuse customers and leave them with more questions than answers.