Body Language in Automotive Customer Care
In automotive customer service, some of the most important objectives when interacting with customers is to make them feel comfortable, earn their trust, and help them resolve whatever problems or issues they may have. While most of this depends on the employee’s verbal communication skills, it cannot be denied that non-verbal communication abilities are equally if not more important.
After all, it is commonly said that 70% or more of human communication is nonverbal.
The question now is, how does a person communicate nonverbally? The answer is simple: with their body language!
While there are entire books written by many experts covering the topic of body language, here are a few easy things to start with that you can implement and practice almost immediately.
The handshake is one of the first things you can do to start off an interaction professionally. If you are seated, be sure to stand up to shake the hand of your customers, as standing at the same level with them will come off as being very respectful and professional.
Be aware of cultural norms, however. For example, in Malaysia, sometimes women of certain cultures will not shake hands with a man. This is not meant to be disrespectful, so don’t feel offended if this happens!
When you do shake hands with a person, be sure the handshake is firm, and include a verbal greeting at the same time such as “Good morning/afternoon/evening” or even a simple “Welcome”.
Eye contact simply means looking into the eyes of the person you are interacting with. It’s alright to look away from time to time, but strong eye contact signals to the customer that you are paying attention to them, and that you are in a confident position. Coming off as confident is important as it assures the customer that they can trust you with their needs or problems.
If you are still a bit shy about looking directly at your customers, do not worry, as this is completely normal. One workaround is to look at the spot on a person’s forehead, right between their eyes. This helps customers think that you’re looking right at them, while allowing you to reduce the discomfort you may feel when looking at a customer directly.
Hearing and listening are two different things. When you’re actively listening to a person, your body should also react to show that you’re registering what they’re telling you in your mind. This is as easy as nodding your head as they speak, or even using simple words like “I see” and “I hear you” as a way of acknowledging the things they are telling you.
To take this a step further, be sure to ask clarifying questions. This could be as easy as saying “So what you’re telling me is…” followed by rephrasing what they just told you. This shows your customer that you really understand what they are saying, and also benefits you by minimizing any misunderstandings that might take place.
Smiling is probably one of the most useful body language skills you can use. A smile makes you look more approachable, which is good for customers who are looking for assistance. A smile is an indicator of friendliness, which makes customers feel welcomed at your organization.
But did you know that even a smile can sometimes backfire? That’s right! Smiling too much, especially when your customer is in a very serious or unhappy mood, could actually make them feel like you’re not taking them seriously enough.
That’s why it’s also important to learn how to mirror a customer’s body language.
Pay attention to the body language of the customer. While all of the tips mentioned above can be useful, it’s always a good idea to mirror how the customer is feeling. For example, if a customer seems very serious and doesn’t smile at all, they might be annoyed when seeing you smiling at them throughout the entire interaction.
The opposite might be true if they seem worried and unsure. A warm smile from an automotive customer service executive like yourself might actually benefit by making them feel assured that all their problems will be solved.