Join Fancy Mills for an in-depth discussion in this video Building rapport face-to-face, part of IT Service Desk: Customer Service Fundamentals.
- For those of us lucky enough to get to communicate with our customers face-to-face, there is a separate set of practices used to create positive, effective interactions. We're able to not only use words, but also tone and body language. We covered words and tone in phone and written communication movies, so here we'll focus on something unique to face-to-face contacts, body language. Body language is such an important component of communication, and it really is a useful tool.
But if not used properly, body language can send the wrong message and lead to a negative interaction. One of my own personal bad experiences with a technician happened a few years ago. The technician knocked on my door, walked right in, and said, "Where's your laptop?", and started working. He didn't ask and confirm my name, tell me his, ask if it was okay to see and even touch my computer, and he never even looked me in the eye. He replaced my motherboard, said it works now, and tried to leave.
I asked him if he tested my system, and he said no. I asked him if he could go back and test it, and he begrudgingly said, "Yeah." He tested it, left, and never ever looked me in the eye. What can we learn from this story? Well, quite a bit actually. You know most importantly we learned that even though a lot of these practices seem like commonsense, many technicians lack the proper training to make them a standard and automatic part of their everyday routine.
So let's look at a few body language basics, body positioning, hands, and eye contact. First, let's focus on positioning and body posture. The message that your body sends needs to be open and positive, not closed and shut down. To send the right message, let's look at some common negative body language positions that we want to avoid. Arms folded, this sends a negative message like I'm angry or closed off or I'm cold.
The challenge is the receiver doesn't know which one it is. There's the prayer. It sends a closed message, like you are hiding something or that you are wishing to be somewhere else. The wrist grabber, again this closes off open posture. It can make the customer feel like we're hiding something. There's the sumo wrestler, hands on hips, it looks aggressive like you're about to go into battle. The belt loop grab, looks casual, too relaxed like you're just hanging out at the mall.
The fig leaf, seems like we're covering or hiding something. The hands behind the back or at attention, this is a military style, but it looks like you're hiding something. So you maybe saying, "So what's left? "You took away everything." Well, what is left is to keep our hands, arms, and body open and out in front of our audience. We don't want to shut ourselves off from the customer. We not only have to be aware of our own body language, but we should also be aware of our customer's body language as well.
Body language is different in many parts of the world, so we must be aware of our gestures, our eye contact, and our body positioning. It's also helpful to watch the clues and cues your customer is giving you. If you are standing too close, they may back away, and that's fine. Give them some space. If a customer starts to stand too close to your personal space, be mindful of how you respond. Don't back away or recoil immediately.
Adjust your position slowly to something a little bit more comfortable. There are some basics that are important in face-to-face communication, whether you're working in a walk-up bar, serving as a desk-side technician, or getting stopped in the hallway. Face-to-face communication requires first to make meaningful eye contact. Eye contact is vital to building rapport as it establishes a personal connection. We want avoid staring or glancing and then looking away. And lastly, don't forget to start out with a friendly smile.
It's easy to do so and conveys a positive and helpful attitude. Incorporating these simple techniques and avoiding negative body language will help ensure a positive experience for our face-to-face contacts.
First, Fancy provides guidance on how to use the right types of questions to gather information about an issue. Then, she explains how to professionally handle common customer service tasks, like escalating and transferring calls. Then, she shows how to hone interactions with customers by refining communications—acknowledging how tone and word choice can diffuse tension. She wraps up by covering common customer behavior scenarios in which the tools, techniques, and strategies from the course can be applied.
- Greeting and validating contacts
- Asking investigative and diagnostic questions
- Confirming and validating responses
- Reaching resolution and closure
- Using mute or hold on a call
- Escalating or transferring a call
- Building rapport over the phone, in writing, and face-to-face
- Refining word choice, style, and tone
- Managing conflict effectively
- Recovering unsatisfied customers
- Redirecting customers
- Identifying customer behavior