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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Importance of Unlocking Customer Non-Verbal Cues


Customers are the lifeblood to any business. If the customer walks away unhappy you may not only lose their lifetime patronage but also deter their friends from frequenting your business as well. The type of interaction between the company and the customer will often determine whether or not they will have a positive impression of your business. According to an article in the Journal of Marketing the ability of company employees to read the non-verbal cues of customers will influence customer affect (Puccinelli, et. al. 2013).

Most of us have experienced poor interaction with company employees from time-to-time. It isn’t always the big things a business does that makes or breaks our impressions. Most businesses know how to avoid these large issues through processes and procedures.. It is the small actions and interactions that can hurt or damage customer perception.

Poor customer interaction often is a result of under trained employees that don’t read the customers needs and don’t know how to respond to those needs appropriate. For example, an agitated customer won’t be happy if you try and sell them another product versus solving their problem. A single mistake in judgement can lose that customer forever and leave a bitter taste in their mouth.

Non-verbal communication is also reciprocal. A customer who is reading the company representative non-verbal cues and picks up on lack of interest, condescending behavior, or annoyance will likely apply that impression to the entire business. They will interpret such behavior as an indication of the amount of value the company places on their customers.

When customers think and reflect on the business there are two aspects that may come to mind. On one hand, they could consider the service itself and whether or not they need that service. On the other hand, they may think of the interactions they have with people who work for the company and whether or not their patronage is appreciated. If either of these interactions are negative there is a chance the customer will find another business to requent.

The study highlights the need to train customer facing employees with the ability to read and understand customer cues and respond to them appropriately. This may occur through scenarios, examples and role playing. When representatives can interpret signals appropriately they will be much better able to respond to the customers needs. When they give off the right signals they can prompt customers to their value leaving them with a higher affect.

Puccinelli, M., et. al. (2013). The value of knowing what customers really want: the impact of salesperson ability to read non-verbal cues of affect on service quality. Journal of Marketing Management, 29 (34).

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