Consumer data that's distributed across digital channels can help business leaders learn a lot about customers, including their behaviors, preferences, attitudes, and needs. However, there are some customer characteristics that analytics and other digital tools don't pick up so well - at least, not yet. This includes the sentiment being projected by customers through their body language and facial expressions. When someone crosses their arms, this often implies resistance. A head scratch can convey uncertainty. Direct eye contact may suggest that a customer wants to connect while a consumer who averts his eyes may be hiding something or doesn't like the person he's talking to. It's critical for customer-facing employees to have an understanding of body language, especially for those who interact face-to-face with customers. Research indicates that up to 65 percent of the meaning that's conveyed in social encounters is communicated non-verbally.
There are both formal steps (training) that employees can take to pick up on body language cues as well as informal tactics.
Scott Welch, executive vice president of Cloud Operations at Five9, recently shared with me how playing poker has helped him to pay closer attention to what job candidates, employees, prospects and customers are conveying through their body language.
"One of the things I've found as you're building the operational team is that there are things in interviews to watch out for you don't always catch on paper," says Welch. He says he's also learned to assess facial expressions and other non-verbal cues with clients and prospects to help determine the type or amount of content they appear to be looking for.
Our world may be increasingly digitized but interpersonal communications still plays an essential role in the customer experience. Anything that helps a sales or service associate relate more effectively to a customer is constructive. A handshake, a friendly smile, open body posture - positive gestures that can help strengthen the face-to-face customer experience.