Whether we like the idea or not, your customer judges you and your company within microseconds. And, I have news for you – so do you, when you are the customer! We all do it; making judgements even when no words have been spoken.
Once, on a business trip, I was heading out to a popular restaurant to grab something to eat back at my hotel. I had found it on the internet and knew it was healthy and the address was close, in an area I knew well. While I was familiar with the location, I had never seen this restaurant before. I thought to myself, maybe they just moved into this strip mall since I last visited or maybe the app was out of date.
It was dark, but I finally spotted the sign. It wasn’t lit, but it was there. With a little luck, I was able to get a parking spot right in front of the location. When I looked up at the door, there was a key box on it – you know, the ones they use in real estate for realtors to show empty properties. All the windows were covered in dark film, now I’m thinking - the place didn’t just move in, maybe they recently moved out…dang it!!! I had just decided to surrender to going to a less then appealing restaurant, when someone emerged from the door carrying a to-go bag of goodies for their dinner! I thought, HEY, wait - they ARE open, geez!
Still hesitant I opened the door and went inside. It was like entering the Twilight Zone – hustling and bustling was happening right on the other side of the entry. I was a little stunned – standing there – are they crazy!? There was no way to see this from the outside of the building. How many people thought the same thought as I did and left without coming inside?
Objective communication is tangible communication, using actual words in most cases. The other side to this, the side that can be much more impactful, is subjective communication; what we communicate to each other that goes beyond our words. We use body language, the tone of our voice and even the physical space that surrounds us, including our appearance and our work space, to provide meaning to our words. These are things your customer will be judging and making split second decisions about doing business with your company.
When these two types of communication are inconsistent, it confuses the customer and can turn them off to your business, in many cases, before you have even had a chance to greet them.
Ways to avoid your adverse subjective messages that will turn your customer off:
- Your appearance, your work space, is all under scrutiny. Keep your work areas clean and neat – customers will judge your competences based on how well you present yourself. If you can’t be organized and care about these things, then you can’t possibly be competent when it comes to their needs.
- Body language – 55% of what you communicate comes through your body language. We learn very early on how to read body language. Babies become masters at it almost immediately. Do make eye contact, smile! Don’t rush or have jerky movements and for goodness sake - stop leaning!! Your body language can be perceived by your customer as indifferent and uncaring. This is a danger zone considering 68% of customer quit doing business with a company because of a perceived attitude of indifference!
- Tone of voice – no matter what the words are that you are saying (or typing in an email) – your tone will carry much more weight than the words you are saying. 38% of what we communicate is determined by our tone. Only 7% is communicated with your actual words. In most cases, it’s not what you say – it’s how you say it.
Remember, you are always saying something to your customer whether you are talking or not!