To deliver the best Face-to-Face service you must think like a customer. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you would feel being served by you.
You need to be aware of your body language and your tone of voice and how both are affecting the perception customers have of you and your company.
“Using professional actors to deliver immersive and interactive training makes perfect sense because they are the experts in voice, body language and how to calm nerves if someone lacks the confidence to approach customers or interact with them,” says Lucy Morgans, creative director at soft skills training experts Hendrix Training.
She adds: “Actors spend years understanding their body and characteristics. They are also aware of how their mood changes their body language and how energy levels can fall during a busy shift as tiredness kicks in and what to do.”
Hendrix Training runs an innovative, fun but also technical customer service workshop for a range of clients, including in retail, hospitality and the public sector, to boost employee confidence and lift the spirits of staff and customers.
The importance of body language
- Do you come across as bored and disinterested?
- Be aware of your facial expressions and/or any physical habits (we all have them)
- Does the customer look unhappy or confused? Or angry?
- Are you making eye contact with the people you are talking to?
- Are you coming across as friendly? Think about the power of a smile
- Think about how you perceive people in different situations based on how they appear and act
- You also need to be able to read other people’s body language so you can react accordingly.
It isn’t just what you say, it’s how you say it
Remember to be articulate. The words and phrases that are crucial to the information you need to convey must be spoken clearly
- You need to add light and shade to your voice to sound interested and engaged
- Think about accentuating key words to help you communicate more effectively
- Use an upward inflection at the end of a sentence from time to time
- Actors talk about he 5 ‘p’s’. These are Projection (can people hear you if you are talking to a table of people in a noisy restaurant, for example), Pace (how fast are you talking? If you are reading a list, give people time to take in the information), Pause (you pause for effect if you are talking about something important? Perhaps a special offer or meal), Pitch (how does your voice sound? Is it monotone, too high or too low, and is this affecting how people react to you?), and Power (do your words have the right impact? You may have certain words or phrases that have to resonate with the customer).
“It is also important to be a good listener so you take on board what the customer is saying and can offer the correct service. Sometimes we can be so focused on what we have to say that we do not actively listen,” says Morgans.
Dealing with complaints
If you are asked difficult questions or someone is complaining remember to remain calm and truthful. Authenticity, empathy and a willingness to help will go a long way.
- By sympathetic that a problem has occurred. This is not admitting fault (unless this is obviously the case) but accepting that there has been some inconvenience for the customer
- Explain why something went wrong. Why was the food cold/late? Why was their room not ready? Why are you out of stock? Why was there a delay in the service being offered? Basically, what happened?
- Inform them of how you have responded. What changes have you implemented. What has happened to solve the problem and (hopefully) ensure it won’t happen again
There are times when you will feel stressed or lack confidence. This is where breathing techniques can help. Try to avoid shallow breathing from the chest and breathe instead from your diaphragm, which is located just below your ribs.
Confidence also comes from reminding yourself that you are the expert and to tap into your product knowledge and experience in difficult or day to day customer service situation.
Actors bring customer service training to life with practical exercises and also what is known as Forum Theatre where they act our scenarios for the learners to direct to ensure more positive outcomes.