By: Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

Being able to read body language and doing so accurately can enhance your business when striving to deliver outstanding customer service.

When it comes to delivering good customer service actions matter, but before committing to action you should know what acts will redeem the greatest returns. As an example, where do you place more credence when dealing with your customers? Is it in what they say or what they do? Words frame the expectation of what’s to come, but actions are what really bring words to life. Thus, when addressing customers’ concerns, you must know what you’re really addressing. In order to enhance that process, you can gain invaluable insight by reading customers’ body language to assess their real wants and desires.

You can use the following guidelines to increase the perception of your efforts when striving to deliver outstanding customer service.

Addressing customers:

When dealing with customers, increase the degree of loyalty they have by giving them what they want. I’m not speaking of platitudes. I’m speaking of genuinely addressing their needs and delivering what is important to them. In order to be successful in doing so, listen to their words and the way they convey them (e.g. “This is too expensive!” while they physically pull away from you). The customer that says an item or service is too expensive while pulling away is conveying a different mindset from one that says, “This is outside of my budget” and maintains the same distance. In the former statement, if you responded by lowing your price, without understanding what is meant by the customer’s declaration, you’ll set out addressing the wrong concern.

Keep in mind that you can discern a customer’s body language even when communicating via the phone or in writing. In order to do so, compare their normal manner of communication to one whereby they’re irate or pleased about a situation and observe the difference from what is the norm for them. What you’ll discover is the degree of their irateness or pleasure, which will serve as a barometer related to addressing their situation.

Control your customers:

My motto is, “You’re always negotiating”. When addressing a customer’s problem, you must understand the problem from the customer’s viewpoint. To really do so means to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and see the concern through the customer’s eyes. Kinesthetically, feel the need that she is expressing. Tap into her pain and understand why it’s there. Once you’ve been able to assimilate those emotions, verify her perspective by observing the manner in which she purports her situation. In essence, observe her body language to seek greater meaning to her conveyance. Take note of the synchronization between her words and actions. As an example, does she:

  1. display a state of anger, while smiling (This is called incongruence, which means she may be attempting to display such a state to manipulate you to her viewpoint)
  2. appear arrogant, while insisting she’s not trying to take advantage of you
  3. turn sideways when speaking in person (from a body language perspective, she might not be facing you with her body fully displayed because she’s attempting to conceal something), or changes her pace of speech when speaking via the phone (this could be a mental display of becoming more inner reflective)
  4. when in person, also observe the level of perspiration (i.e. forehead, hands, over lip, etc.) When someone is emotionally distraught, their symptoms are displayed through what might be perceived as nervousness, when in reality the person is upset, which might lead to the misperception that they’re nervous. Then again, they could be nervous as the result of being upset. You’ll be able to make an accurate determination after observing their behavior over a noted period of time.
  5. Lip pursing/lip licking – Pursing or dry lips can be an indication that someone is holding something (they’re words) back, which might be a signal that they’re not enamored with your solution. It could also be a sign of nervousness.

In the end, always remember, no deal is better than a bad deal. Thus, if a customer is too demanding about her wants to rectify a situation and it’s to your detriment, let the customer go. You and your business will be better off.

Using Leverage:

When attempting to deliver good customer service consider using leverage. One way to use leverage with irate customers is to display the fact that other customers are satisfied with your services. This is very much akin to a negotiation strategy, because it will only work with someone that wants to feel “safety in numbers” (i.e. it’s good enough for everyone else, so it must be OK).

If an irate customer is independent of mind and wants to stand out from everyone else, adopt another strategy (e.g. you might consider pointing out how they are a trendsetter and observe their body language to determine the appeal of such a thought.)

Since business owners don’t have an infinite number of hours in a day, in order to be successful, one must manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.

It’s been said, “If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered.” When addressing a customer’s concerns or inquiries, do so with the conviction that conveys your level of commitment to their situation/concern/suggestion.

When all else fails, laugh when you can, apologize when you should and let go of what you can’t change. People change and things go wrong but always remember life goes on … and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!


Greg Williams is known as “The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert”. He’s a Fox TV News Contributor that comments on the body language and Negotiation Tactics and Strategies used by politicians and others that are in the news. He also speaks at seminars and conducts trainings in corporate environments in which he enlightens his audiences as to how they can increase their perspective of someone’s demeanor, by reading that person’s body language and employing negotiation strategies that give them an edge.

[email protected]   –   (609) 369-2100