How do you deliver great customer service while wearing a mask? 

Think about it. You walk into a store to buy something, and most everyone is wearing face masks and, in some cases, gloves as well. You may think you inadvertently walked in on a major robbery though we all know this is not the case now. With faces covered and practicing social distancing measures, how do you change your behaviors so that customers feel welcome and become engaged? One of our clients asked this question a few days ago. How do we go about delivering great customer service with a mask on?

To answer the question of how we should behave when wearing a mask, you first need to understand the importance of body language for employees and customers. Second, you need to understand the central significance your face plays in establishing a good relationship with your customers.   

Research from UCLA shows that only 7% of communication is actual words. The rest comes from the tone of your voice, and 55% comes from body language. Facial expression is a critical component of your body language. In fact, Charles Darwin first proposed that we convey emotions such as anger, trust, contempt, and others through facial expressions in 1872. Over time, researchers have proven his hypothesis to be true. Furthermore, these facial expressions are widely understood across cultures, even if the languages are different.   

How Do We Compensate With a Mask On? 

With a mask on, you are at a communication disadvantage. And so is the person with whom you interact. Here are some ideas to compensate: 

Smile under the Mask

There is something called a Duchenne smile. It is what researchers call a sincere or real smile. This type of smile not only causes your lips to move but most of your facial muscles. People who smile like this have crows feet at the end of the eyelids. 

Guess which person is showing a Duchenne smile! You can’t fake a real smile like the person in second image below.  

A real smile and a passive smile

Which one is the genuine smile?

The Mask Doesn’t Cover your Eyes

The eyes, the eyes. Your eyes are the windows to your soul, so don’t try to hide them. Direct eye contact with your customer is more vital if your mouth is hidden for delivering a great customer service. Since your customer may also be wearing a mask, eye contact for both of you is critical.   

Ramp up the other parts of your body language. Your mother’s advice to stand up straight is spot on in this situation. Standing erect makes you more professional looking to your customers. Watched the crossed arms. They send signals to customers that are off-putting.

Customer can still see your eyes with your mask on. Smile.

As we continue to live in the new reality of social distancing (even in customer experience), there are things you can do to make the customer experience better, even while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.

What is essential is to keep in mind what Aristotle said many centuries ago in Politics: “Man is by nature a social animal … Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to and therefore does not partake of society is either a beast or a god.”

Even if you and your customers are wearing masks, the desire to be a social animal is still present. Don’t let the mask get in your way of delivering great customer service.

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