Even the best planned customer service strategy can be rendered ineffective by poor communication skills. Employees need to understand the basics of body language, tone of voice and use of the right words to make your customer service standards work properly. Every disappointed customer tells 10 other people about their experience and they may never come back. In today’s competitive market poor customer service is not an option. More than ever, businesses need to focus on the details of their service plan.

Proper body language is imperative in every customer service situation. No matter what words come out of your mouth, if your body language is wrong bad customer service will result. When interacting with customers, associates needs to smile, maintain eye contact and lean forward with interest. These three body language basics let the customer know that the associate is interested in what they have to say, that the associate is friendly and that the associate is pleased that the customer has chosen their store. Crossing your arms, frowning and avoiding eye contact will all ruin a customer service situation every time. These behaviors give the impression that the associate is unfriendly, doesn’t care about them and is rude.

The proper tone of voice is the next communication skill that can make or break a customer interaction. The right words delivered with a monotone voice will convey apathy and will come off as rude to the customer. Make sure that your associates put a smile in their voice and that their tone is one of friendliness and sincerity. Your tone of voice is especially important on the phone. Smiling while you are talking to a customer on the phone will bring cheerfulness into your voice. Because customers can’t see you while you are on the phone, it is important to liven up your voice. The phone will “deaden” your voice, so you need to compensate with extra energy.

The last communication skill is using the proper words. In service it is important to always be positive. For example, try not to say “I Can’t Do That.” Instead of saying, “We can’t do that until next week” say “We can do that for you next week.” What sounds better? The second quote sounds helpful and positive, while the first one sounds negative. Write down all the negative things you have to say to customers everyday and find ways to say the same things in a more positive manner. The more pleasant and positive words will make a huge difference in a customer service experience.

When formulating your customer service standards don’t forget about basic communication skills. Body language, tone of voice and the proper words can make or break every customer interaction. Even the most brilliant strategy can be waylaid by poor communication, so make it an integral part of your training and strategy.