By Steve Marsh
A famous study performed by Albert Mehrabian in 1971 found that only seven percent of persuasive power and credibility is communicated during a conversation via words spoken. He found that 55 percent of the communication was made though non-verbal messages body language and 38 percent through the tone and fluctuations of the voice.
Similarly, the words used in marketing and advertising are important, but that is only a part of the total communication. A host of factors relating to the customer experience take the place of body language and tone in persuading consumers to use a particular company. The entire image of the company reveals far more to prospective customers than words do.
Consumers judge a company based on everything they perceive about it. What do the website, advertising, vehicle, employee appearance, and phone experience convey to the customer? Judgements about professionalism, expertise, reliability, level of service, trustworthiness, and honesty come primarily through impressions and not from words used. They are rarely picked up consciously but are acted upon at a subconscious or gut level.
Companies that focus attention on perfecting all aspects of consumer communication get better returns on their advertising, build stronger loyalty, enjoy more referrals, and can charge higher prices.
Inconsistencies in these nonverbal/non-written messages send jarring signals to consumers to be aware. A customer might select a service company based on an appealing advertisement, well-created website, and friendly phone conversation.
On the day of service, a customer’s high expectations can be jolted into doubt and concern when a broken down, filthy, and unprofessional looking work vehicle pulls up to the house. That is not what the consumer had been led to expect. All communications from this point on will be judged with much more scrutiny.
Before the visiting technician has a chance to say a word, customers often judge whether or not they will ever use this service company again based strictly on what they see when they open the door to meet the service tech and observe the work vehicle. If this first impression does not meet the customer’s expectations, it will be extremely difficult to satisfy the customer no matter how good the actual service provided is.
Advertising and website
Printed marketing materials and websites convey powerful messages through their look and feel. Are they neat, organized, and easy to understand or navigate? Consumers will abandon the piece or website if they must work to find the information they want.
The graphics and photos should correspond to the targeted consumer message the company is attempting to send. Budget-minded consumers are expecting to clearly identify low prices, see before and after photos, view powerful equipment, and be offered big guarantees.
Quality- and service-minded consumers on the other hand are looking for evidence that the company knows how to work in nice homes. They want to see credentials, association connections, indications of years of experience, and strong signs of social verification of quality service such as Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List reviews.
Consumers do not want to make a lot of calls to choose service companies. They hope their evaluation of the company from its marketing information is confirmed by the call and that they can proceed to schedule the work. They expect the conversation to confirm that the company performs the work they need and at a service level and quality that they are willing to pay for.
The caller wants to talk with someone who is friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable about the services offered. The prospect expects to get reasonable answers to any remaining questions and then to be guided through the process of establishing a convenient day and time for the work to be scheduled.
If the caller is a targeted consumer, this initial call should only be about booking the work. If the company marketing message has been clearly established, pricing should rarely become an issue.
Consumers will see the service vehicle as a prime indicator of how the technician is likely to perform and treat the customer’s home.
If the tech shows up late, with a beat-up van, the company has just announced that they don’t care about the details and that the customer should be prepared to be inconvenienced. Consumers hope to see a properly branded work vehicle that is well organized.
A clean vehicle is mandatory. Since this is a cleaning service, what should the customer conclude if the company can’t keep its own vans sparkling clean?
Does the technician look friendly and like he wants to be there? This almost instantaneous first impression is setting the stage for everything that follows. This stranger at the door must be appraised as to whether he is a safe person. The safety of the customer and their family is at risk.
Is the tech wearing a clean and clearly branded uniform? There should be no doubt in the consumer’s mind that this is a representative of the company they are expecting. Does the body language or appearance give the customer a reason to be fearful or concerned?
Does he introduce himself and hand the customer a business card? And does he ask permission to enter the home?
Owners have often focused their attention exclusively on the details of the service they are performing. While providing a good cleaning is essential to success, it isn’t the whole ball game. Successful marketing and customer satisfaction actually depends more on all of those other little things that make up the non-verbal messages.
If you want to improve the results of your advertising and referrals, and see the highest customer satisfaction, spend time and energy making sure that all the subconscious messages the consumers are picking up about your company are what you want them to be.
Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor, and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, Marsh created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit www.professional-carpet-cleaning-service.com.