Ruby Newell-Legner - 7 Star Service
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How to SOFTEN Up Your Fans

Actress Mae WestDo you know customers form 10 impressions of you in the first five seconds? What first impressions are you leaving with them? And more importantly, what perception is your staff leaving with them?

Every day we communicate through our gestures, body language, posture, facial expressions and eye contact (or lack thereof). In any industry, it is critical to pay attention to these nonverbal messages. The wrong message can easily be sent in a quick and seemingly simple face-to-face encounter with a customer if you refuse to acknowledge the power of those nonverbal cues.

To help participants in my training programs learn and understand simple reminders of positive communication, I teach them the SOFTEN technique. The late actress Mae West (seductively pictured above) summed it up best in one of her most famous quotes: “It’s not what I do, but the way I do it. It’s not what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do and say it.”

The SOFTEN technique can be used in a variety of situations, whether you’re building rapport with a new friend or calming an upset customer. The acronym is a terrific reminder that will help you improve just about any relationship.

S stands for Smile.

A smile is an expression of welcome. It conveys pleasure, happiness or amusement. When you smile, it displays a good attitude, a sense of humor, a caring approach. In the service business, a smile is required for you to succeed. Throughout your day, stop and take note of the expression you have on your face.

O stands for Open Posture.

An open posture demonstrates your open-mindedness, while a closed body posture looks as if you don’t care or don’t want to listen. Crossed arms, for example, subliminally create a barrier and hinder positive communication. Think about that the next time you cross them.

F stands for (Lean) Forward.

Leaning forward slightly shows you are attentive and anxious to assist. About two inches should do it; don’t lean in so much that you fall on the other person! The goal here is to subliminally say, “I’m here for you.” That lean forward clearly conveys that message.

T stands for Tone of Voice.

A clear, audible and enthusiastic voice sends a positive professional message. After coaching swimming for 20 years, I have a coach’s voice — a voice that has startled small animals and scared children. I’ve made babies cry by accidentally using that voice at the wrong time. Sometimes, I will be walking in an airport and a kid will take off running across the concourse, and without even thinking I will yell “WALK!” I can’t help myself; too many years on the pool deck.

E stands for Eye Contact.

Eye contact provides important social and emotional information and proves you have each other’s undivided attention. When you engage with another person’s eyes, you connect with them on a higher level. Once you do that, linger a little bit past comfortable before you look away. You’ll feel the strong connection.

N stands for Nod to Acknowledge.

Nodding your head shows you are listening and indicates you want to hear everything the other person has to say. I must confess that sometimes I nod my head to keep my mouth out of trouble. It helps me close my lips and reminds me that it isn’t my turn to talk yet.

Remember: Your reputation is only as good as the impression you leave with every guest or customer. Use the SOFTEN technique to enhance your dialog with each individual you serve. In our business, positive communication is everything.

(Photo by Pixabay)

About Ruby Newell-Legner

As a Fan Experience Expert, Ruby helps leaders in sports, leisure and entertainment build strong teams between front line staff and management, and make exceptional customer service a way of life. She has consulted with and designed customized training programs for more than 60 sports and entertainment venues, 80 leisure facilities and 29 professional sports teams. From the only 7 Star Hotel in the world to Convention Centers, from Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes customer loyalty and retention.

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