Your Customers Judge You! How to Use Non-Verbal Communication to Your Advantage

What is your business communicating to your customer? Is it what you want to communicate?

Your company is doing top quality work but does your customer get the impression that it’s top quality?

How do businesses communicate both verbally and non verbally to customers?

To illustrate I’ll use S.O.S. Automotive, (Service on Site). Truth in advertising – this is my brother in law and sister’s business in Southern California. Their motto: Quality, Honesty, Integrity.

How does the average customer KNOW that the work is quality, that the shop is being honest with billing, and that they’re not compromising or cutting corners? How would I know this if I take my car in for service?

(Apply this same line of thinking if you’re a Plumber, Tile Setter, Builder, etc.)

Your business can do a number of things!

1 – Set up Expectation

S.O.S. Automotive (or your Plumbing, Building, Sheetrock, or Tile business) gets me, the potential customer, an estimate of work PRIOR to touching my car, walks me through the estimate, and has me sign it.

This is an education piece. Here is where you, as a business owner, let your knowledge and expertise shine through. If you geek about about your profession, this is your moment of glory!

  1. What is it that’s wrong with old Betsy?
  2. What are the consequences if I DON’T do the repair? (usually more $ down the road!)
  3. Why do you use X part and not some cheap-o part from this other store? (because you use quality parts dammit!)
  4. How long will it take before I get my car back?
  5. How much will it cost? (By this point I, the customer, should be much more ready to pay the cost because they’ve set up the need so very well.)

2 – Delivery of Service

Work your magic baby! Do that work that you know and love whether it be tile, auto, plumbing, construction, or sheetrock.

Important Note:

IF you find something that will change my final price, stop working immediately and pick up the phone. Call me! Let me know what you have found. Run through Setting Up Expectation, give me the option to choose how I want to proceed (which should be the way you recommend – IF you’ve Set Up Expectation correctly), then continue working.

3 – Non-Verbal Communication

I’m here now to pick up Betsy, pay and be on my merry way. How can S.O.S. Automotive hit it out of the park and make sure they’re communicating Quality, Honesty, and Integrity?

The devil’s in the details. You see, I, the customer, am NOT interested in looking under the hood. I just want my car back and working great so I can proceed with my work/life.

S.O.S. (and your business too) communicates that they do quality work and pay attention to the details NOT JUST BY WORKING ON MY CAR (OR LAYING TILE/PLUMBING/ETC). They’re communicating with me before I turn into their lot to well after I leave.

Is the building well kept? Are the flower beds weedy or tidy? Are the windows clean? Is the office organized? Is the bathroom clean and fresh smelling? Is my car cleaner than when I brought it in? Etc.

Customers judge your business from the very moment they see your
parking lot

Everything the customer sees is communicating a message about the quality of work you’re doing.

Frustrating for the shop owner? Probably yes!

The quality of work being done under the car has little to do with how the front desk receptionist keeps the lobby and his/her desk. However, the customer is making a judgement.

It’s to your advantage to make sure the ENTIRETY of the customer experience reflects the quality of work and your company mission.

For S.O.S. automotive here are some ways they can non-verbally communicate Quality Honesty and Integrity to me, the customer. (BTW they do MANY of these things! I’d receive a nasty gram from my sister if I implied they needed to correct all of the items below.) Use these examples to when thinking about your business.

  • Clean Parking Lot – Free from Tools, Debris, Leaves, etc.
  • Cars Parked in Organized Fashion
  • Swept Walkways
  • Clear Signage (not peeling or fading)
  • Live, Not Dead, Plants Indoors and Out
  • Clean Entry Door Handles
  • Tidy Lobby
  • Organized Desk
  • Greet/Welcome Me With a Smile
  • Put Up to Date and Industry Specific Reading Materials in the Waiting Area
  • Have Something for a Waiting Customer to Drink or Snack on
  • Clean and Stock the Restrooms
  • Good Lighting in Entry, Lobby, Bathroom, and Lot
  • Nice Smelling Shop
  • Wipe Down My Vehicle Dash
  • Clean My Windshield
  • Use Floor Mats
  • Have Employees Look Me in the Eye and Greet Me

The items above may have little or nothing to do with the actual work done under the hood.


The items above speak the language of the customer. Most people know, understand, and can recognize cleanliness, organization, hospitality, and care.

By correctly carrying Quality, Honesty, and Integrity to the lobby, S.O.S. Automotive is communicating the values they’re give me under the hood.

The owner of any business needs to pretend to be a customer.

Two examples of companies hitting it out of the park:

The tile setter we hired, Hinkle Home Improvements, left his tools and materials organized and the work space clean.

Ridgeline Plumbing daily  cleans up and leaves tools, etc. organized neatly.

Both professionals communicated to me, the homeowner living in the space they were working, that they pay attention to the details.

I wasn’t about to go under the house to check the plumbing and wouldn’t know what to look for if I did. But the plumber (and tile setter) communicated the following simply by cleaning and organizing the work space:

  • he was thinking about my needs (not cleaning up after I’d already worked a full day)
  • he takes care in his work
  • he’s proud of his work
  • he values and respects my home
  • he values my business
  • he pays attention to detail
  • he’s organized and methodical
  • he’s respectful to other people’s property
  • he does better work than others in his profession

Imagine, communicating all of this simply by cleaning up a mess and organizing tools and materials!

Big payoff for a tiny investment.

What ways can you non-verbally communicate to your customer the values and quality job that you do?

Step outside your business and pretend to be a customer. Make a fun staff meeting out of it! Have your team do the same.

You’ll find yourself and your team motivated to reach greater heights. This translates well for the success of your business.

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