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Posted on: November 7th, 2012

Managing Emotions (Part 1 of 3)- Senses & the Service Industry

Our five senses (Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste & Touch) can evoke emotions that can set the mood long before we get the chance to even interact with the customer.  In parts 2 & 3 of this series we will talk about emotions & senses and their connection to customer service and marketing, but for now let’s focus on setting the mood!

How many times have you seen a salesman walking up to the door and it set a mood for you?  Or how many times do you answer the phone at home and with the first word on the other end you understand the ‘do not call list’ has been violated?    Walk into a new restaurant and the smell from the kitchen sets the mood, sometimes good sometimes bad.

Let’s take a look at three of our five senses for the property; Sight, Sound and Smell.  Studies have shown that we use these three senses most often in association with a brand.

SIGHT – Seeing that salesman walk to the door can start a chain reaction of emotions, most of the time negative; another intrusion into your day.  So what does a customer pulling onto your lot see?  Is it free of trash, are the employees in a clean uniform, is the grass mowed, are there flowers, do you have good directional signage or what is the color of your building and menu signs?  Studies have shown that up to 83% of information we receive is done so visually and that our mood can increase by as much as 46% when exposed to a positive picture.  That’s a lot of information for a customer to pull in without anyone on site saying a word.

SOUND – It may not ‘sound’ like much, but when you heard the familiar clutter in the background and the voice on the other end asked if Mr. Smith was available a mood was set.   What you hear or don’t hear can go a long way into setting the mood.  Are the dryers so noisy that you have to yell at the customer so they can hear you; is the speaker on your auto teller a whisper; is there comfortable music in the background while a customer waits on hold; or what does the high pressure sound like inside the car.  Studies have shown that our mood can increase by up to 65% if we are exposed to a positive sound.

SMELL – When you walk into a new restaurant the smell can set the expectation of either a good meal or a bad one coming.   Does your employee smell like he just ran the Boston marathon, do the trash cans smell like a trash truck, can you smell cigarettes when you walk up, does the reclaim water smell like a rotten mosquito pond or does the triple foam have a nice scent?  Our sense of smell affects people up to 75% more than any other sense.  It is estimated that humans can remember up to 10,000 different odors!

The human body is an amazing piece of machinery!  All of our senses are used to transport us to a place in our mind that either has a positive impact or a negative impact.  These three senses can help either calm down a customer in a bad mood or they can help that customer continue down a negative path and, in turn, allow them to have a negative impression of your business.  Take an inventory of your property, what ‘sense’ do you get?