“Laughter is the best medicine,” is a well-known phrase and the effect it has on a stressed and confused mind is enormous. (Of course, the enormity is relative to the degree of relief and not confusion!). Laughter, humor, and a general attitude of casualness instills a feeling of ease, relaxation, and relief in a person. Imagine going in a doctor’s office and a robot tells you, “Sir, you have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease!” It just doesn’t click and it adds to the frustration and stress levels of a patient. This feeling is just not limited to a doctor-patient relationship, but extends to any and all service providers. A person who is providing any sort of service and fails to connect with the service acquirer on a personal level will never be able to make a lasting impression on the customer’s mind. Have you gone through a similar experience? Never mind! It’s not about you anyways; it’s about the general customer service experience. Gotcha!
“Hello, Sir! How may I help you?” This is a familiar phrase one gets to hear countless times over phone calls, customer service phone lines, and even online chat messages. Now you would never feel comfortable opening up to someone who seems to have absolutely no interest in your problem, or will you? Someone who sounds robotic, superficial, and forced can never make you happy, satisfied, and contended with the whole customer service experience. Obviously, you need someone who listens, who seems friendly and genuinely interested in your problem. With the advent of technology and the recent boom in automation, everything is moving towards a human-free experience. It has taken over the customer service departments as well. Most organizations have automated and programmed voicemails that will respond to you in typical and fixed answers. So, now you know why the sweet-talking lady voice disappeared. Automation has reduced the customer service procedure to a mere robotic and boring interaction between the customer and the voice over, which in most cases either gives you the wrong answer or just keeps on repeating the same darn answer over and over again . Yes, you are not the only one banging your head against a wall.
The Importance of Human Interaction in Customer Service
So, after the entire pretext, the question remains, why is human interaction preferred in customer service? For a human voice, for discussing the latest season of your favorite show, for inquiring about the weather updates or just because talking to a friendly human who cracks a joke here and light comment there and seems legit interested in the problem of your life makes you relaxed, valued and love? Well, whatever the reason seems to be, keep it to yourself, because here is a list of Why’s that explain the extreme and end of the world type of humor in Customer Services : (But always remember, there are some rules of cracking jokes in customer service, because I guarantee you that you will be fired if you respond, “Hey buddy! Congrats on your freedom, your divorce just got finalized.”)
- You stand out. If you as customer service representative induce a touch of humor in your customer interactions, you will stand out and be remembered. Your advice and assurances to the customer will be received in a much better way. Kudos, you will be at the top of your game. Just learn a few good jokes will you!
- You will entertain the customer. When you indulge in a nice, casual, and funny chat with an otherwise confused and sometimes irritated customer (keep your cool with the grumpy ones too please), you make them relax and the make the entire phone call a rather enjoyable, entertaining, and happy experience. Consider an angry customer interacting with a dry customer service agent. “Hello. My product is not working.”—“So what can I do?”—OOPS! Good luck with that brave boy, LOL.
- It uplifts the employee’s morale. We all agree that customer service is not an easy job to do. How many times have you been satisfied with the customer service? Wait what? Zero, I knew it. So, if the representatives are friendly and funny, so will the customers.One encouraging comment, appreciating remark, and a funny response will uplift the morale, motivation, and loyalty of customers .
- Strengthens the customer relationship. A recent survey carried out regarding the factors that affect customer loyalty showed that customer loyalty and trust is increased for brands and services where the customer service is friendly, competent, and polite. Come on, after a bad customer service experience, haven’t you vouched never to buy the product again? Yes, we’ve all been there done that! Similarly, after a funny and casual conversation with the representative, where you take a lot of his or her time (and their sanity) and they still listen and respond as cool as a cucumber, you tend to like the product and service more. So, it clearly wins hearts and loyalty, win-win.
- Helps the customer relax. In most cases, when a customer service representative is engaged, it is because the customer is either stuck or confused. In short, help is needed. When the representative listens attentively, leaving a casual and funny remark here and there, the customer actually feels relaxed. (Okay, I haven’t completely ruined it. It can be fixed! Thank the skies and the heavens). So always, (not when you are telling someone their life is ruined), be funny, be humorous, be interesting.
However, it is extremely important that while you are trying to be funny and help the customer relax, don’t cross the boundary . What boundary you may ask? Well, while you are cracking a joke, always remember that the listener is a customer and not your best friend. Don’t get personal, don’t get offensive, and don’t be excessive. You know where too much humor spoils the show. For instance, when you go to a store and the salesman gives a constant wide smile. You wonder, do I have lipstick on my teeth or what?
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The Key to Humor in Customer Service
The key is to induce humor where appropriate and necessary to create a memorable, effective, and positive lasting customer experience while making sure that no line is crossed; and that you are not making the customer uncomfortable with your humor and friendliness. There are customers who prefer to stay to the point and get their job done as soon as possible without any small talk.( After all, you are talking to a customer and not your mother-in-law!) It is your job as a customer service representative to judge the tone and attitude of the customer, to get the idea about his or her inclination: Are they stressed? Are they looking for a quick fix? Are they worried? Can you help him or her with just your job or going a little out of the way? (Obviously, this is in relation to your work, no one is expecting you to invite the customer over for a date!)
So, get those brain muscles moving, stay attentive, sound interested, and be spontaneous. Next time someone asks you, “Hey can you help me?” How about saying, “No, I can only serve ice cream.” Good one, right? Just kidding.
Written by: Jasmin Youngman