In the early 2000’s, the customer care industry was seen as commoditized. The common thought was services provided through outsourced companies were virtually undifferentiated. And maybe they were. But that was then.
Guess what? Just because you use an outsourcer, doesn’t mean you should follow the pack. You can choose to be different. It’s time we started seeing customer service as a marketing opportunity, rather than a necessary evil. Think about the mass cash that companies drop just to get people in their doors. It costs much less to retain an already-engaged customer than try to “do marketing” to prospects. It’s also not sustainable to deliver the bare minimum because 1) you’ll lose customers that aren’t getting what they need from your company and 2) you create a pretty juicy opportunity for a company that believes in delivering more (*cough, cough*).
Sometimes we can solve problems on our own (i.e. Google it), but then there are things that we just can’t. We’ve all experienced the spectrum of customer care, whether you’re trying to rebook your flight the airline just canceled or there’s something missing from that huge online shopping order you placed last week. Things happen! But most of us have been scarred by the long waits, elevator-inspired hold music, and lack of human contact (NO, I said my name is Stella, not Sarah. It’s Stella! Stellaaaaaaaaaaaa-AGGHHHH!!!).
Customer Care will exist as long as there are products and services available to us and since businesses need to make money, CC isn’t going anywhere. It’s important to invest in a customer care partner that mollifies your customers and adds something back to your company, while maintaining the technical stuff like great AHT (average handle time). You’ll find there aren’t many out there like that.
Something we love in both people and partners is a sense of humor. In our industry, it’s almost required. We know what we’re dealing with here, so why not break the ice with a joke (when appropriate)? Have a sense of humor in a situation that’s generally a painful one! Connect with your customers and bond with them on an emotional level. By doing so, you’ll make customer care less daunting and, who knows? You might shake up an entire industry.
According to a study conducted by Harvard’s and University of Pennsylvania’s business schools, using humor effectively can actually boost your status in business. If you can make people laugh, you’re perceived as more competent and confident than you might actually be. And they’ll probably feel more at ease, given a disgruntled situation.
If you are brave enough to tell the joke you want to tell, whether it succeeds or not, people ascribe confidence to you because they see you as efficacious for taking the risk, considering all the ways a joke can go poorly, said one of the study’s co-authors, Allison Wood Brooks of the Harvard Business School.
Laughter is the best medicine, right? Except when it isn’t! Here are some of our tips for how you can incorporate sense of humor into your business life, without putting your foot in your mouth:
1. There’s a time and place for jokes: Wisecracks may not be well-received if they come from the representative who handles ultra-sensitive customer complaints. But your customers may love a disarming pun here and there.
2. Always be tasteful: Remember that inappropriate jokes reduce your status. That goes for your the brands you represent, as well as you. Train employees on what’s tasteful and what’s not, and especially avoid jokes that can demean or insult any group of people.
3. Be authentic, act natural: Scripted jokes don’t go over as well as true and genuine banter that allows personalities to shine.
4. Laugh with them, not at them: You can joke about yourself, but never make jokes at other people’s expense. Remember, your audience needs your help, not a kick when he or she is down.