Making Your Clients Laugh – WITH You

See – the key word is WITH not at!

120px-Happy_smiley_faceInitiating a connection or affinity with a potential customer is the first and most important step you will take in getting them from potential to actual. Working this connection needs to be treated with care and as a Customer Service associate, you must be aware of various factors. These could range from the obvious – that they are not colleagues but possible business for your company – to the ground parameters of gender, nationalities, culture and age. If you express veritable and unfeigned interest in your clients you will be able to get their attention, build a connection and nudge them to smile or even laugh WITH you. Address them by name, ask relevant questions and use well-judged humor without crossing to over familiarity – showing them that you are committed to create a positive impression as precursor to ecstatic levels of customer service. By sprinkling humor you will be displaying service that is distinctive and stand out and more likely to create a lasting positive impression on the client. This gives them an insight in to future service levels, your company’s commitment to serve and the brand it stands for. As professionals we all know that each job has a fixed unshakeable portion of the mundane, the boring but still needs to be done. Using humor is the best way to relieve the arduousness of these routines. Customers are people too, dealing with this tough truth – and they are sure to welcome this break. They may not always give you the response you expect, but hey, some response is better than apathy or a nonchalant demeanor. If the customers are calling you, it’s because they are interested in knowing what your company has to offer and even reward you with business. It wouldn’t hurt to enliven your interaction with them.

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Well the question you are probably asking is how to use humor that conveys actual interest in a customer, who is either irritated or are waiting in a long line of other such customers, especially over the phone and may perceive, as deemed by them, a long wait as insensitive. As a customer service associate you represent the front of your company so being amiable and likeable at this stage would serve to heighten your company’s business. Think like the customer – would you like to interact with someone who is deadpan, surly and unhelpful? As a customer service representative you must ensure that an interaction with you will tell the customer that the company is one that is efficient, effective and is ready to go out of their way to ensure their satisfaction. The customer must find the interaction memorable enough to not only come back but tell others about it too. Through your interaction with them, when you are able to make your customer smile by reinforced genuine interest, appropriate humor and a healthy serving of enthusiasm, you can be sure that even the most vexed and disgruntled customer will smile! These customers in turn are the ones who will spread your service finesse to others, thereby increasing the number of potential customers – repeatedly, consistently! Fail to do this and these same customers will have explosiveness detrimental enough to wipe out a significant number off your customer base. And this is no laughing matter!

Don’t get me wrong – humor while being an essential component of customer service, is not about telling jokes. It is about viewing even the most demanding and stressful situations with positivity and approaching them with a can-do mindset. It’s about having the right balance of vivacity and professionalism. It’s not about being a joker, a prankster but exhibiting a genuinely loving your work and making light of exacting situations. If you pay attention with a clear and unbiased mind, you will see that customers are constantly telling you how they feel without always openly expressing it. A peaceful and humorous approach especially during such crisis moments will help you think well and lay before the customer a useful set of solutions that will go a long way in lifting customer service levels from marginal to excellent. Customer service cannot be a mechanical interaction with the customers. It has to be brimming with friendly conversations, humor and unadulterated interest in the person you are serving. Do you know that you can actually ‘see’ a smile even over the phone? So it is not clichéd to say that your best bet is service with a smile. Everyone knows that a smile spreads easily and is always accompanied with positivity – it’s as easy as that. Or as hard! You choose your kind of customer service. Be memorable or be history!

Related Article: How call center agents use interactive guides instead of call scripts to use humor to advantage?

When you choose to be a customer service associate, you invariably know that you will be meeting headlong some extremely tough and I dare say, unreasonable clients. That is already a head-start for you – the knowing. When you are faced with such a person, the most effective customer service would be to stand back, listen and let your customer spew out all the anger. Understanding that the customer is a person and really does not have a personal agenda against you will help you keep things in perspective. Showing that you genuinely care by sharing some of that tumultuous emotional barrage, will calm the client down enough to want to listen to you. Interspersing your interaction with light humor and smile provokers, will tell the client that you are interested in resolving the problem for him within the parameters defined. A smile and humor in any setting or situation, almost always results in an acceptance and tolerance of the situation and in the domain of customer service, it will make you a happier associate with customers making a beeline for your company’s services and may be also to you every time they need help. Psst….you know how that pans out for you right? Increments. Bonuses. Promotions. Plush projects.. an endless list!

Despite being taught the value of common courtesy and smiles and words like please and thank you, dealing face to face with difficult people who are not in your circle of comfort, involves training and skills that must be taught. Incorporating humor and smile provokers in to customer service associate training should be integral to the training. As a company you are responsible to empower your Customer service associates to manage situations in the best way they deem fit at the moment taking into account their own personalities and style. Boost this part of your workforce at the time that you are selecting them. You should be able to feel the personal connect with the prospective candidate, assuring you that this candidate would make an ideal customer service representative. Give this workforce the best instruments and avenues to function and you have a winning combination. The more your customer service representatives know about engaging your customers the better will be the results for your company and the brand. Angry outbursts and rapid listing of issues must be met squarely with calm responses, a smile with a reply to the questions and an overall soothing demeanor that will instantly put the customer at ease. This unfeigned understand and empathy, will speak volumes of the company’s focus and mission of being supportive of their customers.

Laughing and smiling together are the two vitamins that strengthen bonds, enrich experiences, keep your attitude from spoiling and enhance the overall work environment giving you a heavy dose of repeat and new customers. When you can make a customer laugh also serves to alleviate his / her physical angst and pressure. As a customer service representative when you use humor it relaxes the customer, lightens the situation and opens the avenue for the customer to make a great decision – using your company’s products or services! This interaction will lend panache and personality to your company even in brands that are not seen as funny, like technology software or related fields. Go ahead – make them laugh WITH you!

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