Humor in Customer Service

“Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” – Tom Peters

Customer service is tough. Smiling through the stress, dealing with the emotional and irrational outbursts of customers is tough. It’s tough for the customer service agents and it is also tough for the customers to deal with delays or incompetence after they have invested their resources and are dependent on the company to make things work. Fair or not, it becomes the task of the company and its representatives to ensure that the situations and interactions are effortless and even stress free. This is where humor in customer service becomes so important and plays a major role in ensuring that your customers keep coming back to you. Humor helps to ease out tensions and relax the person you are interacting with. In everyday life too we prefer the company of people who can make us laugh and feel happy rather than with someone who is sullen, grouchy and dull. Humor makes people feel good and energized, so why not use it in customer service to make the most important person in your business feel happy.

Of course, just like with all other techniques and methods in customer service, humor too must be handled with care. All customers may not appreciate humor especially if they are particularly irate and may view it as sarcasm or an attempt to undermine the situation. Humor in customer service must be able to engage and arrest the attention and interest of the customer. Humor in customer service when used judiciously and cleverly can create an atmosphere of alignment and comfort. It can prove extremely helpful in dispersing tension and building a relationship with the customer based on trust and ‘liking’.

With a new customer or customers who have been known as aloof or distant, relate the situation with a hint of humor to ‘test the waters’. If the customer’s reaction is what you expected it to be, the next course of action would be simpler and more relevant. The idea is to do whatever possible to make your customer feel comfortable and have a sense of trust when dealing with your company. Ensuring this happens early on in the relationship will serve to make it easier to understand your customer and let them understand you. Given the nature of the job, it is quite easy for companies and especially the customer service representatives to think of it as rote, boring and unnecessarily tough. The interactions become robotic and the attitude veers towards, ‘I don’t care’. To keep such feelings at bay, using humor to re-energize these interactions does not seem like such a bad idea. The aim must be that the interaction must be memorable, interesting, fun and one that urges the customer to keep coming back to you.

Humor is not be mistaken with making lame jokes or saying this that could easily offend the customer simply because the customer service agent forgot to take demographics in to consideration. Humor is about displaying that you are having fun and really enjoying your work which is to provide customers with the highest level of service possible. A sense of humor in customer service will take out the mundane and lack of enthusiasm of the job. It is a core and deep-seated attitude that helps a person to see things positive and in a lighter vein. It keeps things in perspective and will keep the customer service agents from succumbing to the stress of the fast-paced and unrelenting service environment.

In fact, humor should be one of the things included when training agents in the nuances of customer service. Coaching and teaching the use of humor to dispel high crisis or tension laden moments will help the agents to remain calm and continue to provide customer service excellence. The ability to think clearly and in a focused manner greatly increases when one is in control of one’s emotions. As banal as it may sound, serving with a smile does have its merits and major ups! The truth is a smile and an attitude of service can be felt even when speaking to a customer over the phone. It spells ‘positive’ and will put the customer in to the same mood – humor in customer service or otherwise, is highly infectious. If your company has not yet discovered the benefits and joy of humor in customer service, may be these pointers here could help.

– The world of business and competition is highly stressed and causes a lot of unwanted and unnecessary friction in interactions. A touch of humor in customer service can relieve these tensions and frictions allowing the customers to relax, breathe and make the right decisions. Even the customer service agents would be more mindful of their demeanor and be happier when dealing with customers, especially the frustrated ones. As relationships build and the company’s reputation of being great on customer service spreads, more customers would be drawn to the company and will want to forge such happy relationships.

– Humor in customer service keeps the human touch intact. With the advancement in technology and upgrades almost every day, interactions are becoming more distant. Humor adds the smiles and a personal touch required to make customers feel special in the relationship with the company.

– Humor and laughter are known to have positive effects on the health too. For customers – if your customer service agents and the companies they represent are making the effort to make you smile, you must really thank them. Not only are they doing their job to serve you, they are going the extra mile to ensure that you are happy and remain stress free during the interactions.

– Scientifically speaking humor and laughter are known to increase the feel-good hormones and chemicals in the body that in turn relieve pain and make a person have a sense of being well. Humor is also great for the heart as it keeps the blood pressure normal keeping the body and mind stable and healthy.

– With customer service representatives dealing with a variety of customers, language and other barriers are easily overcome with politeness and a sense of humor. Getting people to smile and connect with you through the alleviation of their problems can only be good for everyone involved. Humor in customer service and otherwise, boosts relationships and also boosts social standing and skills.

Ideally humor should be the natural part of everyone’s being. It just draws people together and therefore it is strange then that so many companies keep this essential ingredient out of their customer relationships. If they were to focus on the customer, make them smile and release the stress in the already frenzied environment, things would probably move along a lot smoother. Of course, as a service provider there are going to be several occasions where the customer will just not see things from the right point of view. They would be mad and really annoyed but if the customer service agents are trained to step back and understand the frustration without seeing it as a personal attack, it would be beneficial. A sense of humor in customer service makes it simpler to recognize the customer’s frustration a lot more clearly. In most cases, customers often are dealing with failed meetings, arguments, flopped proposals and a myriad other things which could be getting projected on to the conversation with the customer service agents. We are not saying that this is fair or that abusive behavior is acceptable – rather keeping the views of the customer at bay and only dealing with the issue is the solution and having a sense of humor makes it simpler. Humor in customer service results in acceptance, openness, confidence and also in an appreciation of the other person’s point of view. Plus it makes the customer service agent’s job more enjoyable and make them more willing to help. Humor in customer service is by far perhaps the most sustainable of customer service models and would take your company way ahead of your customers.

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