Expert’s Corner: Chip Bell on Service with a Grin

smileyI love to bring in outside experts for you to share other perspectives on the Customers Rock! attitude. Today I am pleased to introduce you to Chip Bell. Chip is the founder of The Chip Bell Group and works from the Dallas, Texas area. His consulting practice focuses on helping organizations build a culture that supports long-term customer loyalty.

Chip R. Bell is the author, with John R. Patterson, of the newly-released book Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers. He can be reached through www.taketheirbreathaway.com.

Service with a Grin by Chip Bell

We have an economy to which customers are reacting with despair.  What if the features of customer service could follow the same principles that make humor work?  Let’s example the construction of these simple jokes:

From comedian Joe Weinstein:  “My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to 99 cents a can.  That’s about $7.00 in dog money!”

From comedian Larry the Cable Guy:  “Light travels faster than sound. That’s why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”

Both comedians create a mental pattern and unexpectedly break that pattern in the last one or two words.  The construction of the humor is simple and easy to get.  Finally, the lines have a “tongue-in-check” levity that is joyful.  What if customer service could be unexpected, simple and joyful?  It could bring comic relief to gloomy customers.

Create an Unexpected Experience

Customer service with an unexpected twist can take a customer’s breath away.  Magic tricks and rainbows have the same effect.  What are ways to take an everyday service pattern and turn it on its ear for the unexpected enjoyment of customers?   What if the forms were in fun colors?  What if the server wore a funny hat?  What if the server had a fun signature greeting?

Keep it Simple

It was not the caramelized popcorn that made Cracker Jack a snack food hit for over a hundred years.  It was the practically worthless free prize inside.  You know you have hit a service home-run with customers when you hear them warmly say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Simplicity trumps complicated.

And, Make it Joyful

Service is joyful if it is grin-qualified.  There will always be a few sour pusses that would never reveal their pleasure no matter how lively the deed.  Don’t let these “hearts of darkness” undermine your resolve to make the other 99.9% enjoy a service surprise.  Today’s customers are gloomier than ever.  They deserve your commitment to deliver your creative best.

(Image credit: Clivia)

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8 Responses

  1. I love this idea, that you should go beyond expectations. It is kind of a lost art in our society of guidelines and stock answers for customer service. It is a bit harder to do with a service then it is with a product (like craker jacks) but I do it with open communications with my clients. Any time during business hours by IM or email. I find it to be very effective.

  2. “Create an Unexpected Experience”, “Keep it Simple”, “And, Make it Joyful” – these are fantastic recommendations. Just one extra I would add to that list – “Make Customer Feel Relaxed and Secure”

  3. I wanted to share one more thought regarding this post. I went to taketheirbreathaway.com and indeed, my breath stopped for a moment when I saw the website. To be honest I just can’t stand flash websites where flash technology has been used everywhere giving you a bad usability experience. While Chip Bell is of course right with what he said (wrote), but should it not be applied to all ways of communication with clients?

  4. “It was not the caramelized popcorn that made Cracker Jack a snack food hit for over a hundred years. It was the practically worthless free prize inside. ”
    This is so true, when i was a kid I never cared about the popcorn but always look forward to see what kind of prize I won in the box! Its crazy how time flys! :)

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