3 ways to put some FUN into your customer interactions

Last weekend, my mom and I went shopping for her upcoming cruise. We went to lots of stores and encountered many levels of service providers.  From the very cranky at being alive to the “I live to serve” type—we got ‘em all.  But a young woman in the shoe department at Macy’s stood out from the rest.

It was their once-yearly, twenty-five-percent-off-anything-if-you-donated-five-dollars-to-charity day, and by the time we got to the shoe part of mom’s outfit it was late in the day.  The place looked like it had rained shoes.  Shoes and stacks of shoeboxes were everywhere. A long line of customers waited outside the mysterious “back room” for a salesperson to come out and help them find the right size. Unfortunately, even after viewing this scene with the knowledge that getting someone to help would be a long shot, mom found the perfect shoes and wasn’t leaving until she got to try them on.

I found her a place to sit and dove into the fray.  First of all, even though there were at least seven people working in the department, no one could get anywhere near them. With chins down and arms piled high with boxes, each of them had a purposeful desire to avoid eye contact and keep moving.  Just when I thought, This is SOOO not happening, a young woman popped out from behind a huge pile of shoeboxes, looked me in the eye, gave me a megawatt smile, and said, “Just one minute and I’ll be right with you—it’s kind of a zoo today!”  She zipped off to deliver the boxes to an elderly woman sitting near my mom, taking a moment to open the first box of shoes and say to the customer, “These are a half size larger than you wanted, but they were the only pair and run small so I brought them to you, too.”

She turned and smiled at my mom, looked at the shoe she was holding, shared that those were her favorite shoes in the store, and asked what size she needed. She then said, “I’ll get them as soon as I can—we have only three people finding shoes in the back, two on the floor, and two at the cash register, so it might be a few minutes.” WOW!  What a way to inform and delight a customer!  She looked like she was having fun, delivered personal service, and proactively soothed a frustrated customer who had to wait.

How did she do this—and how can you do this with both internal and external customers to make them feel valued?  By putting the FUN into customer service:

F:  Focus your attention: Step one is to focus your attention. Look up and see who is there. Acknowledge their existence. Describe three things about them in your head so when you open your mouth to speak, you are all about THEM. Be sure to notice the small details.

U:  Understand their world: Step two is to understand their needs.  Do a little detective work. Check in—ask them what they are looking for.  If you are not exactly clear what they want, double-check by reflecting back what you heard or add value by suggesting something they may have not thought about.  Sometimes a person’s needs are very subtle and if you capture them accurately, you will have a customer for life.

N:  Nurture them: Step three is to nurture—to celebrate who they are, respond to what you now know they need, and let them know you care.  It is sharing—either overtly or covertly—that they have value and are important, and that you want to improve the quality of their life for the time you are together.

So put the FUN back into serving and create lasting memories! Now more than ever, people need reminders about why to show up wholeheartedly, believe in themselves, and enjoy their lives.  Take pride in the small things can you do to get big responses out of people. Make every moment magical by realizing that every day you have the power to create smiles and touch lives.

PS: And yes, my mom did get the shoes!

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About the author:

Vicki Halsey is one of the principal authors—together with Kathy Cuff—of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Legendary Service training program.  Their other-focused posts appear on the first and third Thursday of each month.

5 thoughts on “3 ways to put some FUN into your customer interactions

  1. Vicki–thanks for a delightful story to start the day! Personal experiences, told with an eye to lessons learned, are so engaging, so memorable.

    Our work lives can be equally as chaotic as a special shoe sale, and as a non-profit executive, I can see the application of FUN for my team.

    My organization is significantly focused on doing good for others… folks we rarely see. We spend a lot of our time identifying the opportunities within the ever-changing landscape to advance our mission of promoting the health and educational success of children and youth. We establish priorities, balance current activities with those rising (ever-so-quickly) to the top and identify funding to support the expanding work.

    Your story brings me to a stop for a moment– to linger on the FUN we have internally. Are we taking time to focus on, understand and nurture each other? I will check with my team and see how we are doing and where we must improve.

    Thanks for the insight!

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