You may have noticed your clients being a little more cranky than usual as the stress of the holiday season takes hold. My tip this week is to remember to use humor whenever possible to avoid customer problems.
Consider this, Southwest Airlines immediately set themselves apart from the rest of the pack when they came on the scene a number of years ago. They changed all of the rules by having first come first serve seating, not serving food, and many other changes to customer expectations that could have been very challenging to overcome. It appears that one effective tact that they took to get clients used to these changes was humor. Instead of passing out their peanuts and waiting for the grumbling from the customers they came right out and said something punchy like:
“Folks today we have on our menu a fabulous assortment of peanuts. And, although you may be wondering what happened to the food, rest assured we used it for fuel for the plane so that you could get those outstanding fares.”
Who can argue with that? With laughter you see another side of things and are more open to new ideas. Here are some ideas for using humor in your business.
1. Post jokes and cartoons around the office (appropriate only please).
2. Relax, be yourself, and be witty with clients before problems arise so they are comfortable talking with you.
3. When problems do arise, never make like of the customer’s issue. It’s only after you have agreed on a solution that you can use humor as an ice breaker.
4. Be humorous with your staff, and it will rub off.
5. When setting expectations with a customer that is a perfect time to use humor. When doing a walk through with clients I used to tell customers all of the great things that we would do, and follow with “of course we are not in the magic business.”
6. Use humor around common ground sorts of issues. For example if you accidentally a holiday card to the wrong addressee, you could dwell on how it makes you look bad, but instead make a joke with the customer like “Ah, the peace and calm of the holidays”, because most people can relate to the stress that goes on at this time of year.