As I travel and speak across the world, one of the most frequent job complaints I hear is … “The fun is gone.” With increasing work loads, the fast pace of change, and the challenges of recruitment and retention, it’s not fun anymore.
Perhaps no where is that more true than in the area of customer service. It’s hard work, and it’s stressful work to try and please the customers all the time. As a result, too many people just go through the motions. They do their jobs, but they forget the “service” in “customer service.”
One example comes to mind. I remember gently chiding a supermarket clerk for failing to say “thank you.” She snapped back and said “It’s printed on your receipt.”
Let me suggest a better way. If you will consciously think of something you can do to put more fun into the work place, you’ll have a lot more energy, and your customers will be a lot more loyal.
LOOK FOR FUNNY THINGS IN THE WORK PLACE. One of my friends related this story. On a busy day at the doctor’s office where she was a receptionist, a patient was trying to schedule an appointment. My receptionist friend needed the patient’s daytime telephone number and hurriedly asked, “May I have a number between 8 and 5, please?” After a moment, the patient timidly replied, “Six.”
The trouble is–most people do just the opposite. Instead of looking for the funny things that happen in the workplace, they keep track of the negatives. They’ll say, “That’s the third thing that’s gone wrong today.” Stop that, and start looking for the fun things.
Second, COMMUNICATE PLAYFULLY ONCE IN A WHILE. I remember a sign I saw in a store. It read, “All children running loose and unattended will be towed away and stored at owner’s expense.” That’s a lot more pleasant than the usual stiff, stern warning of “Watch your children!!!”
Yes, you can even joke around with some of the customers. One night at dinner I asked the waiter what he recommended. He gave me the names of three other restaurants. I looked stunned for a moment. Then he said, “Gotcha.” We both laughed, but then he went on to tell me what a great choice I had made in coming to his restaurant and how delighted I would be with the food and service. He was right.
Third, ACCEPT YOUR CUSTOMER’S PLAYFULNESS Roll with the punches. Maybe you’ll get one of those customers who likes to tease, like the man who walked into the bank and said, “I’d like to open a joint account with someone who has a lot of money.” Accept their teasing as a delightful diversion rather than seeing it as a waste of your time.
Key Point: Fun and work are not opposites. In fact, they go together. Employees work harder and customers spend more money in an atmosphere of fun.