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Humor is a billion dollar industry, and with good reason- it makes us feel good.
In customer service, this is what clients want to feel when they make contact. Not everyone's good at being humorous. It becomes quite evident when you try to execute it mid trying to solve a problem or answer a query. Following the steps below should guide you on how to go about it.
Know Your Audience
Humor to millennials and old generations do not always mean the same thing. When dealing with a customer, use their account information, voice or typing cues on live chat to know their age group.
If you're working for an international business, knowing how and when to use humor is essential because it varies among cultures. Live chats give you geographical information, so that makes it easy to see.
As a rule of thumb, if in doubt, leave it out.
Pick up the cues
The last thing you'd want to do as a service agent is to make a joke when a customer is upset or emotional. Deducing their age and culture is great, but other social cues need to be noted and followed.
You can tell plenty about a person’s personality or mood from how they talk. On live chat, an emoji or ‘ha ha’ could give you a hint of their frame of mind. For phone calls, the tone gives you an idea of what way to take the conversation. Video chats are however the easiest because you're able to pick up facial cues as well.
When you're sure they are upbeat- or at least reasonable- go ahead and crack a joke. Using humor with an angry client worsens the situation because it comes across as you undermining them or downplaying their complaints.
Try starting with a light joke. If it's met with a stare, a fake laugh or silence, save the humor for another time.
The essence of using humor is to foster connections, not alienate others. The same principle applies to customer care; ensure they know you're laughing with them and not at them. Using kindness in your joke makes the distinction clear.
The quickest way to know if humor would be appropriate is to put yourself in your customer's shoes. Would the joke rub you the wrong way? Even if you excel at sarcasm, leave it, and any antagonistic jokes, for your friends. Opt for something more neutral and lighthearted instead. The point of humor is to make them feel comfortable.
Use humor you'd use on any given day- no one is asking you to be a comedian. However, keep the jokes appropriate to your company culture. A person working for a phone company and another at a tax audit Toronto company firm wouldn't both use humor. As always, be excellent in your service delivery. You don't want customers thinking the company has hired a joker to do the job. Where appropriate, poke fun at the competition; assure the customer they're with the right service provider.