Making Customer Service Fun – Lessons from the Ice bucket Challenge

“Thanks Tim for nominating me. My name is John Doe and I am going to take up the Ice Bucket challenge and donate money for the cause. I also nominate Smith and Pete.”

Oh no, not again. We have been seeing tons and tons of such posts and videos all over the web. The Ice Bucket Challenge did not just go viral. It went downright crazy. There were celebrities, entrepreneurs, sports stars and even leaders of nations taking it up. As usual, you were neither interested in contributing to it, nor were you really keen on appreciating it.

Another valuable bucket of water wasted. To glorify the wastage, some ice cubes went down the drain too.

Was that not your common response to the large set of videos on the web? Maybe you were not interested in ALS or in wasting water . But were there no takeaways from the concept? In fact, there are.

The Rare Takeaways

I was just browsing through a lot of articles either spewing hate or singing praises about these videos. It made me wonder. What is it that makes this campaign such a viral concept?

It is simple. It was viral because it made people feel good about what they were doing to someone. They felt happy knowing that having fun could still contribute to something valuable.

Let’s extrapolate this a little bit to what we know best – Customer Service.

Ice Bucket Challenge And Customer Service

Support agents sometimes work thinking that customer service is their ‘job’. The minute an agent starts treating support like a daily drill of mundane conversations with customers, it will slowly see them do a poorer and poorer job of customer service.

Customers are going to automatically gravitate towards support agents who enjoy their work, because the enthusiasm is infectious and it helps build strong customer-employee relationships. Look at the following statistic from Corporate Leadership Council’s key findings on the links between Employee turnover and Customer Satisfaction

According to 2003 Institute for Employment Studies research, employee commitment had a higher correlation to customer satisfaction than employee satisfaction.

Places That Make Customer Service Interesting

The Ice bucket challenge went viral singularly because people did not look at contributing money as a burden. They looked at the ice bucket challenge as a fun thing to do.

Companies across the world implement fun elements into their work to make employees break away from their daily routine and enjoy their job.

The ‘Thank you Thursdays’ Story

The CEO of a famous company called Professional Placement Resources had brought in a wonderful practice to their customer service. Every Thursday, all the employees had to send a minimum of 3 Thank you notes to both their internal and external customers.

By mandating such a practice, the CEO had cultivated a tradition of appreciation and fostered the growth of a movement within the company. Employees began to enjoy themselves at work and customers were not just surprised but very pleased to see a company taking effort to make their customers feel wanted.

The Urge To Do It Before The Other

The reason people were taking up the Ice Bucket Challenge was that they wanted to do it before the others. Everybody loves a little bit of harmless competition. The Contagion theory study stands testimony to how employee emotions are linked to customer’s emotions.

There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, (which) is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.

– Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play 

This encourages the employees to playfully engage in competitive work, thereby driving motivation and productivity.

Traditional Methods Are Dead

We need new trends in clothing each season. Our choice of food has evolved phenomenally in the past. We do not even drive the same car we drove 10 years ago. Yet, we have categorically stuck to the same type of customer service that worked a decade ago.

One Joke To Bind Them All

Grantwood Technology brought in a healthy practice where they effectively engaged not just their employees but also their customers. They asked all their employees to come up with a fun joke as the opening line of all their customer service emails. Believe it or not, customers were a lot more enthused and excited to read and reply to emails.

Enabling your employees to have fun at work, encouraging them to motivate one another is an Ice bucket challenge in itself. I intend to start this movement at HappyFox. I nominate all of you. You have 24 hours. Good luck!

 

Murali Satagopan

Customer service blogger, HappyFox enthusiast.