Magic Customer Service

A few days ago I was out to eat and the restaurant had a magician that went from table to table doing some pretty cool tricks – card tricks, simple illusions, etc. These magicians make a meal entertaining and are especially popular at family restaurants like the one I was at.

Can you think of some questions that magicians are likely asked?

  • How did you learn to do this?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • (And hopefully) Do you give lessons and/or do private shows?

But probably the most popular question asked (especially by younger spectators):

  • Could you show me how to do that?

I know I asked that question quite a bit when I was younger, and no one really told me anything. The magicians always told a part of a trick, and then used that explanation to lead into another trick. Good showmanship, but bad customer service. In the end, there was no trick revealed and I was somewhat disappointed.

However, the magician a few days ago had a different and far better solution. A boy about 9 or 10 asked the magician “How did you do that?” Instead of the canned response “It’s magic.” the magician said: “I can’t tell you how I did this trick – it’s a secret, but I can show you another trick.” The magician then showed the boy a simple, but nonetheless cool, card trick.

In the end, everyone was happy. The boy’s parents gave the magician a tip (which I would assume was larger than the average tip he gets for just doing the tricks), the boy learned a card trick, and everyone was entertained. I’m sure by the end of the night, quite a few other children (and adults) learned that trick and were equally happy.

That’s the power of having creative solutions to common problems/questions. The magician mastered that and ended up not only having more satisfied and entertained spectators, but likely, making more money. You should try and do that with your company.

For example, many companies have to manually process orders. Some prefer to manually check for fraud, others have to check inventory, pack items, charge chards over a different method, manually setup accounts, etc. Do most of these companies have creative ways to make that step of the service experience better? Doubtfully.
Some things these companies could do, depending on the timeframe (I’m assuming setup time is one hour or less):

  • Ask customers to visit the company’s forum in the meantime. This way the customer can register, poke around, read a few things, meet some other customers, etc. A half hour or so is enough time for a customer to tell whether they like the forums or not and whether or not they want to continue visiting.
  • Ask customers to visit the company blog. An alternative to the method above – ask customers to view the company’s blog, or most recent newsletter. Have an incentive for the customer to actually visit (aka add value) such as getting some usage tips, how-tos, coupons that can be used later, etc.
  • (Video) tutorials. Have some sort of visual way a customer can learn how to use their new product or service. Something that’ll get them excited about their new product or service and is actually useful. Demos, tutorials, helpful and engaging documentation, etc.
  • Check order status. Everyone wants to be able to check order status. Have a way for your customers to check and see what’s going on (i. e. Step 1: Fraud Verification. Step 2: Payment Received. etc.). Have it so the status is updated every few minutes and the customer can follow along in real time.
  • Play a game. Some may find it tacky, others may find it entertaining. I’ve seen a company or two that has an option to play some classic arcade games (such as Pac-Man, Sonic, etc.) online after ordering and before setup. It’s definitely unique. You may want to consider having someone make a Flash game that has to do with your business (be creative!).
  • Be creative. The key is to be creative. Have something engaging, interesting, educational, etc. for your customers to do in the mean time.

See the point? If you’re creative, use a bit of logic, and really focus on how to make the experience better, your customer service will be magical.