When Providing Customer Service, Give an Oscar-worthy Performance

Red CarpetSometimes it takes an award-winning performance to provide excellent customer care, especially when problems are weighing on your mind. Maybe you’re dealing with the turmoil of having your credit card stolen. Perhaps your daughter failed a class or your partner forgot your birthday. You can do your absolute best to put the concerns of your personal life aside at work, but it’s so challenging to stay in a positive mindset when you come face-to-face with a crabby, complaining customer.

How do you hold it together when you feel like falling apart?

Just ask the employees at Preston Wynne Spa, a successful company featured in chapter 7 of “Who’s Your Gladys?” This high end spa’s CEO Peggy Wynne Borgman and her staff have adapted the advice of my dear friend Holly Stiel, who recommends viewing the start of a workday like the start of a performance.

Customer service expert Holly Stiel recommends viewing the start of a workday like the start of a performance.

“Your uniform is your service costume, and your workplace is the stage. To give great service, it’s helpful to consider yourself an actor playing a role with as much sincerity as possible,” Holly advises. She encourages everyone to make a conscious choice about how to “act” within the service provider role.

This got me thinking about my expectations as a customer. When I go to the movies, I expect the actors to give a captivating performance. I enjoy watching the leading man woo his love interest. It could very well be that in “real life,” the actor is going through a bitter divorce. It simply wouldn’t work to bring his personal problems into his leading man role.

Mo’Nique won an Oscar last night playing the part of Mary Jones from the movie Precious. She embodied the challenging role of a criminally abusive mother and was fully present in her performance. As a performing artist, she brought a highly challenging role to life.

Imagine yourself bringing the role of a caring customer service provider to life.

Have you ever noticed that when you say you believe something to be true, you’re sometimes tested? I believe that customer service is more than a skill, it’s an art. I was tested a few weeks ago. I was booked to fly to Wisconsin. Even though my husband and son suffered with a stomach virus for four days the week before, I stayed healthy, until 4 a.m. the morning of my flight.

I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get on that plane, let alone lead a workshop for managers AND a customer service keynote the following day. At 6 a.m., I called my coauthor Lori Jo Vest and told her, “I’m sick!” Thank God for Lori! She helped me to step into the role of service provider and do what was best for our client, who was bringing together 150 employees to see me for their annual event. The company had bought a book for everyone too, so finding a replacement speaker was out of the question. I made a call to my doctor, convinced him to prescribe something that would help, and was on the plane by 10 a.m.

As strange as it might sound, I believe it wasn’t as much the medicine that got me through as it was the mindset. I chose to BE an enthusiastic, attentive presenter and somehow, despite a stomach virus, I was.

Guest Writer Bio: Marilyn Suttle is the co-author of the best-selling customer service book, “Who’s Your Gladys? How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan.” She is president of Suttle Enterprises, a training firm through which she has taught thousands across the country how to have happier, more productive relationships with customers, coworkers, and even their children. For more information, visit: www.whosyourgladys.com.

photo credit: Eva Cristescu

One Response to “When Providing Customer Service, Give an Oscar-worthy Performance”

  1. Nancy said:

    Apr 12, 10 at 8:18 pm

    hmmm…but I don’t want to be a performer or an actor. Can’t I just do a good job and not put on an act?