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Your Song

The new John Lewis Christmas advert was released last week. I have to confess, I’ve watched this several times on YouTube, as Elton John’s Your Song has to be one of my favourite songs of all time. As a teenager, when this was first released, I would play it over and over; it’s one of the few songs from which I could recite every word.  And because my mum loved it too, each time I hear it, it reminds me of her.

What has this got to do with your customer service culture?

This prompted me to think about 2 things which are important factors in creating a service culture:

Emotional triggers and anchors

We are surrounded by things that can impact our emotional state or our mood. And these are so easily picked up by customers. This is fine when it’s a positive emotional state, or a state that helps us to get into rapport with the customer.

Not so good when it’s a complete mismatch, or when we have negative emotions which are picked up by the customer, albeit subconsciously.

These emotional states can be prompted by the things other people say or do (when we’re surrounded by mood Hoovers, it’s inevitable this rubs off), the day’s events (e.g. missing the bus, or getting stuck in traffic, so we are late for work), or even our anticipation of future events (you’re not looking forward to speaking to that particularly difficult customer).

But, as in my case with hearing Your Song, it could be a sound, such as piece of music or birdsong, it could be a scent or a particular smell, it might be the touch or feel of something real or imagined. Or it might simply be recalling a scene from a movie, a fun night out with friends, or the first time you saw a particularly amazing view. Any of these things have the capacity to change someone’s emotional state, but it will be different triggers for different emotions and different triggers the different people.

So, how does all this relate to customer service?

If we know that some states will have a negative impact on the customer experience, we need to look to changing that state to one that is appropriate.

Firstly, we need to break the negative state. Simply by changing our physiology can help (think how we are on a car long journey and we are feeling sleepy, if we get out of the car and walk around for a few minutes we’ll normally feel more alert).

But we then want to replace this with a more positive state; so, the trick is to identify what triggers will work for you to elicit the right state.

Putting that into context, for me, hearing Your Song makes me feel rather sad, so although this very easily elicits an emotion, it might not be the emotion I want when I’m dealing with a customer. So, if I wanted to get into a very happy state, I know – for me – picturing a particular scene from the film The Full Monty always brings a smile to my face.

What’s Your Song? And the trigger that’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face?

And just as important, what’s the one thing that is guaranteed to bring a smile to their face for each of your team. You don’t have to know what this is, but it’s important that they do, so they can get into that happy state, even when their day has got off to a bad start.

The second factor in creating a service culture? I’ll come back to that next week.