Customer engagement in 3 minutes. With Little Britain.

Posted by on Sep 14, 2016 in creativity, customer service | No Comments


What do you do when you’ve not got what your customer’s after? Little Britain’s shopkeeper, Roy, shows us how to engage with a customer.

“I’m looking to buy a painting of a disappointed horse.”

Customers have different needs. And Roy’s customer, Mr Mann, has specific, and some might say unique, needs. His request might not fit with the products or services Roy has on offer. But he thinks creatively for alternatives.

In your company, what can you offer a customer that fulfils their needs? And if you don’t have the product they’re after can you offer an attractive alternative? All the better if, like Roy, you can provide a few simple options for the customer. People like choice – it lets them shape the outcome. Yet, too much choice can be dizzying so be careful not to offer too many options.

Perturbed and unfulfilled

If your suggestions don’t hit the spot, seek help. Ask a colleague or take your customer’s contact details. Make a few enquiries on their behalf and get back to them. And the sooner you get back to them the better. This shows that you’re as good as your word and that you’re efficient in getting things done. Two things they can pass on to their colleague, aunt or hairdresser about your great customer service and how you were willing to go the extra mile to help.

In the Little Britain sketch there’s a nod, a smile and a long silence between customer and shopkeeper whilst Roy waits for support from his colleague, Margaret. This is great for comedy. In real life, however, this is an ideal opportunity for you to develop engagement with your customer. Get to know their needs better. Ask thoughtful questions about their needs which builds rapport and trust.

A flicker of hope

For example, a few years ago I was talking to a financial service’s client who didn’t have any need at that time for the communication training courses I deliver. However, after five minutes I’d discovered they were interested in a customer service course. Result? I put together a proposal for a customer care course, subsequently won the business and created a new product. All this from a 5 minute phone call where my initial offer didn’t interest the customer.

So the next time your customer is after something that’s not exactly what you offer, ask a few well-placed questions to figure out their needs and explore if you can change in order to be of service.

Result? You’ve got a customer who’s neither vexed, irked nor inconvenienced.

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