Customer Service in Film Clips – Expectations vs. Reality
Hollywood provides an interesting insight into the world of customer service. How accurate that insight is, however, is debatable. We’re used to seeing the stereotypical customer service consultant in one of two ways.
They’re either sassy but loveable or hopelessly inept and bored out of their minds. In reality, being a call center agent is something of a calling. Those in the front lines are adept at dealing with clients and enjoy the interaction.
Firms in the real world are increasingly likely to outsource support because of how important customer service is. They’d rather hire SupportYourApp professionals to ensure that their clients get the service that they deserve.
The Hollywood portrayal of the uncaring, bored consultant is far from realistic. Let’s discuss some glaring errors producers make.
Consultants Don’t Listen to the Client
There are cases where agents ignore clients or talk over them in the movies. It makes it easy for producers to insert cute little misunderstandings that make for good plot twists.
In reality, support companies spend a lot of time training their consultants to practice active listening. With this technique, agents focus their full attention on what the client says. They let the customer talk out their issue without interrupting them.
Jumping to conclusions or assuming that you know what the client means is a recipe for disaster in the real world. It means missing out on vital clues that could help the agent pinpoint the solution.
In many instances, merely hearing an irate client out de-escalates the situation. So, while Hollywood expects agents to be bored and inattentive, such consultants seldom last long.
Agents Ignore Calls
In this funny clip from The IT Crowd, the agent allows the phone to ring endlessly. He finally deigns to answer the call but seems rather annoyed to do so. While it’s amusing for us, it’s not an accurate representation of a modern call center environment.
Today’s managers monitor productivity carefully. The software allows them to identify agents not able to cope with the volumes quickly.
Sales Consultant Focuses on an Unimportant Issue
Rowan Atkinson plays a sales consultant in Love Actually. He’s very polite and clearly dedicated to his job. Unfortunately, he’s rather too wrapped up in presenting the perfect gift. Despite his client’s protests, he takes forever to put the finishing touches on the present.
The client tells him several times that he’d like the parcel quickly. Viewers know instantly that he wants the present as a surprise for his mistress. He’d rather that his wife didn’t see it, which explains the need for speed. His wife is due to return any second. Rowan Atkinson’s character remains obtuse to that fact throughout.
While this is a somewhat extreme example, you could see something similar happening in real life. An over-enthusiastic consultant may be focused on providing the best possible service experience. In the process, they may zero in on the incorrect issue instead of listening to what the client wants.
Being Nasty to Clients
In the movie, Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts, the famous shopping scene provides a valuable customer service lesson. Julia’s character walks into an upmarket boutique, wearing an inappropriate outfit. The consultants treat her disrespectfully and ask her to leave. She returns the next day, wearing a more conservative outfit. She tells the consultants that they made a big mistake and lost a hefty commission.
While we’d be surprised to see a sales consultant treating a client so poorly today, it’s still a worthwhile lesson. Professional agents treat clients with respect. They look past outward appearances and create a stellar experience for each client.
What happened in the movie could very well happen in real life. If a customer feels slighted or undervalued, they will take their business elsewhere. More importantly, they’ll never wish to deal with your firm again.
Not Meeting Your Client’s Expectations
In a rather wicked Monty Python clip, we see our hero going to a cheese shop. He expects to buy cheese. In a rather long-winded interaction, the shop owner allows him to run through every possible variant.
As it turns out, there is no stock of anything. Our hero, in frustration, shoots the shopkeeper. It’s rather an extreme reaction, but one that’s understandable if you watch the skit. While customers don’t typically go to such lengths to voice their displeasure, the effect of not meeting their expectations can be equally dire.
Professional service and sales agents see the client’s basic expectations as a starting point. They work hard to exceed them, intending to delight the client. A good example is the scene from Love Actually.
Had our hero not been in a hurry, he would undoubtedly have appreciated the extra touches that Atkinson’s character added. The person receiving the gift would be delighted at the amount of effort that went into wrapping it.
Successful agents understand the client’s minimum expectations and priorities. They ensure that they work towards satisfying both to provide an outstanding service experience.
The Overzealous Agent Frightens Off a Client
Hollywood loves portraying the bold, brash agent that will do anything to make the sale. The “Show me the money” scene from Jerry Maguire illustrates the point perfectly.
In real life, however, that kind of audacity seldom plays out well. An overzealous agent may come across as too pushy and scare the client off. Professional consultants understand how to plant the seed of an idea in the customer’s mind.
They gently work with the client, leading them to decide that they need the product. This approach fosters the relationship and allows the customer to trust the agent better. The alternative, pushing them into making a decision, is more likely to convince them never to revisit the store.
The Hollywood portrayal of customer service may hit the right note occasionally. More often than not, however, it’s an unfair portrayal of the work that service professionals accomplish. With excellent support being the primary differentiating factor for businesses today, no company can afford to deliver anything less than stellar service.