Ever since I was little, I’ve loved Star Wars. When Episodes I, II and III came out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I enjoyed those very much. But there was always something about the characters from episodes IV, V and VI – Luke, Leia, R2D2, Chewie, C3PO and Han Solo as a team – that I connected with and hoped to experience again. Now, after a 32 year wait, the force awakens…
So what does this team of characters from Star Wars have to do with customer service? It reminds me that:
1. Individuals with different but key strengths (leadership, knowledge, technical expertise and care) can form a powerful customer service team.
Luke Skywalker would easily service as the always determined individual who believes it’s his destiny to serve the customer. He’s learned and trained his way to the top, and believes that each customer, no matter how angry they may seem, has good in them and can be helped. Most importantly, he believes in the power of the force, which in the case of customer service, is a strong customer-focused culture.
Princess Leia on a customer service team might be a senior leader who keeps everyone focused and on task. She may come across as tough, but her willingness to stand up for what she believes is right and what needs to be said and done for the customer inspires the organization. Because everyone knows how much she cares about the customer and the team, they support her and stand ready to save her skin, if needed.
R2D2 is the tech-savvy team member of the team, connecting everyone with the data, intelligence or technology they need, just when they need it. He shows how humans and technology work better together, and as a bonus, he’s usually the go-to guy to fix things in a pinch.
Chewbacca is the protector, supporter and caretaker for the customer and team – always there to help out on a tough customer call, be the wingman when extra support or another hand is needed, to promote empathy, or help collect and put a team member back together at the end of a rough day just like C3PO after he was shot down and dismantled in Cloud City.
C3PO is the knowledge center for the team, making sure everyone complies with (or at least knows) the rules, policies, procedures, products, services and proper customer etiquette. He’s a wealth of information that keeps everyone grounded, and also helps facilitate communication between team members.
Han Solo is the one who brings the much-needed fun, energy, grit and empowerment to customer service. He never goes by a customer service script, and is ready to punch it when it comes to getting the team where they need to go.
Not every team encompasses these team strengths in separate individuals, but these individual strengths create and support a mighty force.
2. The best customer service teams are united and empowered by the force.
Operating as individuals, the characters above would all interact with the customer in very different ways; they’d probably have a very hard time, or perhaps never come together as, a cohesive team.
In leading organizations, however, the company culture serves as a powerful force which bonds individuals with varying personalities and strengths to the same goal or purpose, to each other, and to the brand or organization they represent. A customer-focused culture, for example, makes every employee not just a brand representative, but a customer service representative.
But the key is not just creating and achieving a force which ties people and teams together; it’s maintaining a greater belief and support in it through engagement, knowledge, training, communication and care.
When that is achieved, you not only have the opportunity to bring together and empower a strong and memorable team, but deliver a memorable, enjoyable experience that customers look forward to coming back to again and again.