Holiday Customer Service Tips from the Movie ‘Elf’


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You prob­a­bly know the Christ­mas clas­sic, Elf, star­ring Will Fer­rell. It’s an uplift­ing tale of a human raised by elves who seeks out his real fam­ily, and in the process helps restore people’s faith in Christ­mas. As Buddy the Elf, Fer­rell has some very funny moments. But watch closely. He deliv­ers some great cus­tomer ser­vice tips too.

Keep them in mind this hol­i­day sea­son when you’re serv­ing a ‘bliz­zard’ of stressed-out cus­tomers while simul­ta­ne­ously man­ag­ing a ‘green’ sea­sonal sales force: When in doubt, ask “What would Buddy do?

  1. Greet each cus­tomer with a smile. When asked by the man­ager of Gimbel’s why he’s smil­ing, Buddy answers, “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” In cus­tomer ser­vice, a smile is essen­tial whether you’re greet­ing a cus­tomer in per­son or on the phone. (They can hear the smile in your voice.) Start every inter­ac­tion with a smile to show your friend­li­ness, approach­a­bil­ity and inter­est in your customer.
  2. Set the stage. “This is the North Pole,” said the Gimbel’s man­ager. “No it’s not; where’s the snow?” asked Buddy. In the movie, Buddy takes it upon him­self to cre­ate the envi­ron­ment that ‘sells’ the cus­tomers on Christ­mas pur­chases. Take a look at your sales environment—whether it’s a phys­i­cal retail space for your cus­tomers or a space where your employ­ees work behind the scenes. Make your space as fes­tive and pro­duc­tive as pos­si­ble, to set the stage for business.
  3. Lend a hand. Buddy tries to help every­one he meets. Train your employ­ees to look for ways to help cus­tomers. In the retail envi­ron­ment, that might include pre-wrapping your most pop­u­lar gifts, hold­ing cus­tomer pack­ages in a secure loca­tion, or giv­ing them a com­pli­men­tary bev­er­age or hol­i­day candy. For phone orders, this might include free ship­ping for loyal cus­tomers, shorter wait times or hol­i­day coupons. These lit­tle niceties go a long way toward build­ing cus­tomer loyalty.
  4. Match the employee to the job. Buddy was not a good elf. He couldn’t keep up with the other elves on the toy assem­bly line. But he was great at cre­at­ing Christ­mas spirit. If you can match your employ­ees’ strengths to the job, you’ll be amazed at how pro­duc­tive they will be.
  5. Train employ­ees to han­dle stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. Not every cus­tomer will be in a hol­i­day mood. In fact, many will be over­whelmed with hol­i­day stress. It will be impor­tant to teach employ­ees how to engage cus­tomers to make the shop­ping expe­ri­ence as seam­less as possible.
  6. Make fam­ily impor­tant. Wal­ter, Buddy’s bio­log­i­cal dad, even­tu­ally does the right thing by choos­ing fam­ily over a bul­ly­ing boss. Your employ­ees have fam­i­lies too. And you could be ask­ing them to work long, and often incon­ve­nient, hours dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Let their fam­i­lies know you appre­ci­ate their loved ones by send­ing a note home to thank them for allow­ing the fam­ily mem­ber to con­tribute to the company’s suc­cess. This will help build employee loy­alty.
  7. Thank your employ­ees. Buddy’s younger brother Michael thanked Buddy for help­ing him defeat a gang of bul­lies in a snow­ball fight. What have your employ­ees helped you to do? Be sure to thank them. Post­ing a thank you bul­letin board is one way com­pa­nies pub­licly acknowl­edge employ­ees’ efforts.

Pre­dict a happy end­ing. The movie Elf ends hap­pily ever after. Your sales sea­son can too. Ensure that by incor­po­rat­ing sales incen­tives, whether it’s bonus pay or gifts. Most of today’s sea­sonal employ­ees are the gen­er­a­tion of “Mil­len­ni­als,” and they appre­ci­ate incen­tive pay.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jodi Beuder
We help organizations create a positive connection between customers and brands. We promote synergy through integration as it builds on the decades of collective history of renowned expertise. MHI Global is your comprehensive source for customer-management excellence solutions to compete in today's ever-changing, customer-centric environment.


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