Pretend Customer Service


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I’m going to share a secret with you that only my parents, siblings and wife currently know. When I was a child I had an imaginary friend and his name was…wait for it…Elsie Boy. I can’t chips-drinkfor the life of me remember how I came up with that name but clearly my vivid imagination was an early indicator that I was an extremely gifted child. Ok I’m actually pretty normal but I thought that might be a nice segue to my point.

Over the weekend I visited the lovely mountain town of Big Bear, California. In search of lunch, I stopped at the local VONS supermarket (Safeway for those of you outside of Southern California) and ordered a sandwich from the deli. The sandwich was $5.49 and they had a special deal where I would get chips and a soft drink at no extra charge. I was craving an iced green tea from the Starbucks across the way so I opted only for the bag of chips.

When it was time to pay, the girl behind the counter asked me if I wanted a drink. She indicated that I would save money if I got chips and a drink. I responded with, “I don’t really want a drink. Is there any way you can pretend I got a drink?” Without any hesitation she said “Sure, why not,” grabbed a cup from a stack and scanned it.

As the customer, I know I asked for a bit of customization, but the VONS employee was up for the challenge. She could have stuck to her guns and said “No, you have to get a drink to get the deal.” How often have you encountered a customer service professional that could only see things one way when just the tiniest bit of creativity would delight the customer? In this case, the ability to play a little game of make believe with the customer was a key ingredient to delivering awesome customer service.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeremy Watkin
Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Support and CX at NumberBarn. He has more than 20 years of experience as a contact center professional leading highly engaged customer service teams. Jeremy is frequently recognized as a thought leader for his writing and speaking on a variety of topics including quality management, outsourcing, customer experience, contact center technology, and more. When not working he's spending quality time with his wife Alicia and their three boys, running with his dog, or dreaming of native trout rising for a size 16 elk hair caddis.


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