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Five Customer Service Lessons Plucked Straight From Fairy Tales

Fairy tales are such exciting and complex stories. They fill us with wonder and awe as we read about heroines being saved by princes. 

These tales also have a dark side in which jealousy arises, typically from a wicked stepmother or witch who is envious of the beauty of the main female character (yes, Cinderella and Snow White, we're talking about you).

Such stories have a moral tale behind them. Usually, lust, greed, and hatred never win in the end. Fairy tales can also provide us with lessons that guide and steer customer service.

Let's run you through five such lessons.

1. Stay on the path

Little Red Riding Hood seems like such a sweet girl. She was so excited to go and visit Grandma. Little Red's mother told her to stay on the path through the forest. 

There's always danger lurking amongst the thicket of trees. 

Yet, Little Red had a rebellious streak. She would listen to mum but finding another way to her destination is tempting. That led her to detour off the path. 

In her alternative route, she meets a wolf. We all know how things turn out after that encounter.

With your customer service, you have set policies and procedures. These have been created to deliver the best support possible. They are the forest path that guides you to your destination: happy, satisfied customers.

A deviation off the path can lead you to be devoured, metaphorically speaking. A customer rep who decides to do things their way could inadvertently deliver poor customer support. 

When customers feel they aren't getting the support they need, it can have them looking at jumping ship. You are getting devoured by the wolf of substandard customer support.

2. Keep track of the journey

Hansel and Gretel were taken out to the forest by their stepmother and left there. However, Hansel was an enterprising young lad. 

He left a trail of breadcrumbs to avoid getting lost as he and his sister traveled through the forest. It was his way of keeping track of their journey.

Unfortunately, some hungry birds spied on the crumbs and ate them. The result was Hansel, and Gretel got completely lost in the forest. 

How does all this relate to customer support? Think of your CMS.

You want to keep track of your customer's journey through the support channels. Where did they enter into the system, and where are they now? Each piece of data entered into the system by your customer support team is a breadcrumb. 

The birds that devour the breadcrumbs could be data that isn't inputted into the CMS, a bug in the software that accidentally deletes some information, or information entered into the wrong area of the CMS.

When the breadcrumbs are gone, it's easy for you to lose track of exactly where in the support journey your customer is. That can have your customer frustrated as they need to start from the beginning again. 

It makes you look incompetent and can damage your reputation.

Prevent the birds from eating your breadcrumbs by ensuring that your support team pays careful attention to what they are doing. They shouldn't rush through the support. The details need to be recorded accurately in the correct area of your CMS. 

Back up the data from your CMS. That protects the information from being completely lost. 

Taking care of the breadcrumbs will allow you to track your customer's journey through your support system easily. You can easily spot any areas where you fall short in your customer service and take corrective action. 

3. Don't make wild claims

In Rumplestiltskin, a father boasts about his daughter's ability to spin gold out of straw. The person, the father, was bragging to was none other than the king. 

Impressed by the claim, the king takes the daughter and places her in a chamber full of straw. He tells her to turn all the straw into gold. The problem is that the girl never had the ability and has her father to thank for her predicament. 

Coming to her rescue is a mysterious dwarf who hears what has happened. He says he can help her if she gives him a gift. She agrees and gives him a piece of her jewelry. The dwarf gets busy and spins the straw. 

Astounded by the result, the king takes the girl and places her in a bigger room with more straws. Again the dwarf comes to her aid (in exchange for another gift). The king is once more amazed and marries the daughter.

Excellent customer service is about underpromising and overdelivering. Unfortunately, what we learn from the Rumpelstiltskin is that when you boast about something, you are left with having to come up with the goods. 

The father knew his daughter didn't have the skill to spin simple straw into gold. Yet, the king was ignorant and believed the father. 

Making unrealistic claims about how great your customer service is can cause a lot of stress for the support staff on the front line. They are left with figuring out how to deliver the goods. You have negatively affected staff morale just so your ego is satisfied.

Boast about how good your company's customer service is, but don't make unsubstantiated promises. Use customer testimonials to support your claims. 

Never overpromise. You are setting yourself up for failure.

4. Be careful of jealousy

In Cinderella, we have a young lady stuck living with a stepmother and stepsisters who despised her. A similar theme is found in Snow White, where a wicked witch is jealous of the beauty of Snow White. 

The jealousy caused the antagonists to devote their time to devising ways to keep Cinderella and Snow White oppressed. These two young ladies were considered unworthy of receiving any happiness and joy in life. 

Looking at a competitor's customer service success may highlight something that your customer support is lacking. That success may have you envious of your competition. 

Like the antagonists in Cinderella and Snow White, you may want to destroy your competitor's victory. Instead of focusing on how to fix your customer support issues, you contemplate ways to ruin the triumphs of your competitor.

Yet, the stories of Cinderella and Snow White teach us that the heroines win in the end. The efforts of the antagonists not only didn't work but backfired. 

Don't spend your efforts trying to bring down your competition. Look at why their customer support works so well and see what aspects you can bring to your company. Reach out to them and see if they are willing to work with you to upgrade your customer support. 

By doing so, everyone gets to win over their prince (metaphorically, your customers will reward you with love and devotion).

5. Be willing to take a dare

Jack was sent to sell the family cow in Jack and the Beanstalk. He took a gamble and swapped the cow for some magic beans. 

His mother was less than happy when he came home with the beans. Planting them in his yard, they grow into a beanstalk reaching the sky. Climbing the beanstalk, Jack discovers a giant's house in which he discovers personal items the giant has stolen from Jack's household. 

Jack recovers the items and takes them back home.

When it comes to customer service, you don't have to be conservative all the time. Some people like to play safe, but the actual rewards can come when you step out of your comfort zone. 

Try something daring, like highlighting the times you got customer service wrong. Then ask your customers for feedback on what they would do to fix those issues. 

Another idea could be that you offer several customers a VIP treatment in which they become the heads of customer service for a week. Let them become your boss. 

Let your imagination run wild as to what you can do that is different.

The point is not to be scared to take a gamble. Jack did, and it paid off for his family. 

Reread the fairy tales

We have just offered a mere sprinkling of the lessons fairy tales can teach us around customer service. You can learn much more from these stories that will help you enhance your customer support team.

Maybe you can have your support team read one fairy tale a week. Then brainstorm what support lessons the tale has taught the team. Update your support manual with these new insights.

Enjoy using these as a tool to develop and grow your customer service. The result is that you, your business, and your customers will all live happily ever after.

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