Customer service philosophies from the cartoon world

As an adult, I can honestly say, I’ve learned a lot from cartoons. Bugs Bunny’s instant black hole and Wyle E. Coyote’s antics aside, the business of cartoons impressed many customer service techniques on me while I worked for a large cartoon retail store during college. And many of those ideals still crop up on a daily basis. The company wasn’t Nordstrom’s or Tiffany and Co., but the expectations I have for customer service is largely based on what I learned surrounded by Marvin the Martian figurines and Tasmanian Devil T-shirts. And it quickly became apparent those skills transcended work – they were skills for life.

Never say “I don’t know” – This phrase was a big red X in the cartoon world. We were expected to replace it with “I will find out for you.” And, over the years, it’s really worked for me. When anyone asks me a question, if I don’t know, I’ll find out. Granted, Google has made things a lot easier in this realm, but for the most part, when you are known as someone who can either find the answer or exhaust all possible resources trying, it creates trust and dependability. Every client, no matter the business, wants those two traits.

Say “please” and “thank you” – This should be a no-brainer but it’s commonly forgotten. I can’t tell you how many times a “thank you” would’ve made a stressful situation better or “please” makes doing a daunting task less daunting.

Be nice – Whether you’re letting down a hopeful mother who just wanted a Tiny Toons T-shirt for her toddler or speaking to a client who is having a generally bad day and taking it out on you, nice is usually the way to go. “Kill them with kindness” has never been more true. Understanding where someone is coming from also helps. We’ve all had bad days, but it makes it a little easier to take when the person delivering the bad news is nice about it.

Call or e-mail people back when they reach out to you – In a world of Facebook, text messages and smart phones, the only means left out of our modern communication reach are antiquated smoke signals, pigeons and Morris Code. The other ways are more convenient when you’re trying to reach someone but not as convenient when you’re the person being reached. In the cartoon retail business, building relationships with other stores meant calling them back and sending them inventory when they needed it – promptly. This method applies to business and real life. When you call people back, they know you respect them. Even if it’s answering a question via text, getting back to people is important.

If it’s just as easy for you to do, do it – When a customer asked for a size or character we didn’t have at the store, we would offer to call another store. It seems simple enough, but there have been many times I’ve been in stores and the option is just not available. I have to do it myself. Today, there are many things in life I would rather people do themselves, but sometimes going the extra mile creates contentment. For example, a client calls and makes a simple request. It’s probably just as easy for them to find the answer themselves, but when you do it, you get more out of the relationship – dependability. In a sense, you just made their lives easier if only for a few minutes.

Follow up – Following up with clients who purchased high-end animation artwork at the store was the stronghold of the company’s customer service. Did the framed piece arrive in time for Timmy’s birthday? Did the sculpture of Daffy Duck arrive intact? If a client had a big meeting, follow up to see how it went. The feeling that someone cares goes along way.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call – In an e-mail-heavy world, it’s easy to get caught up sending an e-mail instead of picking up the phone. There is nothing to lose by speaking to someone voice to voice. Sometimes, a person on the other end makes all the difference. Swallowing a communication form of stage fright may make the difference between a positive experience where everything gets done quickly and a slow moving one filled with frustration and miscommunication.

These ideals go beyond just working in retail – they work in everyday business as well, no matter your line of work. Customer service isn’t just about the customer; it’s about the people around you and the environment you create. A positive environment creates positive results. And it’s pretty difficult not to be positive around cartoons.

Thanks, Bugs Bunny.

Tiffannie Bond is the media relations specialist at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Tiffannie at tbond@imnv.com

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