What Christmas Movies Can Teach You About Customer Service

by Annie Franceschi, Brand Creator & Storytelling Consultant

Did you know that — if you look for them — you can find great business + career advice in your favorite holiday movies?

Let’s take a closer look at two modern Christmas classics that make you laugh, make you cry, and — as I’ll show you today — can teach you how to be better at customer service!

Love Actually

The Customer Service Problem:
Communicating Effectively with Clients + Customers

When it comes to Love Actually, I’m thinking of the famous “gift wrapping” scene.

Alan Rickman’s character, who is married, tries sneakily to buy a necklace for his office secretary from the store clerk, played by Rowan Atkinson.
 As you’ll see in the below clip, the clerk makes this purchase and its gift wrapping a painfully long, drawn-out process, which is clearly the worst nightmare for Alan Rickman in this moment.

(I’ll leave out the fact that this storyline is a total bummer and we’ll just focus on the business lessons here.)

You can watch the scene below.

So what we can we learn from this from a business perspective?

The Movie Lesson:
Pay attention to your client/customer’s social cues for more effective communication and a more positive client experience.

Whether you work closely with clients or only occasionally interact with customers, do your best to read their emotional and visual cues.

Clearly, in the scene from the movie, Alan Rickman is in a hurry and very upset the gift wrapping is taking so long. What’s tough (but also funny) to watch is how oblivious Rowan Atkinson is, not to mention how crazy true it is that packages can get super over-wrapped these days.

In the real world, try to read the room when you’re talking to a client or customer.

This might be as simple as picking up the phone to have a conversation if email is creating confusion, or choosing to ask how someone is before you launch into a business discussion. The result can be a more productive conversation for both of you, and a better experience/impression of you from the client’s perspective.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

The Customer Service Problem:
Making Your Clients/Customers Feel Appreciated

In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin McAllister’s been accidentally separated from his family (again) and this time — he’s on his own in New York City. Armed with his dad’s credit card, he heads to a premier NY toy store: Duncan’s Toy Chest.

Its owner, Mr. Duncan, checks Kevin out at the cash register and tells him how all the Christmas purchases are going towards a local kids charity. Moved by the story, Kevin donates his own $20 bill.

From there, Mr. Duncan does something special and meaningful for Kevin in turn. He gifts him an ornament of two turtle doves. He tells Kevin he can give one of them to a friend, and keep the other, as a symbol of friendship.

Later in the film (spoiler!), Kevin does exactly this — giving one of the doves to his friend, the homeless woman he meets in Central Park. The ornament gets a new life as a special, meaningful gift that solidifies their newfound friendship.

So what does that mean for us?

The Movie Lesson:
Give your version of the thoughtful ornament to your clients to make them feel appreciated and inspire their continued support of you.

Let me put it this way: have you found ways to show thoughtfulness, love, and appreciation for your clients or customers this year?

This can be everything from big gestures (client gifts) to small things, like a well-timed thank you email.

This all about asking yourself — what ways are you showing the people who support your business that you care about them, and what ways can you be (and afford to be) more generous with them?

Up for one more film? Find out what’s hidden in 1994’s Miracle on 34th Street on LinkedIn here.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thanks so much for reading.

This article originally appeared with 3 films (Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, and Home Alone 2) along with an exclusive 5-page PDF of customer service advice in the Greatest Story for Business Newsletter, “Skip to Action.” Join for free and get weekly business advice like this in your inbox here.