The Secret to Awesome Customer Experience: Watermelon
Lately I have been thinking about customer service and, as always, you can find tons of information online like “15 ways to improve customer service at your business” or “10 ways to find true love with customers” and many other posts you can learn from.
My perception on the subject is simpler and highly related to fruit, watermelon in particular, and that’s because of a story that took place 17 years ago.
When I was little we used to rent rooms in a tiny village called Xerokambos, without TVs or WiFi, just a big courtyard and crystal waters at your fingertips. One summer day we were expecting a young couple to arrive in the morning. Time passed and they were nowhere to be seen when eventually they arrived late in the afternoon.
As soon as the young woman stepped out of the car, she exploded. She started yelling at my father’s face, moving her hands in the air frustrated accusing my dad of lying. What was her problem? She was furious as she couldn’t see the beautiful beaches my dad had talked to her about.
I remember my father being quiet while she was shouting and only when the outbreak finished, he calmly asked her for her name. He called up to my mom to bring some watermelon and literally took the couple by their hands and led them to a “the bench”. The bench has to be the best spot in the whole courtyard, overlooking to the beach and over to “Kavalos” the rock that looks like a giant floating on the sea with his head turned to the sky. It was then when dad started talking about that rock and the mythological stories about it, how he used to visit the village riding his donkey when he was a kid and about all the small beaches of the village and what’s so special about each one of them.
By the end of the talk the young couple had become best friends with my dad and even went for a late night’s swim at the beach right by the house (cause hey, there’s a beach there)
When I was alone with my father I laughed and said that “she must be blind not seeing all the beaches, the sea is like 3 steps from here! Is she stupid or something?” What my dad said is something I keep as a principle until today.
Don’t be a jerk Ioanna, they took the ferry over from Athens, that’s a 10 hour trip, then they drove to Xerocambos, another 3–4 hours, the road is very bad and they most probably lost their way coming here. She was so tired she couldn’t even see her nose, let alone the beaches. She needed time to calm down, cold watermelon and a good story always help bring the heat down.
My dad had never read “10 tips for dealing with rude or angry customers” or any other online article. His reaction was the simplest yet most thoughtful and since then I always keep in mind the watermelon principle, what for me sums up these 6 points I recognised in my dad’s behavior:
- Get in the other person’s shoes
- Let them speak and really listen to what they have to say
- Take them to a happy place
- Be personal
- Create an experience
- Provide a solution that takes the burden away.
So next time you are faced with an angry customer try to empathize and offer them some cold watermelon.
That could be as easy as a simple smile.
Originally published at ioannablogs.com on June 3, 2015.