The Power Of The Words “Of Course”

Over the years of my customer service journey, I always enjoyed being able to answer “Yes” to a guest question. First of all, no one likes being told “No”. “We’ll get to that in a moment.

But years back, as a manager at a Colorado cave and theme park, I dealt with a litany of both guest and employee issues over the course of the day. In some cases, I was being called to help a guest with a problem or question, but many times it was staff, many of whom were younger and shy around management. On my first week, I decided that when I arrived to deal with an issue, the first words out of my mouth were always” How can I help”. These are very disarming words that fit virtually any situation you are called upon in customer service, or with staff. They even make sense when you arrive with no information as to what the situation is about.  “How can I help” can open any customer situation positively. But I digress. This was supposed to be about the words “Of course”.

When these staff or guests asked me any question that could be answered with “Yes”, I used “Of course” most of the time. Why? What difference does it make? The power of the words “Of course” enthusiastically coming out of your mouth, says so many things. It emphatically says “Yes”, for starters, but it says it in a way that appears as though its important for you to help them, and you know it. It says that you are genuine, in that you are happy to assist. It conveys that you take your profession seriously.

There is a good, and not so good way to say anything, but these examples are paramount in customer communication. They create the safe space I have written about earlier, and help to create a welcome environment in your business. Taking the time to choose your words, and avoid the same customer service “pickup lines” we’ve heard for years, does wonders in creating a place your guests or clients want to be in, bringing them back to you, when they have so many choices.

Other examples may be things like choosing “I am afraid we are out of that item” instead of, “No, we don’t have that”. You may say “For an additional $_____, I can add that”, versus “That will cost more”.  Telling a client that something they want is not possible is much easier if you tell them in a way that conveys the benefits of the alternative to what they wanted. Never just say “NO”…….NEVER! In fact, make a game out of figuring out how say “no” without using the words. Take some time with your front line to talk about these words and the effect they have.

There are countless ways you can come up with to say the things you say every day. In a way that separates you from the pack, and makes it clear to your guests, that you truly do care about their purchase experience. Can you do it?  OF COURSE!

Can “AI” Replace Human Empathy?

We have been seeing a lot lately, in regards to AI and Chat GTP, and its potential effects on business, employment, and the future of dealing with consumers. There is a fair amount of speculation surrounding this, and depending on what business you re in, if it is not already a part of your life, it most likely will be in one way or another.

Widespread use of service kiosks has become popular, especially in higher volume fast food restaurants, airports, and transportation hubs. Some say it makes ordering easier, minimizes mistakes made by humans, and automates a once human process. Every day, we learn a new task that AI has either mastered, or streamlined considerably. Despite all of these reports, I not only believe there are aspects of customer service AI will not duplicate any time soon, I think there are roles that will never be replaced by a thinking, feeling human. And despite how much consumers say they like the automation, I believe a shift back to human interaction will enjoy a renaissance in the future. I also think that if you wish to be  part of this return to human interaction, make sure that you are known as a business that never gave up on that much needed business component. 

AI may be able to learn a lot, and very quickly, but can it master the art of empathy? Sure, it can simulate it, but when a customer knows they are not dealing with a real human, will it come across to them as sincere. I don’t see how it could. Reading another human’s, and responding to them are something, at least at the moment, only a living human can do.

This will remain the case as long as those of us who deal with humans, remind those humans with our actions, that a “bot” will never replace human compassion and understanding. However, to make sure that our customers realize that, we must never stop interacting with compassion, and in a way that reminds them that personal care is king, and no AI can accomplish what another understanding person can.

My Devil’s advocate friend proposed an interesting question, Which is worse? AI simulating caring, or a human who doesn’t care, and is “simulating” it to stay employed, or in some cases, not even trying? Tough one to answer, but I still lean towards AI being worse, while some already argue that, at least, a bot gets their order correct.

Most humans need contact. Community. It’s what keeps us human. AI is taking over a lot of tasks in the near future. There is little doubt about that. I believe those of us on the customer front lines have the responsibility to demonstrate how humans treat each other, so as human contact is minimized by automation, those rare human interactions are meaningful, kind, and produce the results both parties were hoping for.

Training your staff to use the filter of differentiating themselves from AI, in every customer, guest, or client encounter will assure you stand out in the world as someone who wishes to deal with humans. I believe that someday, soon, that will become more important that you can imagine.