This is one of the questions that is easy to answer but hard to explain. Basically, depending on your line of work you can either be obliged to use humor or forbidden. If you run an entertainment website and someone speaks to you over live chat, humor is probably in place. After all, entertainment is what your brand stands for.
On the other hand, if your business relates to divorce, injuries, mental health etc, customer service humor might not be appropriate. Now let us take a step back. There are countless lines of work that are pretty much neutral when it comes to the previous example.
So, what about other providers? Should they use customer service humor in live chats? To answer that we will examine this question from different angles and measure the pros and cons of using humor in customer service live chat software.
Use it as a part of the customer acquisition routine
Humor can be a powerful tool, in situations when you can create good customer experience. If the customer has doubts and feels anxious about something, you can use humor to help them relax. At least as long as there’s no reason for them to be worried about anything.
For example, a customer who hasn’t bought from you before, is bound to feel anxious while making their first purchase from you. You can ease their anxiety by incorporating slight customer service humor. This allows them to open up and have a more positive mindset about the online buying experience.
In these situations, humor in customer service will make your interactions more memorable, and your relationships more personal.
A customer who has had a pleasant experience is more likely to talk about it and to recommend you. This is why humor is something you may consider using. Unfortunately, these occasions can be rare. People who contact customer support are quite often frustrated and these situations are not the best for use of comedy.
Improve your performance review
You do not have to be a comedian to have funny customer service live chat, you can simply use gifs or emojis ? . Luckily there are platforms and occasions that allow their use. In fact, based on the small surveys that every customer gets after an interaction with a live chat operator, operators that used emojis received better reviews. In other words, if humor helps you come off as more friendly and helpful, then you should use it.
Don’t force customer service humor
One thing you should never do is try to navigate the conversation to the point where you can be funny. It will make you look unprofessional and it can result in a bad customer experience.
In other words, if your track record shows that using humor in customer service helped create effective interactions, then there was a reason for it. The reason is that the situation allowed for a use of humor.
Avoid bombarding customers with a bunch of unrelated emoticons just to force a fun and positive interaction. The opposite effect will occur as a result. You also don’t have to make a joke out of everything. Even if the customer appears to be in a positive mood by the tone of their replies.
You should allow for situation to decide
In the majority of cases, the situation will tell you whether you are can be funny or not. For example if a customer starts the conversation with a humorous remark it is quite obvious that you don’t need to be too formal. A great example of this is an interaction between Blizzard and one of their users who was banned due to inappropriate behavior in the video game.
It’s pretty obvious that customer support agent is being funny here even though he retains a formal way of expression. This kind of approach to a problem can surely mend the situation that started on the wrong foot.
If your customer support agent can gauge the customer’s mood and ascertain if it is alright to be funny, then they should go for it. Of course, not every situation will be as obvious as the one used in the example. But still, there will be a plethora of opportunities to show how creative in using humor in customer service your agents can be.
Make sure you don’t give off the wrong impression
The reason why you should tread lightly on the territory of humor is because it can give off the wrong impression. The worst-case scenario is that your agent can end up insulting a customer unintentionally, and burn all of the bridges for future interactions.
So, if there is even a sliver of uncertainty whether the situation permits the use of humor or not, avoid it. After all, it is not something your company should pursue at all costs. In other words, it can do more harm than good if the situation is unclear.
- A customer reveals an embarrassing/negative past experience regarding a product and you make a light joke out of their situation. Unknowingly, you’ve offended the customer to the point that they’ll never visit your website again. Never guess the sensitivity level of the customer.
- A customer perceives your company to be “unprofessional” after your agent kept on making witty jokes after every other reply.
Increase brand awareness
Last but not least, there are instances that can really boost your ratings as a company if you use humor in customer service to navigate through a situation. There’s a diverse range of customers on the web. Since this is the case you can easily encounter people who are so-called internet trolls, or simply rude for no good reason.
They can approach you and can initiate a conversation in either a hostile, insulting or simply funny way. Regardless of the situation, your ability to give the situation a funny twist can help you go viral in a good way. Here are some examples on how companies used humor through their Twitter accounts:
@bbcthree Or you can stare at the blank screen that is BBC3 😘😉
— E4 (@E4Tweets) March 27, 2016
E4, a popular twitter handle for movie/sitcom lovers, found it ironic for a News channels such as BBC Three to be insulting a TV sitcom, when news channels are known to be boring universally.
@Sunillin try Tinder.
— Old Spice (@OldSpice) October 31, 2013
Old Spice, the world’s most recognizable men’s deodorant brand, sarcastically suggested one of their customers to try their luck with a dating app.
— Official smart USA (@smartcarusa) June 19, 2012
Smart USA, a mini electric car manufacturer, used sarcasm to reply to a tweet from a customer. It is one of their most popuplar tweets to this very day.
At the right time and situation, customer service humor can be a key tactic to ease the anxiety of customers. You can “break the ice” with a customer who seems hesitant in their chat responses by making them chuckle. This causes them to open up more and simplifies your customer service process.
However, only use humor to an extent and if the situation allows it. Refrain from it if the product/service involves medical attention of the patient such as injuries or mental illnesses. Remember, do not force humor, it should come out naturally in order for it to work effectively. In conclusion, use customer service humor only if it can bring a positive outcome and if there is no risk of damaging your reputation.