Customer Service Better than Sex?

Customer Service Better than Sex?

Over the years many it’s been suggested many things are “better than sex”. I recall (fondly) a certain dessert called “better than sex cake” I was introduced to almost 20 years ago. And I’ve heard sky diving, mountain climbing and other extreme sports are often subjects of this comparison.

But I’ve never heard anyone suggest that offering good customer service is better than sex.

Yet there are studies that suggest the good feeling we get from helping others is not too different from what we feel when we do highly pleasurable things.  At least, that’s how our brains feel about it.

This article (from MSN) relates several examples of research where people who helped others experienced a specific neuro-chemical reaction associated with pleasure. For example, Carolyn Schwartz, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found people who volunteered to help MS patients “experienced dramatic improvements in their quality of life—several times more so than those they were helping”.

The article also cites a study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Science:

“…participants’ brains were monitored by MRI scans while they made decisions about donating part of their research payment to charitable organizations. When participants chose to donate money, the brain’s mesolimbic system was activated, the same part of the brain that’s activated in response to monetary rewards, sex, and other positive stimuli.”

(Emphasis added by me.)

Recently I mentioned this to a friend who is a doctor. He agreed and said there is a physiological basis for this. (Then he said several big words that were well beyond my vocabulary.)

I doubt any of us would be surprised about this. Most of us know from experience helping others feels good. And it makes sense. We humans are equipped with relatively few physical tools to survive. We are heavily dependent on each other in all aspects of our lives. We are designed as social creatures. So, helping others is what enables our species to survive and thrive.

Since customer service is all about helping people, this is important.

In our quest to provide better customer service, we often focus on how to motivate employees.  We look for ways to get employees to deliver better service consistently. Teach them better skills. Monitor their phone calls. Observe them with secret shoppers. Reward them for providing good service. Punish them when they don’t.

Yet the challenge continues. Customer service in many companies is still well below where customers want it to be.

Maybe the answer lies in brain science. Perhaps we need to tap into people’s natural desire to help others. Here are three suggestions:

1. Create a culture of service.

Do this by making service a priority starting at the top. Management at all levels needs to affirm that service is a key value in the organization. This needs to be done in words and in actions.

2. Make it personal.

Do this by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Try to understand their perspective. If you were them, how would you want to be treated? If all else fails, pretend the customer is someone you care deeply about like a parent, spouse or child.

3. Connect with your customers.

Engage in direct and ongoing conversations with your customers. Discover what they want from you. Ask them how you’re doing. Employees should have the time and tools to establish and maintain strong relationships with customers. Create a persistent and transparent flow of information between employees, management and customers.

Okay, so maybe giving great customer service isn’t better than sex.

But it can be fun, it can feel good and it can lead your company to more revenue and profits, no matter what the economy is like.

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The article was written by Kevin Stirtz