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Lessons in customer service can sometimes come from the most unexpected places. So we’re going look under the sea and at the Disney Pixar movie, Finding Nemo and uncover a few hidden gems about life, business and customer service from these ocean-dwelling characters.

1. Customers are not meant to be in a box

Nemo asks Gill, the veteran tank fish, how many times he tried to escape. Gill responds, “Fish weren’t meant to be in a box.” Likewise, customers just want to be heard and get their problem resolved. If you ignore them and gloss over their requests, they’ll “escape” and go to a competitor who won’t keep them “in a box.” In fact, 92% of customers in the US said they stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer service experience. Of these, 55% said a company’s failure to resolve their problems in a timely manner drove them away. If you want to keep customers for the long haul, take the time to address unhappy customers and do everything you can to remedy the situation. It’s not only worth keeping their business, but also avoids news of bad customer service from spreading.

2. Customers are friends, not food

Bruce and his shark friends have not eaten fish for three weeks because, according to their fish-friendly shark pledge, “fish are friends, not food.” Bruce adds, “I am a nice shark. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself.” The same goes for businesses looking at customer service as a cost center, not an opportunity center. Handling customer cases should not be measured in speed but by quality of the relationship with your customer. Customers aren’t food, they’re real people. They have names and needs and want to feel like they matter to your company. In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. If you don’t recognize the value of your customers, they leave. If you treat them like friends with respect, you can inspire their loyalty.

3. News of bad service travels swiftly, my man

Nemo’s Dad, Marlin, tells the sea turtles about his quest to find Nemo. Eventually the turtles tell the story to the school of fish, who then tell the lobsters, and so on and so on, until the entire sea knows about it. Marlin is shocked by the speed of word-of-mouth. In response, Crush, the hippie sea turtle says, “News travels swiftly, my man.” This couldn’t be more truer than today. In today’s world of social media, good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. An unhappy customer can share their experience on Facebook and Twitter and news will spread like wildfire reaching more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. But more importantly, a bad customer service can damage the reputation of your brand and turn into lost customers. But you can use this to your advantage. Customer feedback is priceless insight into how to improve the quality of your service. Use this information to correct the issue and respond to customers in a proactive way. So you can make sure that news of good service travels fast, and news of bad service stops immediately.

4. Sometimes agents have to step outside of their comfort zone

During his epic journey to find Nemo, Marlin encounters many situations that scares him: riding the current, fleeing from fish-hungry sharks, and getting stuck inside of a whale. His trusty companion, Dory responds, “Sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone.” Like Marlin, agents have to go beyond their comfort zone to support the customer. Providing customer service through social media can feel like wading in new, unfamiliar waters, but today, 46% of customers want to engage with brands via Facebook to solve problems and 81% of Twitter users expect same-day customer service responses. Agents who stay in their “anemone” where it’s safe will only get left behind. Stop hiding, get out there and engage with your customers. Find ways to use social media channels to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

5. Customer service issue? Swim through it, not over it

As Dory and Marlin ride the waters with a school of fish, they get directions and a warning: when you come to this trench, swim through it, not over it. Likewise in customer support, sometimes problems with your product or service result in unhappy customers. If you find yourself caught in a support crisis, don’t panic or dwell on the issue. Take a step back and give yourself a moment to get some perspective. Great customer service agents work through a customer service issue. Listen to the customer, follow up with them and let them know when it’s resolved. Like Dory says when you hit a rough patch, “Keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” Even in the murkiest water, when you maintain an open dialogue with your customers and keep them informed at all times, you’ll earn your customer’s trust and commitment to your company.

Following these lessons should help you with your customer support engagement and will be more memorable than any Finding Nemo clip.

What lessons have you learned as a customer support agent? What helps you keep swimming?


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