Crossing That Line Between Friendly Engaging Banter And Playful Allure. Here's a question for you. If you are a customer, and the customer service agent chats happily with you, showing a genuine interest in your day, your purchase, and any small talk you might offer up, would you be inclined to think, "Wow, what great customer service"? Of course you would.
So, let's spin that question on its head and throw in this one game-changer: Does the gender of the customer service team member change whether the service was friendly or flirtatious? Let's say, for example, you're a man and the service team member is a woman. Is her chatty, cheeky, genuinely happy conversation crossing the line? What if she is simply great at her role, which requires her to be very confident and able to make every customer feel that he or she is singly the most important customer in that moment? At what point does the pleasantry become a play? Does it? Or is it that people are now too over-sexed in their every thought to accept that one person can engage with another at a very comfortable and happy level when they are of the opposite gender? Do people presume that because a female service person chats engagingly and happily with a female customer that the conversation is not flirtatious? Does that not lead to an assumption that neither of the participants in the conversation is gay? This should lead you to ask yourself if you are making assumptions and jumping to very misguided conclusions. Perhaps you may even be bordering on being judgemental when you perceive that a team member of one gender is flirtatious because he or she is capable of making a customer of the opposite gender feel important in the customer service interaction. There is nothing wrong with a bit of fun, cheekiness, and playful conversation - call it flirting if you will. It is an expression of chemistry that naturally occurs between two people no matter their gender or sexual orientation, and when managed appropriately can lead to a positive and vital customer service relationship. However, culturally, making accusations or passing judgement over the perceived flirtation suggests that men and women should not be allowed to engage in professionally friendly, fun, and happy conversation. This suggestion could, in the long run, cost you in lost business.
Bear in mind, you need to be asking yourself what you consider to be professional Vs playful interaction, and furthermore, if you have issues that lead you to make such assumptions. Customer service is about serving others, and servicing the needs of people willing to part with their money for goods or services offered through business. At what point do you, the business owner, determine that "making it fun" and "making their day" crosses that fine line from frivolity to flirtation? Should you educate your teams about professional courtesies, and about how not to immediately accuse fellow colleagues of flirting with customers? Indeed. Firstly, make it clear to your team members that their perceptions and opinions are not welcomed if they are simply making claims that cannot be substantiated. Next, observe those allegedly flirtatious employees and determine how satisfied their customers are, compared to those who keep banter to a bare minimum. Who delivers the level of service that your customers are happiest with? Ask! Create a survey that provides a rating scale for your customers, asking which of your team members provided the best service. Have them describe the level of satisfaction delivered. There is nothing wrong with a little flirting, if that is how it must be defined. But beware the accusations, because even implying that one of your team members flirts with every customer of the opposite gender is crossing a line that you must be very sure you can substantiate. Besides, better a satisfied customer who might feel he or she was flattered by a seemingly flirtatious customer service team member, than a indifferent customer who simply parted with the money and left without a lasting impression of having ever done business with you. What do you think?.