5 Things Star Wars Teaches Us About Customer Service

I have to admit that I am a bonified Star Wars geek.

From Tatooine to Coruscant and everything in between, I am die hard Star Wars fan – and this weekend I had the pleasure of attending the premier of the latest installment: THE FORCE AWAKENS.  Regardless of how this stacks up against the originals, it is a reminder of what I love most about this franchise.  A New Hope was the first movie I ever saw in a movie theatre, and it is likely the reason I love the franchise so much even today.

I think the stories resonate with us because they are stories of heroism.  It is a story of those fighting for something greater than themselves.  It is a story of folks becoming the best versions of themselves in service to a common goal.

And at the center of those stories stand The Jedi.  The guardians of The Republic and the champions of justice.  While as flawed as the next heroes, they do possess many characteristics that distinguish them as able leaders and servants.  Even though they are fictional characters that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them.

I think looking at things from a different and fun point of view can help us impact our teams and inspire an “of service” attitude.

With all that out of the way, here are 5 things that Jedi can teach us about Customer service:

DO OR DO NOT, THERE IS NO TRY
Yoda taught us that decades ago, and it rings true today.  There is no half way when it comes to Customer service.  Often it is easy to do “just enough” for our Guests and to tell them that “we’ll try,” but true service comes from giving it our all and not looking back.  Just enough is the battle cry of those who can’t be bothered to care, and we must strive to be better than that.  This is something we have to inspire in our teams and push for personally if we are to win.  Think about the upside to our Customers when they get the very best of our efforts and we push hard to meet and exceed their expectations.  Who do you think they’ll pick next time they need something important – that’s right. . .you.  And let’s face it, none of us want to see that disappointed look Luke got from Yoda when he couldn’t move the X-Wing.

COMPASSION MATTERS MOST:
One of the keys to being a Jedi is to treat others with care and unwavering compassion.  To provide the most amazing Customer service we have to be ready to empathize with our Guests and help make their lives easier and better.  When we start with the Guest in mind and determine our actions from there, we are setting everyone up to win.  This idea of selflessness can come through when we look at things from the Guest point of view.  Empathize with them on a personal level and that will help with determining their unmet or unvoiced needs.  Often anticipating what a Customer wants and helping them get there easily can drive fantastic loyalty.

“Many of the Truth’s we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.”
-Obi-Wan Kenobi

KNOWLEDGE OVER IGNORANCE:
Training is at the heart of being a Jedi – and it takes a lifetime for them to find their potential.  The corollary here is clear – not only must we onboard and train our teams well to win from the very beginning, but it must be ongoing.  In fact, we have to adopt that same mindset as Leaders if we are to win.  Learning and development is a lifetime activity that must be nurtured in us all.  When we begin to believe that we know it all, that is a path to ignorance.  As fast as technology and popular culture move these days, it is a full time job to keep up.  Understanding today’s work force, predicting Customer needs, and staying ahead of industry trends are all a part of this equation.  We have a multitude of ways to learn and grow each day – the way to set ourselves apart is to take advantage of them.  One less hour of television or an audio book during drive time can be the start of additional learning that can help us grow.  Along with that, inspiring our teams to keep learning and setting them up with opportunities to do so is also a recipe for excellence.

DON’T LET YOUR PASSIONS GOVERN YOU:
We all watched the dark side destroy Darth Vader – and to that end, our tempers can make us all vulnerable to failure.  We work hard in the service industry, and in certain disciplines the hours are long and the pressure relentless.  This is a formula that can let our emotions get the better of us.  We have all said things we wish we could take back and that is a terrible feeling.  One of the best ways to keep our tempers in check is stop ignoring them or pretending we don’t have them.  Customers can be irritating at times and if we let our mouths run away with us, we are not doing anyone any good.  Best to find relaxation techniques or a confidant to vent to rather than pretend to the world that you “have it under control.”  It has been my experience that those who pretend they have their emotions under control are the first to lose hold of them.  When you feel that sense of anxiety or anger or impatience, you have to take action.  You must have a plan to deal with them in the moment (even if that means finding a way out of the situation for a moment) so that you can reign yourself in a bit.  That will lead to better service and not saying something you might regret.

BEWARE THE DARK SIDE:
Of course this is a bit of hyperbole here.  But the key note is that honesty matters.  We have to always keep what is right in mind when dealing with our Guests and those with whom we work.  We don’t have to go back too far in history to find corporations or individuals who misbehaved and were caught in a very public way. Whether they were financial or personal offenses, these left folks with a lack of trust in certain companies and organizations.  That said, most often we only have our reputations to sell.  Sure we sell widgets and do-dads, but mostly folks come to businesses for the people who work there.  When we lose the trust of our Guests, it is very hard to get it back.  Think about the restaurant that had a food borne illness or the car company with safety issues – they don’t smack of particularly trustworthy and folks will walk past those businesses for a time as they work to rebuild their lost reputations.

Luke

The Jedi certainly weren’t depicted as perfect – but they did have traits from which we can all learn.  I think they provide some relevant examples that can help us all walk a better service path.  While this is all from the realm of fiction, often these kinds of corollaries can help us train our teams and fuel excellent pre-shift huddle materials.  Everyone can relate to the pop culture phenomenon that is Star Wars.

So until next time, may the force be with you and treat every Guest like a cherished friend.

Tony

Tony Johnson
Customer Service Expert | Author | Trainer | Speaker

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*All images used with thanks to LucasFilm for their amazing storytelling

About The Author

Tony Johnson

I’m a 22 year veteran of delivering terrific Guest experiences. I believe in putting the Customer at the center of what we do everyday. . .Let’s face it, if we take great care of our Guests, the rest just falls into place.