Photo by Flickr user Daniel Ramirez

When’s the last time a customer said they wished they had more problems, just to get a chance to interact with you more? A story went viral last week about a customer service representative at Netflix who not only solved a customer’s routine issue, but actually made him glad he had it in the first place.

It all started with a simple chat: “I have a problem to report,” typed the Netflix user. What came next wasn’t a canned reply to say the least: “This is Capt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?” The customer, whose online streaming had been interrupted by a technical glitch, was delighted and introduced himself: “Greetings, Captain. Lt. Norm here.”

The conversation went on from there, with the rep cracking jokes and even adding positive comments about the show the customer had been watching (the absurdly funny Parks and Recreation). At the end of their chat, “Captain Mike” asked if there was anything else he could help with; the customer replied, “I almost wish there were.”

Wow. If only every contact we have with businesses could give us that feeling!

Of course, this humorous approach wouldn’t be appropriate in every situation. “Lieutenant Norm” was watching a comedy and obviously in the mood to relax and enjoy some entertainment. Ruby’s virtual receptionists, on the other hand, answer calls for many attorneys whose callers may be going through a tough time in their lives — not an ideal opportunity to make light of the situation.

However, our receptionists know that they can empathize, listen for cues to give them what they don’t even know they want, or simply offer a kind word. People are yearning for a more meaningful connection than a canned script will ever provide.

Learn to see interactions as opportunities to brighten your customers’ days — not just tasks to check off your list. After all, they are probably contacting you because they need help; why not show them you care at the same time?

Photo via Flickr user Daniel Ramirez