Customer service. You either love it or you hate it, but we all have to deal with it at some point. Whether it’s directly communicating with our clients, working with vendors, or chatting with a truck driver — we all encounter a need for customer service.

As some of you know, I have a background in theatre. I minored in Theatre Arts in college and worked for 2 years at a successful community theater in Duluth previous to working at Attract. And while I thought that my theatre background was going to be useless as an adult, it’s actually come in incredibly handy in the arena of customer service. Not to say that you have to be a good actor to succeed in this area, but it helps you understand the mentality of customer service faster and maybe just a little better.

Here are 5 tips from the mind of a semi-thespian that can help you get in the customer service mindset.

  1. The show must go on. Also an epic Queen song, this saying goes a looooooong way. No matter the setbacks, no matter the screw ups (on our part or theirs), the show must go on. You’re in front of a live audience, you can’t give up, even if you want to. Once in high school, I played Mama Bear in a comedy called The Trial of Goldilocks (NO, I will not bring in photos), and I knocked a ceramic coffee mug off a table with my butt during the middle of a production, shattering it into a million pieces. What did I do? I kept going. I didn’t give up or break character. You have to. Same with customer service — never break face.
  2. Learning how to say something even when you forget your lines. It’s called improv. I do it all the time. Being the person with the least amount of production experience on staff, I have definitely learned how to BS my way through a conversation a time or two. It’s that mentality of thinking on your feet that will improve your customer service skills. We always want to be putting our most professional foot forward, even if we are known for our fun and quirky company personality. 
  3. Knowing how to have a phony smile even when you’re hating the world. We all have those days where the last thing you want to do is be or sound pleasant. This is where the acting comes in handy. After spending copious amounts of time on the phone with patrons buying tickets — I have dealt with some of the most ignorant (or sometimes just straight up dumb) people. But instead of letting them hear the annoyance in my voice, I go in to “Actor Mode” and put a smile into my voice. How do you do that? Its easy — smile when you talk. You can literally hear a smile in your voice, I shit you not. It makes a world of difference.
  4. Knowing the applause is for everyone. While it might seem that they’re only cheering for the faces they see on stage, just remember that it takes dozens of people to produce a show — from the director to the spot light operator to the dude that glued feathers on the lead actress’ costume. No matter where you are at in this company, success is attributed to each and every one of us, not any one person.
  5. You’re providing an experience, just as much as you are providing a product or service. Working on the ticketing side at a theater really taught me that it’s about the entire experience, not just the final production or product. If you have a sucky experience with a loud audience member or a (pardon my language) bitchy ticket seller, it can crap on your whole night no matter how fantastic the show was. Keep that in mind with every person you encounter along the road of a project — even if you’re just the guy they walk past on the way to the bathroom when they’re visiting our facility — your contribution and attitude shape their entire experience. 

To be honest, the biggest thing having a theatre background has taught me is to be present and self aware. Be in the moment — really be there. Not just physically, but mentally too. And realize that you’re representing a larger whole, no matter what your role is. Customer service is the “stage” and the customers are our “audience.” Let’s give them a performance they won’t forget.