What The Exorcist Can Teach Us About Great Customer Service
First, let me write outloud what we all silently know inside our skulls as an inarguable fact: The Exorcist is the greatest customer service movie of all time.
Second, there may be as many as 666 people worldwide who dispute this.
Third, here are the reasons why I'm right and they're full of pea soup.
A. All retail is about problem-solving.
B. Someone possessed by the devil has a problem.
C. Exorcists solve the problem.
D. The Exorcist is a documentary about B and C.
"D" is especially important, since most exorcism stores (usually owned by Catholic churches) have gone out of business (blame it on a sluggish economy) and so all we have left is this one film, which tells a simple retail story about...
A Customer (Regan)
An Employee (Father Karras)
And a Problem (Pure Evil)
Let me demonstrate why the retail interaction between Father Karras and Regan should be required viewing in Business 101, using The Six Pillars of Great Customer Service:
1. Does Father Karras smile at Regan?
Answer: YES! TWICE!
And what happens when an employee smiles at a customer...?
2. Does Father Karras greet Regan?
Father Karras: "Hello, Regan. I'm a friend of your mother's, I'd like to help you."
Regan: "Then loosen these straps."
Awesome job, FK! He uses part 1 of the greeting (salutation) and takes part 2 (the open-ended question) and turns it into a thoughtful statement that demonstrates how much he wants to help her.
He also skillfully avoids asking the clunky closed-ended,"Can I help you?"
But Father Karras doesn't stop there! He also tosses in an introduction.
"Let's introduce ourselves...I'm Damien Karras."
"And I'm the Devil! Now kindly undo these straps!"
Now everybody's on a first name basis - they're already friends! Fansatanastic!
3. Does Father Karras engage Regan?
In fact, he deftly uses the kind of friendly, light-hearted banter that knocks down walls between two people who have never met:
Regan: "What an excellent day for an exorcism."
Father Karras: "You'd like that?"
Father Karras: "But wouldn't that drive you out of Regan?"
Regan: "It would bring us together."
Father Karras: "You and Regan?"
Regan: "You and us."
You can really feel those two warming up to each other!
But Father Karras doesn't stop there.
He also utilizes something I preach about in training: touch. Touch releases endorphins. Touch makes us feel connected to the person we're touching. Touch makes even Satan all gooey.
I usually recommend a hand shake, but FK takes it to another level.
Awwwww! They're bonding!
4. Does Father Karras thank Regan?
Although FK is running late for his next exorcism...
...he does express a quick "thank you" before he skidaddles.
5. Does Father Karras follow up with Regan?
He's sort of indisposed at the end of The Exorcist...
...but someone does follow up with Regan in The Exorcist II.
"Are you happy with your exorcism? If you were shopping for another exorcism, would you come back? Is there anything we can do to make your next exorcism most pleasant?"
6. Does Father Karras give chocolate to Regan?
Absolutely. Look how bad she's broken out!
There you have it - the Six Pillars of Great Customer Service, in one great customer service movie.
Yet the most important thing to take away from The Exorcist is that employees give a tremendous amount of their time, attention and effort to help solve the problems of shoppers...
...who occasionally act like little devils.
Employees don't do it for money (although that's part of it) or recognition (which they usually only get when they screw up); they do it because it's the right thing to do.
They are the unsung everyday working class heroes among us.
So honor them today...
...with your smile, and your thanks.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Click to email Jonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)