Humor in Customer Service?

Posted by Molly Hetrick at 07/25/2023

What can we talk about for Customer Service in the middle of the summer, when everyone is struggling with burnout? I decided to take a lighter tone... Let’s talk about Humor!

Does humor have a place in customer service?

It can be a tricky topic - to discuss, to experiment with, and to get it right. But I'd like to ask you to spend a few minutes with me considering some ideas, and perhaps some of them might work for you and your team.

So let’s start with the basic idea that humor can lighten a situation and equalize people, remind us we're human, and give us a moment of connection to step back from what might be a tense situation.

Spouses use it to avoid an argument with the other spouse, kids use it to make their parent laugh even when they've just gotten into mischief. But for recreation - can we make a summer camp parent laugh right before they lose their cool at camp registration?

Humor must be done lightly, carefully, and based on the personality of the person doing it. Perhaps you have a special red clown nose that you pull out and put on to make a child laugh before inspecting the forms that the parents are complaining about turning in. (Making a child laugh often makes their parent laugh too. Or at least smile? If not, take off the nose quick!)

Perhaps there is a purple cape that hangs near the swimming pool service counter and when starting into a difficult situation, the staff person whips on the cape with a flourish and says "I'm sure I can fix it now!" (This also alerts the other staff that the person is navigating a tricky situation.)

The most fun I have seen is on signs in recreation areas and I've gathered a collection of them for you below.

What if the sign at the pavilion listed the rules, and then included "This means you. Yes, you. We're not kidding, you too."

Some people will laugh, some will not laugh, but is it worth a try? If nothing else, it might actually get people to read the sign!

Think how many rules, policies, and procedures there are, how many signs are posted and details emailed. It’s a lot for us, it’s a lot for customers. What if they were written in humorous or fun language, while still maintaining the actual point?

An oldie but a goodie: "Unattended children will be given sugar and a kitten." Does it work? That one may not anymore, it’s been used so often, but you get the idea. Something different gets attention and that’s a start!

Very creative, and includes the main reason at the very bottom.

The hardest part is you do not want to appear to be making light of a situation, or that you’re not taking it seriously. If a child breaks their arm, it’s not time for the purple cape. Your goal is to be human and natural, not disrespectful. Which is why humor must be based on that particular person's personality, when possible.

We've all seen the really fun and creative signs about picking up after a dog... what other options are there?

Here I have collected some random samples that will hopefully make you laugh and maybe give you an idea for your own signs and policies. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

This one is fun but does not actually tell us the main point. I suggest that the bottom half of the sign actually include the "notice" or information. The last line may take it a little too far.

This is a really fun way to say "No flying of kites in the park". You might argue that it's a lot of signs and printing costs and it's also possible someone would read only the top sign. But, it did make me laugh!

This will get people's attention and hopefully cause a laugh while reminding of the rules.

This one is way too edgy and bordering on rude. I have seen it used in many different parks, but I suggest that this is taking humor too far and not likely to get the reaction you want from customers.

Humor! Did this make you laugh?

This sign is great, with one correction - IF the tiny bottom line is true and the bridge is out, then as a safety issue, that part needs to be much bigger. Don't let humor overtake the important safety message. This type of sign could be used for a less important message. "Bridge is Out" is too urgent for humor.