Teaching Employees To Execute Customer Service Magic
By Kostya Kimlat
A sale, like a great magic trick, occurs inside the customer’s mind. And it is there where it is replayed, remembered, and redefined continually after. The mind is the final battleground. Because magicians are masters of perception, they understand how to get into the heads of their prospects better than anyone else. That’s why the principles of magic can be so helpful in a business environment.
The following four tools
and techniques are used in magic to create the perception of magical
experiences. These four words begin with the letter A, so we’ll call each of
them the proverbial “Ace Up The Sleeve”. They’re not just a part of a
winning hand. When executed together, they are a part of a winning strategy of
Here are the four aces from a magician’s tool set of perception:
What assumptions are your customers making?
How are you acknowledging them?
How are you building anticipation to heighten emotions?
What are you doing to surprise, delight, and ultimately astonish your customers?
People are constantly
making assumptions. Magicians use the assumptions that the human brain
naturally makes “against” you. Assumptions are the reason it’s so fun for
magicians to fool other magicians. That’s because a prepared magician will know
what methods his magician friend knows and use those very assumptions to pull
off his trick in a way his friend won’t expect, leaving him dumbfounded.
Assumptions impact every
interpersonal interaction and can be helpful or hurtful. First, consider what
assumptions you are making about your customers. Are you assuming they like
you, your brand, or your product? Or are you assuming they’re skeptical of you?
Second, think about what
assumptions they are making of you. People perceive what they expect, so before
you can deliver on any customer service you need to get into the mind of your
customer, client, or patient and understand what they’re assuming is going to
happen when they interact with you.
Perception is a two-way street: People
see you and you see them. It is, therefore, imperative to first become aware of
the assumptions that you make about others. Then, it’s equally as important to
consider how others see you. This will help you have an influence over the
impact of perception on your relationships.
A human interaction can
only be successful if the customer’s assumptions are acknowledged. For example, the sophisticated magician who
encounters a spectator oozing with negative assumptions about magic must first
acknowledge those assumptions in order to move forward.
“You look skeptical,” the
magician might say. “How about I show you the fastest trick I do? If you enjoy
it, I can come back later and show you more.”
communicates authenticity. For businesses and brands, it can be the saving mea culpa that redeems a company from
a mistake. For individuals, it is a way of clearing the air before being able
to move forward in a relationship.
What are the
assumptions—true or false—your prospective customers most frequently make about
you or your business? What can you say or do to acknowledge each of those
assumptions in order to proceed with the relationship?
Once you’ve identified
your customer’s assumptions and acknowledged them, you’re ready to build
Studies have shown that
your mind is in a constant state of anticipation, making predictions about the
future and then rewarding or punishing you for being right or wrong. This is
what makes magic so much fun to watch; your brain is constantly making
predictions about how a trick might end. And when your brain guesses correctly,
it’s rewarded handsomely.
There are many ways a
magician might increase your anticipation levels. Sometimes he’ll tell you
exactly how the trick will end (“all of the cards will disappear in 3, 2, 1 …”).
Sometimes he might even create anticipation through tension, by feigning an
error (“I swear this worked earlier …”) before successfully completing an
effect to the delight of the audience.
Master magicians know how
to raise the level of anticipation—and ultimately the astonishment that is
about to come. Creating anticipation is an ultimate tool of perception, a
masterful tactic that can create intrigue and heightened emotions, leading to a
better payoff in the end.
Like a magician, you can
raise anticipation levels in a sales interaction by painting a picture of how
the customer’s future might look. What can you say to get a customer excited
about a future payoff? What emails could you send to heighten this sense of
anticipation? Is there a way you can create anticipation through generating
Think about how you can
build, build, build anticipation, so that when a customer finally makes her
purchase she feels like it’s a cause for celebration.
Have you ever been amazed
by a magician? Have you seen or experienced something that made you take pause?
Your eyes widened, your pupils dilated, your mouth got dry. For a brief moment,
you couldn’t explain what just happened. This positive and pleasantly
surprising moment has an eerie way of zapping your brain like nothing else
does. Magicians refer to this as the moment of astonishment.
Excellent customer service
comes down to how well you’re able to astonish your customer. Sure, a customer
might have assumptions that you may have acknowledged, and you might even
deliver on what she anticipated would happen, but unless you go an extra step,
providing something she previously thought unlikely or impossible, she will not
walk away feeling astonished.
Astonishment taps into
your customer’s emotional brain, and it’s in the emotional brain that brand
loyalty becomes rooted and repeat business generated. Astonishment is what
leads to five-star Yelp reviews and unsolicited Facebook posts singing your
Just like an astonished
audience member might excitedly request that a magician “do that again,” or
demand a magician share a performance (“show that to my friend!”), your
customers will want to experience your business again and share it with friends
if you leave them truly astonished.
So, how can you add
moments of astonishment to your interactions? What surprises can you plan? How
can you take things a step beyond meeting their anticipated expectations and
deliver something they wouldn’t have imagined possible?
Stack The Deck
A competent magician will
understand the assumptions his audience is making about him. A good magician
will acknowledge them. A great magician will build so much anticipation that
the audience creates an expectation for the successful conclusion of a trick, but
an excellent magician will not
just bring a trick to its successful conclusion, he will go an extra step—not
only delivering on the promise but exceeding it and surprising the audience.
Excellent magicians have all four “aces” up their sleeves. You don’t have to be a magician to use these tools, you just have to Think Like A Magician™. Teach these tactics to your employees and they’ll be masters at delivering magical customer service.
Kostya Kimlat is a keynote speaker and corporate magician who fooled Penn & Teller on their hit TV show, “Fool Us”. Kostya speaks to businesses about how to Think Like A Magician™ to improve sales and customer service. For more information about Kostya Kimlat, visit www.TheBusinessMagician.com.