I LOVED Mister Rogers Neighborhood as a child. I remember being mezmorized as he talked me through some relatively complex ideas, fed his fish, talked with his mailman. I felt like I was there in his house, a welcome visitor…never talked down to but shown respect that as an obnoxious kid I probably didn’t deserve.
My 19 month old daughter doesn’t watch much television at all…her mother and I made the choice to limit TV significantly until she is older. We do, however, make exceptions for the Wiggles and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. For anyone who is not a parent or hasn’t seen the show, as the spiritual successor to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood the show helps children through some of the struggles of growing up and taking on new responsibilities in the world around them in a soft-spoken, loving, often musical way.
During a recent car trip from Tennessee to Florida (and back), we let my daughter watch more Daniel Tiger than usual. While driving and listening to the episode play from the back seat, I realized that the life lessons the show teaches contain great reminders for adults, too…especially when it comes to dealing with and teaching other people.
In the second episode, Daniel is worried about going to a new school. He’s nervous about what will happen there and what kind of things he might encounter. In the second part, he faces the same apprehension about going to the doctor’s office. His teacher and mother both offer a really great way to deal with this unfamiliar territory with a little jingle that goes like this.
I realized then that so often we have users who come to us for support of a product with the same kind of apprehension Daniel had on his first day of school, or going to the doctors. What will happen? How does this work? Will this be painful to use?
Our users come to us for answers, but if we want to really set the bar higher, we need to give them an experience. Understanding that “stupid questions” aren’t something to scoff at but rather an opportunity to blow our users minds with our willingness to serve is a defining characteristic if a great support agent. Walking the user through the experience of using the product instead of just “Click on the button and you’re done” can build a sense of trust and loyalty between you, your brand, and your users.
“I am not stupid, I am just ignorant”
The above was a statement made by one of our users on our review page a few months ago. The phrase stuck with me and taught me an important lesson about viewing our users. Most times our users are not experts in the product (if they were, they wouldn’t need us!) yet far too many support agents treat their users as if they should be. In most call centers or support offices, the laughter and sighs can be heard as we mentally scold our users for being too stupid to understand how our product works, as if they are somehow “less than” for needing our assistance.
What if instead we treated our users like students…students so engaged and willing to learn that they seek out knowledge from the source. We should be honored to be trusted with their questions. We should thank our users for coming to us for help, and apologize for not making our product clear enough in the first place, or documentation not readily available or accessible enough to understand the issue on their own.
For our users, often times interacting with our products or services is a new experience, and just like Daniel Tiger, they need a guide. They need someone to tell them how things work and what to expect in an understanding, polite, even affectionate tone. When you ask your users to do something new, talk about it with them. Send them screenshots, videos, whatever it takes to make sure that they leave that interaction thinking “Wow, they really helped me understand how to use their tools better. I will definitely consult them again in the future.”
That’s how you win over your users. Treat them kindly, respectfully like Mister Rogers would.
More lessons from Daniel Tiger to come. 🙂