3 Simple Rules to Customer Service Monty Python has Taught Us!

2 Jul 2014

Customer service can be tricky business in the vast a wonderful world of CRM. As you may know, the supergroup of comedians which go by the name of Monty Python have just started a new reunion tour Monty Python Live (almost). Selling out in impeccable time, it is clear that these comedy heroes are still as popular as ever and that their comedic efforts have well and truly survived the test of time. In respect to these brilliant men, I’d like to base today’s blog post around one of their very much loved sketch Dead Parrot as I think there is a lot that can be learnt from these comedy geniuses.

1. The customer is always right!

‘Mr. Praline (Cleese): Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now. Owner (Palin): No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, isn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!’

In customer service, we are always told to assume that the customer is right and to work from there in any confrontational situation. This theory works well as it avoids the kind of silly back and forth conversational pattern like above and generally helps to start conversations off on a pleasant and peaceful tone.

2. Even if you think the customer is wrong, offer to help in a productive and positive way.

‘Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh, we’re right out of parrots.’

In this sketch it takes the owner a cringe-worthy amount of time to admit that the parrot is in fact dead. Only after much argument does he let give a bit, and offers a replacement. The more efficient you are in a situation like this, the less likely the tone of the conversation is to get heated.

3. Be honest!

‘Owner: Look, if you go to my brother’s pet shop in Bolton, he’ll replace the parrot for you’…

…’ Mr. Praline: This is Bolton, is it?

Owner: (with a fake mustache) No, it’s Ipswich.’ …

… ‘Mr. Praline: Well, I wish to complain. I got on the Bolton train and found myself deposited here in Ipswich.

Attendant (Jones): No, this is Bolton.

Mr. Praline: (to the camera) The pet shop man’s brother was lying!!’

Towards the end of the sketch, everything gets ‘a bit silly’ and surreal. The viewer is at this point, becoming just as confused by the conflicting information being thrown around. This one is the most simple rule in customer service, where possible, be honest. The problem with lying to customers is that they often will find you out in the end. It is a lot easier to just own up, deal with any collateral damage and move on forwards to a solution.

I think there is a lot to be said for a sense of humour when it comes to business. Dead Parrot is a great parody of the way some business situations, can end up. So when you have a breakdown in communication, avoid the wall of confusion and frustration and look to the Dead Parrot for guidance for what not to do!