First, let me define “Banter” in a customer context. Think of it as conversation about a topic that most likely has little to do with the customer’s need, issue, or question. You’re initiating a discussion about nothing pertinent to the conversation (e.g., Where are you calling from? Where did you get that beautiful bracelet? The weather has been crazy this year here, hasn’t it?).
So why would you ever have some light-hearted banter with the customer? There are many times:
- When there’s downtime during the call – You want to keep the conversation going.
- When the customer is NOT irate or angry – It’s too risky when they have that negative emotion to go off-topic – that may upset them unless you’re REALLY talented at defusing those emotions.
- When you’re trying to learn more about them – You’re trying to show interest in them as an individual customer.
- When it’s the beginning of the relationship – You want to know them better to serve them better.
- When they clearly have time – Banter is more readily accepted by those more likely to be patient (not in a rush).
- When they have NOT been waiting long – It takes time to banter – see their situation before bringing up other topics.
- When you’re doing a task (on the computer, etc.) where they are waiting for your process to end – They won’t feel it’s a waste of time if they can tell that you’re still being productive.
- When you’re trying to reduce the perception of wait time (such as a long stay in a waiting room) – It shows that you noticed them and are aware of them despite the fact that no service is being performed at that moment.
Banter? Chit-chat? Sure. Just be smart about when you do it.