What we can learn about Customer Service from the Harlem Shake Phenomenon!

What can we learn from 32 seconds of a viral video about excellence in customer service delivery.


Original Harlem Shake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=384IUU43bfQ

In two weeks, an obscure group of teenagers and a song released last year went from 0 – 175 Million views on Youtube. The video was released on February 2nd by five teenagers from Queensland, Australia. The teenagers danced to “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer which has since  inspired tens of thousands of copy cat videos, over 40,000 in the first 2 weeks. Baauer’s single reached #1 on the iTunes America chart and #2 on iTunes in the UK and Australia by February 15, 2013.

Three distinct aspects

  • Part 1 - Usually, a “Harlem Shake” video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the person dancing.
  • Part 2 - The bass drops and the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds, there’s a slow down, but then everyone continues.
  • Part 3 - As the video progresses everyone is wildly and passionately doing their own dance but all with the music, creating a single scene. Typically people wield strange props while doing the dance.


What does this have to do with Excellent Customer Service and how are the two similar?

Customer Service Definition:  Customer service is the provision of service to customers (internal and external) before, during and after a purchase. It’s how you treat people; everyone you meet is a potential customer.

Harlem Shake – starts with one nameless faceless person, just doing their thing having a good time and … no one notices. Excellent Customer Service starts the same way, normally it’s just one nameless faceless person that starts the revolution and yes typically everyone else is oblivious. Even if no one notices, commit to delivering the best customer service experience anyway. Deliver out of passion. A passion for customers and a passion for what you do.

Lesson One: Deliver your customer service passionately as though no one is watching.

Then the beat drops and… other people finally see what’s happening catch the groove and start to participate. If you’re the innovator and you deliver excellent service, eventually everyone else will catch on.  Even if the momentum slows, worry not, things will pick up, just keep doing your best.  If you’re not the innovator, but you see the momentum around you, join in.

Lesson Two: Participate in what’s taking place in your organization, allow yourself to get caught up in the transformation that’s taking place.

Finally a truly uninhibited group of individuals dances wildly usually with odd props, but creating one cohesive scene. Once everyone is involved and uninhibited everyone has to be empowered to deliver their own brand of customer service under an overarching guideline which is the organization’s customer service policy.

Lesson Three:  Feel empowered to deliver your brand of customer service, depending on your role. Take your customer service viral.

And the props you’ll need….

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  1. A Ring (engagement ring) to remember to engage your customers, really understand what they want, be the conversation starter.
  2. Eye glasses to make sure to maintain eye contact, they’ll know that you’re sincere.
  3. Headphones to plug into them and actively listen to their wants, needs and objectives.
  4. Deodorant so that you can be up close and personal, be personable and sincere so that they want to do business with you.
  5. A tooth brush to remind you to always smile.
  6. Keys as in keys to something you own, take ownership of your customer relationship, take ownership of anything that is handed to you to execute on.
  7. A ball to remind you to not drop the ball, when something is given to you, don’t drop it and if you’re giving something to someone else to do, make sure to confirm that they’ve got it before you let it go.
  8. A copy of the book Great Expectations to remind you to set a great expectation then exceed it.
  9. Proactiv Acne Cream to remind you to be proactive, learn your customers patterns so that you can anticipate their needs.
  10. A hammer that reminds you that when there’s an issue, just fix it, don’t run, don’t hide, just fix it.
  11. A mirror to remind you to treat customers the way you’d like to be treated, if you act as though you’re always serving the ultimate customer, you, your delivery will be impeccable.
  12. A watch to remind you to set the time expectation, if you’re committing to an activity set a deadline and stick to it. If you can’t stick to the deadline, then follow up before the deadline. Follow up with them before they have to check back with you, they’ll know you haven’t forgotten.
  13. A Bible to remind you to be trustworthy and honest.  Every interaction with your customer should be as though you’re under oath.
  14. A Spoon & Bowl to remind you to prepare as you would prepare food, put all the ingredients together and don’t be afraid to mix things up. For every customer interaction prepare, look at the industry, do your research, so that you’re in the best position to deliver.


Why? – Because your life and livelihood depends on it.  With the economy the way that it is, excellence in customer service has to be one of many defining characteristics of your business.  The companies that survived the great depression were the ones that out innovated, out planned and out served their competition.  Deliver like your company, your family, your life depends on it, because in these trying times, they do.

My personal favorite Harlem Shake version so far http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Creyd_QN8WM enjoy!

5 Must have sales tools critical to successful selling


You wouldn’t go into battle unarmed and you never see a doctor without a stethoscope?  So then why would you send sales people into customers without the tools and materials that they need to be successful?  Far too many organizations focus on hiring the right sales team, which is really important but what is equally important is that they have the tools necessary to sell and close efficiently making the best use of their time.  Taking for granted that they have the basics which I consider to be business cards, a smartphone, a computer and the company website. There’s simply no excuse for not having a website.   These three can make or break your sales targets:

  1. Commission Plan & Target – Steven Covey was right in the 7 steps, put first things first. If your sales team doesn’t have an incentive plan they don’t really know what you consider is important.  Targets are hard wired into sales people’s DNA. You get the kind of performance that you create an incentive around, which doesn’t mean that you have to create an incentive for everything, but you do need an incentive plan to provide some direction.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – This to me is the single most important sales tool.  Keep track of all of your contacts and the contact you’ve had with them, measure your deals, and measure performance against target.  Keep track of all correspondence in one place. CRM is the gauge of your performance. 
  3. Company Brochure – Certainly your sales team can articulate the basics of what you have to offer, however, a brochure, collateral material or leave behind is critical to your sales team’s success.  Most buyers forget most of what you say by the time you leave.  A brochure serves as a colourful and pesky reminder of your offering and early conversation. The trick is to create a brochure that speaks to your value proposition the way that your best sales people would.  It can serve as a training aid for new team members as well.
  4. Proposal Template – Once you finally get a client really and truly interested in a solution, you’ve assessed their needs, you’ve qualified the opportunity and determined why they simply cannot survive without your product or service you have to put it all in writing.  The problem is, this can be quite a time-consuming event, robbing sale people of much needed client facing time.  Worse if your team aren’t natural writers it makes executing a proposal document even more difficult.  The truth of the matter is, outside of the positioning to that specific client, your proposals should be pretty standard.  Proposals should include the same information about the product or service and why they should choose you.  The information that differs is the positioning, configuration and price.  Create a template for those things that are repeatable so that minimal time is used re-writing what has already been created. It also provides the opportunity to put your best foot forward.
  5. Linkedin Page – Admittedly I was one of the last people to see the merits of LinkedIn.  I think it’s just not intuitive to me, so I didn’t take to it.  Moreover I don’t like how most people use it as yet another opportunity to spam others.  However, LinkedIn is invaluable to understand who your “six degrees of separation” are.  If you’re in the Caribbean it’s less than two.  If you’re polite and have a well-developed page, you can have your LinkedIn connections introduce you to potential customers. See where they’ve worked and what they consider their value proposition.  When selling to a customer, a scan of their LinkedIn can tell you what their personal wins are.  How quickly they’ve escalated through the organization and what their career aspirations might be.  Be the person that helps them to get there with your solution.


If you have all of the above then I’ll say you’re golden, on to the next sale for you. If not, contact us, let’s see if we can help.