Santa sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake, but the average Christmas song neglects to highlight this jolly old man's keen business sense. Just take a moment to evaluate St. Nick's behavior in Miracle on 34th Street and you will discover that under his white beard lies the face of an experienced customer service professional.When Macy's hired Santa Claus, their main goal was to have someone push the goods that most kids didn't want. But, by hiring the Kris Kringle, the department store found a miracle they didn't bargain for. You see, Mr. Kringle refused to put profits before people. Though that young boy asked for an item the store did not sell, Mr. Kringle made the child's Christmas wish his main concern, thus directing the boy's mother to another store altogether. The woman, shocked by such an unorthodox strategy, expressed her newfound loyalty to Macy's and her delight over "putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial."
Though radical in theory, Mr. Kringle's approach struck a chord with Mr. Macy and department store competitors throughout the country. Mr. Macy saw the benefits of becoming "the helpful store, the friendly store--the store with a heart." Instead of seeing these shoppers as customers meant to rack up the dollar signs, he took Mr. Kringle's cue and treated them like people--yes, people!--not profits.
Often times, in today's constantly connected, multi-channel environment, companies get too caught up in strategy to focus on the customer. While these companies actively attempt to provide the best customer experience possible, they neglect the individual in pursuit of a favorable outcome. They claim their strategy will improve customer satisfaction or customer retention, but their fixation on data puts companies at a disadvantage. This information is of no use if they do not understand the people driving these results.
Miracle on 34th Street may be fictitious, but the lessons sewn throughout remain steadfast and true. There may be 65 years worth of technological advances separating us from this beloved classic, but we cannot ignore the beauty in the simplicity of their service initiative. They didn't need social media or mobile applications. They only needed one man to teach them how to treat customers like people, not pawns, in order to boost loyalty and advocacy. Perhaps, if we look to remove the complications brought on by technology, we will be able to breathe new life into the heart of every business: the customer.