We Need More Customer Service Reps Like Capt. Mike Of The Good Ship Netflix

We’re always hearing complaints about robotic customer service reps who refuse to deviate from a script — this is especially true in chat support, where CSRs sometimes have an entire library of go-to cut-and-paste replies at the ready. So it’s refreshing when we come across a story about a CSR who is willing to shake things up by using a bit of humor while also doing his job.

Over on Reddit, someone has posted the transcript of a chat between a Netflix customer and a rep named Michael, or as he refers to himself “Captain Mike of the good ship Netflix.”

What makes the conversation even more refreshing is that the customer plays along, referring to himself as Lt. Norman. You can read the whole thing below, but here is one choice exchange from the conversation, which involved a Parks and Recreation episode that was getting stuck and repeating the same few seconds (video evidence from yet another Netflix customer):

Customer: at 5 minutes of operation… the visual creates a temporal loop, and nearly 3 seconds of footage repeats over and over again. Our ship seems to be immune to the effect, as our lives are not actually repeating over and over.

Cap’n Mike: Oh, no LT I told you no watching Netflix while we sail through the [Bermuda] Triangle.

Customer: Dammit, I’m an engineer, not a navigator

In the Reddit comments, a user claiming to be Lt. Norman says he truly enjoyed the chat and that “even more interaction would have been awesomer. I think he didn’t expect me to take him up on the ‘invitation’ to be silly.”

And that’s exactly what makes this case such a pleasant change of pace — the CSR kept things light from the very beginning, but didn’t do anything to push the customer away or get him offline as quickly as possible, even though there was not much Mike could have done beyond reporting it to the tech team to investigate.

Sadly, a number of people in the Reddit comments express the sentiment that most companies would fire or at least reprimand a CSR who tried to bring a bit of levity to the proceedings.

There are obviously situations where joking around might be a big risk — most people contacting an insurance companies would probably not no what to make of being greeted in this way. But companies make the mistake of confusing “businesslike” and “scripted.”

Customer service work should be a true craft, in which the best CSRs are constantly adjusting their responses to the individual customer’s personality and the needs of each case. If CSRs are not allow to occasionally demonstrate they are human, how can they all be expected to treat customers like human beings?

Here’s the full version of the Netflix transcript:

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.