Norm walks into Cheers and what happens … wait for it …


I believe it’s true that “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.” I bet your customers want the same thing. And the next two things that happen when Norm walks into Cheers complete the lesson in customer service.

Identify • Anticipate • Serve

In the case of Cheers, Identify is when Norm walks in (facial recognition), Woody or Sam Anticipate why Norm is there (historical data evaluation) and they quickly Serve their customer (the beer usually arrives about the same time that Norm sits in his favorite bar stool). I affectionately call this the “Norm Factor.”

I experienced my own “Norm Factor” when dealing with my insurance company several years ago. I had loaned my car to a friend’s daughter and got the dreaded phone call … ”Um, Mr. Bowling, yeah, I kinda backed into one of those steel poles that protect gas pumps…”

After making sure everyone was all right, I dialed the insurance company’s 1-800 number — the same number that all of their customers use. The first message I heard was, “Thank you for calling [X], please enter your four-digit security code.” After entering my code, I was greeted by the automated attendant: “Hello, Eric.” At an instant, the company had used my Caller ID and secret PIN to Identify me and use my name, just as when Norm walks into Cheers.

Now that they knew who was on the phone, the attendant Anticipated why I was calling. “Are you calling about your homeowners or your automobile policy?” Notice that they didn’t offer me a long list of options to choose from, because they knew that I only have two policies. After I said “automobile,” they transferred me to the next available agent but used the short wait time to remind me of their other product and service offerings — as any good company should. Nice cross-selling.

“Hello, Mr. Bowling, this is Amanda. Is everything all right?” Here is where they began to Serve my needs, understanding that I may have been shaken up or even hurt. (What is the most likely event that would cause you to call your auto insurance company?)

As you can probably tell by now, I am and will remain a loyal customer of this company, not because of the Product they sell (insurance) or even the Cost of their product (there are less expensive options available). What outweighs both is the Experience I have when dealing with them. Every time, it’s like I’m walking into Cheers.

Caution: Here’s the commercial part of this post. You may be thinking that this is all well and good for a big insurance company, but I can’t afford the level of system integration and automation that would deliver such an effortless customer experience. While that may have been true several years ago, innovations in customer service technologies have brought this capability to the small and medium business.

Don’t know where to start? IPC’s Customer Innovation Team can help. Reach out and we’ll help you develop your own “Norm Factor” for your customers.