‘Scriptease’ is one of those things that drive me mad! You’ll have experienced it I’m sure. It happens when the person serving you as a customer ‘follows the script’ rather than listens to, and engages with you. It’s the lady in the supermarket who asks ‘Do you want any help with your packing?’ when you’ve only bought one bottle of milk; it’s the waiter who asks ‘Is everything ok with your meal?’ as he looks away and starts to walk as you start to give some feedback, it’s the sales rep who’s busy raving about his latest product even though you clearly have no interest.
It happens in lots of businesses, and the reasons are many. Is it easier to follow the ‘script’ in your business? Are you even guilty of doing it yourself. Here are 10 ideas to eliminate it from your company:
1. Spot It Happening!
Get someone to ring up your own business or visit it to make an enquiry. How good are your people at dealing with enquiries? Ask them to feedback on their experiences. Consider a ‘mystery shopper’ exercise. Establish ongoing feedback systems that allow customers to tell you when it’s happening – reward them for spotting it!
2. Throw Out The Rule Book!
In your business exists a book. It’s a book of rules, regulations and procedures that people quote from verbatim and use daily. You’ll never find it! It’s invisible, but somehow it lives, breathes and influences behaviours in your business. Some of the rules are good, many are limiting. Your challenge is to discover its negative contents, and throw them out. Examples include ‘We can’t…’ ‘We must…’ and ‘I’m not allowed…’ Ask your people about it – many will quote it word for word.
3. Champion Your Customer Champions!
Who creates the best reaction from your customers in your business? Work out what they do, how they do it, what they say and how they say it! Replicate it! Get others to learn from them. Encourage (and reward) them to share their experience. What’s the reward for being great with customers in your business? (In too many, it means you get to deal with more of them, i.e. lots more work!).
4. Empower Your People
It’s a buzzword, but true empowerment is about giving people the confidence, skills and permission to think, anticipate and actually do things. Confidence is about support, encouragement and leadership; skills is about training, development and learning; permission is about setting and communicating clear guidelines for all. “I have only empowered my people to say ‘Yes’ to a customer. If they want to say ‘No’ they have to talk to a manager and clear it with them first” Jan Carlzon, author of Moments of Truth, on his time as CEO at Scandinavian Airline Systems.
5. Hire For Attitude!
Recruit frontline people who can demonstrate their listening and conversation skills. Assess their ability to build rapport, think on their feet, identify problems, be spontaneous and generate ideas. Do your recruitment processes find these aptitudes? If not, change them! “We don’t look for high systems knowledge and 80% of our recruitment is NOT from banking. The ability to speak their minds, project their personality and high levels of resilience are much more important” David Mead, when he was Customer Service Director at First Direct.
6. Ban Scripts
Simple. Let’s move on.
7. Generate Alternatives
Get your team together and encourage them to come up with ‘conversation generators’, ideas for dealing with specific scenarios, problems, and enquiries. ‘Role play’, work out what works, replace what doesn’t. Train people, encourage them to experiment, set challenges, have fun!
8. Role Model
Sometimes we need a ‘spark’ to help us. Sometimes we need some inspiration. Other times, we just need someone to learn from. Who sets the standards that wow you? Don’t restrict yourself to your industry (you might all be poor!). Get your people to call, visit and talk to them. What do they do well that impresses you? What can you learn? No, don’t simply copy them… work out what you can ‘borrow, ‘amend’ and ‘improve’. Encourage your team to do the same. Why not ask your customers who they think you can learn from?
9. Measure Impacts
Monitor and measure levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, repeat business, conversion rates, sales, not just length of calls, number of calls, or number of rings. Remember it’s about quality and quantity. What gets, measured, gets managed. Let your people know what’s important. If they understand it’s about customer engagement, satisfaction and service, they can adjust their behaviours accordingly.
10. Get Your Personality Across
How do you want people to feel about your business? What lasting impression do you want to make? What is your competitive advantage? Answer these questions and then answer this one… Does the way we interact with our customers totally reinforce this? If it doesn’t, then do something about it today.
‘Scriptease’ exists in so many businesses – please make sure it doesn’t happen in yours!