By Nancy Friedman, President / Keynote Customer Service Speaker / Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training
For years I have been working with companies to upgrade, tweak and help with scripts their sales and/or customer service reps.
Fast forward. Now we’re trying to get our clients who ask for help with a script to consider going to conversations with aided recall.
There is danger and pitfalls to both scripts and conversations though. Let me explain.
Scripts were designed for actors. Actors know how to read a script. Most folks don’t. It’s that simple. When you give a person a script they tend to ‘read’ it. Well what’s wrong with that Nancy? Aren’t you suppose to read a script?
Yes, but it’s the old ‘HOW’ you read it that counts. We have all been accosted by a phone call and someone poorly reading their script. Yawn, yawn or worse.
And in the professional scripts there are words for everyone (all actors) to respond. In your business script there’s normally only words for what the rep is saying. There are no words for the customer – the responder (the other actor). Oh there may be some things like “if the customer says this, you say that;” “if the customer says that, you say this.” Do we say, “Excuse me, sir, that’s not in my script?”
Here’s a big time tip: If you want to continue using scripts, that’s fine; however, we suggest you have the person who will be reading the script READ the script to you. Or better yet, over the phone to you, as well. How does it sound? Tape it. Let them hear it too. Let them go to another room and call in on your cell or another phone. It’s not a big deal. And the best time to do this is in the interview.
But what happens if you already have them on board and now after reading this you realize they’re just reading the script blah, blah, blah? We can lose a lot of business that way. Or you can do our DRAMA 101.
That’s when you have someone you really want to hire (or is already on staff), but you’re not happy with the ‘read’ or the audition.
DRAMA 101: Bring in a newspaper or magazine article. Tell them they’re being interviewed for FOX News or CNN and have them read the article as they would on the air. It’s very sobering.
Scripts are ok and if used right, even great. But those that use scripts need to be great IMPROV folks. Improv isn’t easy. But it’s a great exercise in having a conversation. Some of us are good at it; some are not.
Let’s face it. The folks coming into the workplace today, the millennials and such, aren’t very versed in ‘conversations.’ After, “Hey, how ya doing?” or “Hey, what’s up?” there’s not much else. So we’re going to need to teach them – show them – help them:
- How to read a script or
- How to handle and interact in a conversation. Believe me, neither is a piece of cake.
One other thing about scripts. I’m a professional actress and have worked with some big names over the years. We all memorized a script. What you find when you read a script is a possessiveness from the author. Anyone who has written a script doesn’t like you to change the words. And you shouldn’t. They were written with a reason.
Take Neil Simon, the brilliant play writer. If we changed his words we might not get the same laughs, the same reaction. So when you’re given a script and you want to change stuff, ASK about changing words before you do it. Changing authors words without permission could cause collateral damage. Like your job!
I’ve given you a quick tip on how to work with the scripts. Now here’s some for ‘conversations.’
Some of us can have a conversation with a tree and come out looking good. We understand a conversation. We know how to ask questions. We’re quick on our feet. We turn on a dime. But we’re not all the same. Some of us need a bit of help. Ok, most. Think about having the staff use some sort of aided recall.
AIDED RECALL: These are bullet points that will help guide the conversation along. They allow the person to handle a conversation better until they ‘get it’ and perhaps stand on their own. Which, sadly, they may never. You need to understand that. It’s sort of a ‘cheat sheet’ if you will.
Aided recall bullet points are words or short phrases that will help the rep remember the entire phrase. Example: If we wanted the rep to say: “I’m calling for a donation. You made a $50 pledge last year and we hope we can count on you this year.”
The bullet point might be: “donation/thank you/again/please.”
You see, it’s key words that make the conversation good. And bullet points help.
So unless you’re hiring Matthew McConaughey who can read the script right, try some of our tips.
Did you ever notice on some of the talk shows how some of the famous folks can’t handle a simple conversation? That’s because they can only handle a script. The words need to be written out for some folks. And some folks can turn on a dime.
So, as I say, there are pitfalls to both the script or the conversation. Make sure you know what your folks are best at doing.
KEY POINT: Be sure you hear them on the phone with you before you put them on the phone with your customers!
Remember, most folks taking or making calls for you are not seasoned sales people or actors. They’re good hard working folks who can scare the lead away.
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Nancy Friedman is a featured keynote customer service speaker covering communications skills and showing you how to capture & navigate the call.
Nancy is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and hundreds of other radio and TV shows.
The author of eight books on sales and customer service, Nancy is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs.