Lots of businesses have standard responses to customer enquiries and encourage their people to do the same. It's what we call 'scriptease'. And it's an unfortunate truth that it's easier to follow the script than it is to actually listen to, engage with and help your customers.
This ticks the boxes, but does it really give your customers what they want? For example, here are some things that your business might be saying, whether it's online, offline, written or said. It's followed by what your customers are really thinking when they hear it.
Your business says: "Your call is important to us"
What your customer really thinks: "If my call was THAT important to you, surely you'd answer it!"
Your business says: "For enquiries, dial 1.... for accounts dial 2.... for service dial 3...."
What your customer really thinks: "I know you don't really want to talk to me and you hope I'll get bored clicking all those buttons and stop bothering you!"
Your business says: "Please Hold!"
What your customer really thinks: "If by "Hold" you mean take a moment to reflect on your poor customer service and how I should take my business elsewhere? Then yes, I'll hold"
Your business says: "Hi there, could you give me your personal details and order number please?"
What your customer really thinks: "Of course, I'm happy to give my details to you - just like I did to your colleague - and the one before that too. They haven't changed in the whole 15 minutes since I first gave them!"
Your business says: "Have a nice day!"
What your customer really thinks: "Oh, thanks for that great idea! That never occurred to me! I certainly will now - I was planning to have a bad one until you kindly suggested that!"
Your business says: "Please pay your online booking fee of..."
What your customer really thinks: "Thank you - I really relish having to pay extra for the privilege of paying you money for my goods and services - thank you"
Your business says: "Do you have a loyalty card?"
What your customer really thinks: "Yes, here it is - little do you know I'm two timing you! In fact, actually I'm a tart - I've got loads of them! You just happened to be nearest today!"
Your business says: "Dear Valued Customer"
What your customer really thinks: "You mean so 'valued' that you don't know my name?"
Your business says: "Would you like a bar of chocolate with your newspaper? They're only a pound..."
What your customer really thinks: "Wow, thank you... I'd simply never thought of that! - I must have missed all those bars of chocolate looking at me on your shelves that I've just deliberately walked past!"
Your business says: "Dear Sir Or Madam"
What your customer really thinks: "Sir OR Madam? - you couldn't tell when you met me last week?"
Your business says: "PP" at the end of your letter
What your customer really thinks: "You mean you couldn't be bothered to sign it yourself? (or there's no one in your team you trust to fake your signature!)"
Your business says: "Would you like some help with your packing?"
What your customer really thinks: "No thanks - think I can manage my one loaf of bread and packet of crisps!"
Your business says: "Please enter the letters you can see on your screen"
What your customer really thinks: "I would if I could tell what it F3d6X£+? says!"
Your business says: "Special offer to our new customers"
What your customer really thinks: "Thank you so much - it's great to see that you value my loyalty and business"
Your business says: "Missing you already!"
What your customer really thinks: "I'm missing you already too - don't know what I'll do without you!"
So, how does your business measure up? Are you guilty of 'scriptease'? Do you allow it? Do you encourage it?
Here are some thing you could do to eliminate it.
Wait In Your Own Queues
Why not take a bit of time out to 'stand in your own queues' and see what it's like to be a customer of your business? That means contacting the business as a customer would to find out what it's really like when it comes to 'customer experience', both on- and offline.
So go on. Call your own business, make an enquiry on your own website, put in a request to your accounts department (and while I'm at it, listen to your own answer machine message!).
Involve Your Front Line Staff
Get your team together and encourage them to come up with ideas for dealing with specific scenarios, problems, and enquiries. Ask them what they think they should say and write. Encourage them to generate alternatives and work out what works, replace what doesn't. Train people, encourage them to experiment, set challenges, have fun!
Ask your customers what they think
What irritates or annoys them? Identify what they are looking for from you and the way you communicate and engage with them.
Crucially, whatever you do, the key is to then do something about it what you discover! Identify 'scriptease' in your business and get rid of it!
Thanks a lot for reading this - missing you already!