Should You Use a Script or Have a Conversation?

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker; Customer Service Expert; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training

 

Scripts were designed for actors. END OF SUBJECT!

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 supposed 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, inbound or outbound, with someone poorly reading their script. Yawn, yawn; barf, barf or worse.

With a professional script, there are written words for the other person to respond. In your business script, there’s normally only words for what your employee is saying. There are no words for the customer, the responder (the other actor/or the customer). Oh, there may be some things like ‘if the customer says this; you say that. If the customer says that; you say this.’ (Sort of like “eat this; not that.”)

So, what happens if the customer says something that makes the rep go off course in your script? 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, I suggest you have the person who will be reading the script actually READ the script to you before they get on the phone, or better yet, read it to you over the phone. 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.) The best place to do this is in the initial interview.

But what happens if you already have them on board? And now after reading this blog you realize they’re just reading the script blah, blah, blah.

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, go for DRAMA 101. Bring in a newspaper or magazine article. Tell them they’re being interviewed for their local TV Station, FOX News or CNN. Ask them to read the article as they would on the air. Be patient. It’s very sobering.

Scripts are ok if used right. But those that use scripts need to be great IMPROV folks. Improv is not easy. But it’s a good exercise in having a conversation. Some of us are good at it, some are not.

Let’s face it. The folks coming into the work place today, 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 . . .

A.  How to read a script

or

B.  How to handle and interact in a conversation.

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. Anyone who has written a script (the author) doesn’t like you to change their words. And you shouldn’t. They were written with a reason.

Often, employees who are given a ‘script’ tend to change the wording without asking or realizing why words are there. Not a great idea. I repeat: Script are for actors.

Now let’s talk about “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 for conversations.

AIDED RECALL. These are bullet points that help guide the conversation along. They allow the person to handle a conversation better until they ‘get it’ and perhaps stand on their own. It’s a cheat sheet, if you will.

Aided recall or bullet points are words or short phrases that will help the rep remember the entire phrase/sentence. They’re the ‘important’ words you don’t want to miss from the conversation.

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 aided recall 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 these 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 and have a great conversation.

There are pitfalls to both the script and the conversation. Make sure you know what your folks are best at doing.

KEY POINT: Be sure you hear (or audit) them on the phone before you put them on the phone with your customers. Remember, most folks taking or making calls for you are not seasoned salespeople or actors. They need rehearsal time.

The other day I called a cable company with my problem. It was obvious the young lady was ‘reading’ a script. It was not fun. I thought long and hard before I said, “Suzie, please put your script away and just talk with me.” There was dead silence. I told her it would be ok. She started to make excuses. And I said again, “Please, just talk with me.” She did and she was so much better than the script. It all worked out. I know I felt better and I believe she did as well.

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly