Amazon: Warmest greetings…, my name is Thor.
Customer: Greeting, Thor. Can I be Odin?
Amazon: Odin, Father, How art thy doing on this here fine day?
Customer: Thor, my son. Agony raises upon my life.
These are the beginning lines of an (unauthenticated and unscripted) exchange between an Amazon customer care agent and a customer. The transcript was widely published on the Internet, with readers everywhere delighted by a customer service experience that was genuine, amusing, and, most of all, successful—the customer got his lost book, and with one-day delivery to boot.
Why were people so taken by this conversation? Because it’s rare for business exchanges to reveal such personality, yet it’s an absolute pleasure when they do.
Many customer care exchanges involve the use of scripts, which are designed to provide consistency. But there’s much to be said for occasionally and strategically leaving the script behind—the key word being “strategically.” Sometimes it’s better to go outside the lines. It’s also up to you to help your Communicators recognize when and why this strategy works.
Customer personalities vary, and Communicators may need to adapt accordingly. While two callers may have the same problem, they may not be handling it the same way, with one person more relaxed and the other much more anxious. In that case, the same script won’t work equally well for both parties. One may require more empathy and assurances for a positive outcome, which means having a more genuine conversation.
Also, service across multiple channels requires a more natural flow. While scripting was intended to promote consistency, it falls short when customers start communication via a website, for example, and continue it by phone or texts. Whether it’s a few minutes or a few days between exchanges, Communicators need to keep the flow going, preventing the customer from having to start over again every time.
There are plenty of other reasons to “seize the day” and go off-script, and the more you talk about these openly with your Communicators the better off you’ll be. The more flexible you are, the more successful your Communicators will be at building relationships. For that, reading people is more important than reading scripts.
Steve Brubaker began his career at InfoCision in 1985. In his current role as Chief of Staff and as a member of the Executive Team, he is responsible for HR, internal and external communications, and manages the company’s legal and compliance departments. Brubaker is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the DMA, SOCAP, and PACE. He also donates his time to serve on several university boards, including the Executive Advisory Board for The Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron and The University of Akron Foundation Board. He is a frequent speaker for national events and has also been honored with a number of awards and recognitions for his contributions to the call center industry.