Expert’s Corner: Kevin Stirtz on Real People Rock!

rock-starI am pleased to have Kevin Stirtz as a guest blogger today here at Customers Rock! Kevin Stirtz is the Amazing Service Guy, a speaker and trainer who helps organizations of all kinds deliver Amazing Customer Service. His recent book: More Loyal Customers has won 5 star reviews at Amazon.com. Kevin lives in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul). I love the title of this post. It rocks!

Real People Rock! by Kevin Stirtz

A big mistake some companies make is they hire and manage people like they buy and manage equipment. They seem to believe people’s behaviors can be designed and managed like machines.

And a key tool in this strategy is the ever-present script. Most employees despise them. So do many customers. To a customer, a scripted employee sounds like a phony, uncaring employee.  This will not help you improve customer service.

Chris Garrett wrote a post recently about being real vs. phony. Here’s what he says about real people:

“Real people rock. If anything, I would always rather meet an imperfect human being than a fake robot. Be proud to be you, mistakes and all.”

When management forces unnatural scripting on employees, they can be become the robots Chris talks about. They say and do as they are programmed.  And this prevent them from delivering great customer service. Here’s why:

1. Scripts come from management

How much time does management spend serving customers? Probably very little. A smart, informed and engaged employee is better equipped to serve customers than a manager whose contact with customers comes from reports and surveys.

2. Scripts tend to serve the company’s interest first

Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an employee script knows they exist to help the company get what they want.  But this is in conflict with our real job which is to help our customers accomplish what they want, in a way that works for us.

3. Scripts cannot predict or address every situation

Because they are static and based on history, scripts can never replace the judgment of a well-informed and trained employee. Things change too fast. There are too many possibilities to plan for.

But the biggest problem with scripting and programming employees is that is devalues people. It discounts the worth and the capabilities of employees. It says:

“We don’t trust you enough to do your job so we will map out every detail for you. All you have to do is follow the road map you are given.”

Scripts disregard customers too. When you script your employees you are telling your customers, you don’t care about having a relationship with them. You’d rather just walk them through some impersonal steps like a machine and hope that satisfies them.

You want loyal customers? Hire real people and let them be real. Give them the guidance, encouragement and resources they need to help their customer accomplish what they want. Forget the scripts. Hire real people.

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4 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, scripts seem to proliferate in environments where real human service isn’t enabled. One of the aspects that distinguish the service organizations we consistently point to as being world-class is that their service is personalized, delivered by humans with the ability to adapt to the customer environment they are serving and make actual customer-impacting decisions.

    That this type of service is much stronger than the script-based service mentioned in the post is obviously understated, but it also takes a huge corporate commitment to make it possible.

    Everything from the service ethos displayed by management and staff to how they use central processes to hire for service orientation and give front line providers the tools – usually process and technology – goes into making human service possible on a grand scale.

    Scripts, on the other hand, require very little in terms of investment. They require a rule book, a communication & control mechanism, and supporting metrics. Scripts are easier and cheaper, which is precisely why they’re used, even though they’re usually inneffective.

  2. Excellent article. Human beings are imperfect and nothing can change that simple fact. Scripting will always fail in the end as it is always limited to the number of factors chosen by the programmer, but also because every person will act a little different in the same situation (and you cannot sometimes judge whether one is better than the second one).

    The main problem is that scripts are to replace human resources and time spent on something that (although far from perfection) is CHEAPER (read: inevitable in today’s world).

  3. “Real people rock. If anything, I would always rather meet an imperfect human being than a fake robot. Be proud to be you, mistakes and all.”

    I love this affirmation. Congrats Chris Garret, not many people can say such important things in such simple way.