Improvised solutions impress customers more

Throw away the script to be more authentic

Those of us who work on the stage are fortunate indeed - for we are blessed with an immediate and clear feedback system. If we work well, we are immediately rewarded with applause or laughter. If we do poorly, we are punished with silence, or jeers, or departure. (Or with another kind of laughter. Or with people throwing things. Or with people coming up on stage and trying to punch my head. But that's another story.)

The ace bit about this phenomenon is that it often lets you know precisely which bit of your experience design is working best. It's simple - if they responded well to that bit tonight, it was good. If they didn't, it needs some work. No problems there. But what does it tell us?

Now, much to our writer's chagrin, it is often the case that the biggest laugh of the night is rewarded to an "aside" - something you say which is outside the script. This can be a quick put-down to a heckler, a humorous reaction to a cellphone going off in the house, or a rapid quip in response to collapsing scenery or colleagues.

These asides are not usually the wittiest gag of the evening. To be honest, they are not usually very funny at all. They are not rooted in your character, or in the dramatic form, and they often lack depth and/or cleverness. But if they are halfway quick, and halfway decent, they get a monster laugh. Odd, isn't it?

The crucial bit is that - because these asides arise in response to a particular unplanned situation - they are obviously unscripted. And this makes them two things. They are:

1. unique
2. authentic

They are unique because the situation was a one-off, and the audience know it will never happen that way again. That laugh will not be there in tomorrow's show - it is their laugh.

They are authentic, because they obviously came from the actor himself - not from some highly paid, uncaring jokewriter. The gag was obviously invented right here and right now, by that living person standing right there.

All too often in service experiences, we feel that the employee is working to a script. And when they leave that script to improvise a solution for us, we are deeply impressed. We feel it was our personal solution - unique and authentic, invented by a real person.

So, how often do you ditch the script in your services? Or, if you are the big cheese, how do you respond when your staff throw the book away? Is there perhaps a way you can make your customers feel that every solution is authentic and unique - just for them?

improvised first aid pic from gregor_y at flickr
ditched script pic from z1784 at flickr

4 comments:

kat said...

Amen to that. Extra-relevant for people who literally use scripts.

Sadly, in those cases, the preferred solution is often to add "small talk" to the script, as if that would make everything feel less inhuman and artificial.

Subir Ghosh said...

great analogy brother. the marketing world's truly a stage, and the standard, uniform script is often an overkill.

Adam said...

Thanks both!

Adam

rufflemuffin said...

well said Adam.

I think the most poignant question here is, 'how do employers react when staff throw away the script'.

An authentic or unique service is more human...what we lack these days in the big organisations is human quality in service delivery.. depends on the line of work I guess.,,you'd be surprised at some of the atrocious 'scripted' police stories I've been hearing lately...no human understanding at all, no authenticity, no understanding, just pure script!

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