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Flip the Script: A Lesson on Genuine Interaction

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In our household, there’s a new rule. The kids are only allowed to drink water. No more sodas, no milkshakes, no root beer floats. But ordering “just water” made one fast food worker’s head spin. Here’s what happened.

After several thousands of dollars in dental bills we’ve made, we created this edict. No sweet beverages, no teeth-rotting drinks. We’re pushing back against candy and dessert as well, except in moderation.

Soda Bottles

© Flickr user eddie welker

I know: we’re terrible un-indulging parents. No doubt we’ll be on the Dr. Phil show answering to our sugar banning ways in the future. I asked for the unthinkable one day while at a drive-through: a kids meal with water. The poor gal on the other end of the speaker acted as if I had asked for the meaning of life.

Apparently, there was no button for water with a kids meal, so she told me I couldn’t order it. The register was her script and if it wasn’t written, it obviously couldn’t be done. Thankfully my negotiation skills (or sarcasm) helped solve the issue and we were given the water as requested.

Here’s my message to you:

Scripts. Don’t use them. Ever!

They’re a terrible, insincere, ineffective way to communicate with your customers. They’re a one-sized fits all approach to unique situations, problems and people. Not only do they send a message of generic intent, but they cripple your people in customer service/inside sales roles. Scripts become a crutch in which employees hobble around, and use in place of strategic problem solving and meaningful conversation.

Here’s what I really want to tell people reading from a script:

  • “Stop Talking’ – I know they’re trying to do their job, but what they’re not being mindful of is my time. I didn’t call to hear you ramble on about solutions that don’t apply to me. I’m tuning you out and getting frustrated by the second. Instead of rambling please LISTEN! After all, I’m calling for my reasons not yours.
  • “I don’t trust you!” – Nothing about the words you’re reading sound like they’re meant for me. They’re meant to appease whatever manager handed them down to you. I don’t trust that you have my best interest or needs in mind. When trust is nonexistent your competition can swoop in and steal me away with the lure of lower price.
  • “Do you repeat this in your sleep?” – I’m honestly curious if the representative, inside sales folk etc. dream about the repetitious words coming out of their mouths. Here’s my fear as a customer care trainer, you’re missing grand opportunities to uniquely find and solve client problems thus creating loyal and lasting relationships.
  • “Let them use their Brain!”– And you, Mr. Manager, quit providing them your words. They’ve earned this position for a reason. Your script says “I don’t trust you have the smarts to figure this out on your own.” You’re doing yourself, your company, your employees, and customers a disservice by making their brain take a break while their eyes and mouths take over.

Scripts drive me crazy. It’s not that you can’t have a few guidelines for things to say or not to say. But if I’m calling about a problem with my account and you respond with “How can I exceed your expectations today” I’m probably going to respond with “You can exceed my expectations by not having this problem in the first place.”

Instead: empower your people to be proactive problem solvers. Give them tools and invest in their people knowledge. Allow them to screw up, break their noses, and learn from their mistakes. When you encourage your front line to use their own ideas, words, and data you’re laying a foundation for trust and trust fosters results. Teaching tactics will always trump teaching scripts.

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Amy Woodall

Amy Woodall

A gifted and entertaining presenter, Amy is a specialist in personality. She works for TrustPointe, an authorized Sandler training center. Her mastery of the language of DISC makes her a game-changer for any organization. Street-wise yet professional, Amy brings an edge to how people communicate and connect. Part Oprah and part Dr. Phil, her presentations can slap an audience and get them appreciating that “We’re all different!”
Amy Woodall


EVP of Sandler, Trustpointe International Speaker/Trainer Sales-Leadership-Customer Care-DISC-Effective Communication-Mindfulness
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Amy Woodall
Amy Woodall

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