When Messages are More Important Than Words
When you want your team members to deliver an important message, it requires more than simply giving them words to say. In worst case scenarios, these phrases are barked out, mumbled or raced through, and misunderstood because of poor delivery. It’s not enough to SAY “Thank you”—your team members need to demonstrate it as well.
Fans of the old Doogie Howser TV show may recall watching Doogie, the boy genius who becomes a physician at age 14, struggling to learn how to master the phrase “You want fries with that” behind the counter at a fast-food place. (He was supposed to say it as a statement, not as a question.)
In a real situation, some years ago Kmart famously directed all of its employees to use the phrase “Thank you for shopping at Kmart” when concluding an interaction with customers. In internal communications, they shortened the phrase to TYFSAK to remind employees to use the phrase, even putting TYFSAK stickers on cash registers inside the store. The problem? Groups of employees were observed blurting out “TYFSAK” to customers who weren’t in on the code.
When you want your team members to deliver an important message to key customers, it requires more than simply giving them words to say. In worst case scenarios, these phrases can be barked out during busy times, mumbled or raced through, or easily misunderstood because of poor delivery technique. Customers are left thinking…WHAAAAT?
Steve experienced this the other day at a sandwich shop where he had to make a series of choices when ordering. The person behind the counter knew the prompts by heart, but raced through them, making them difficult to understand. Clearly, she was reciting rote phrases handed down by management. These phrases were new to Steve, the customer, even though they felt repetitive to the employee.
It’s a good practice to give your employees phrases and key messages to use in their work. It’s BETTER practice to TRAIN them how to use the phrases or deliver your messages, given that they will likely be repeating them hundreds of times a week. Many employees get bored with using the same phrase over and over, not to mention others who struggle with the phrase because of accent, regional cadence or intonation.
Your friends at EMS can help you devise a training program to make sure that your team members learn the words, understand the intent behind the words, and become able to use those words over and over, yet sounding fresh each time they say them.
What are the best and worst examples of greeting, response and thank you lines that you have heard from customer service people?