Down with scripting

I see a trend going in the right direction ...

In companies where front-line employees have direct customer contact, it's common for there to be a "12-step process" or "19-point customer service checklist" that tells employees what they have to do when they meet a customer. Often, these companies hire people to pose as customers and rate employee compliance on these steps. I heard a story of a hotel front desk clerk who received an apology at check-out from one of these hired "blind" shoppers who said, "You were one of the best people I've seen in this company, but I'm going to have to give you a bad grade because you skipped a lot of steps."

Ugh. Not surprisingly, when I work with front-line employees at companies like this they tell me how silly the scripted processes are. One company I worked with had a 38-step process. Luckily, none of the employees I interviewed knew what the 38 steps were.

The good news ... I'm starting to see companies realize the folly of this rigid employee scripting. Recent comment from the operations V.P. of a client company: "We don't need a 16-step process. We need one step: Connect with the customer."

Is this a trend that is really happening? If so, is it all good, or am I missing something?