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08.05.14 | blog

Scripts Are For Hollywood, Not Customer Experiences

“Thank you for visiting, enjoy your day!” “Welcome, how can I help you?” “How many people will be dining with you today?” It is great to hear a friendly greeting when you walk into a store or a restaurant, even when you call a company, but it is often made so painfully clear that it is all scripted. Sticking out like a sore thumb it comes off as insincere. Not intentional, these types of customer service cues can make customers think ill of a business, annoyed at the overly friendly demeanor of a staff member, who was following a script their superior gave them.

These interactions happen all too often, leaving customers with nothing more than your product or service. In other words, a great customer experience leaves customers’ with a connection to your staff, an affinity for your brand, a longing to come back. They will rave to their friends, even promote your offerings – posting their review on the internet, and you can be assured that won’t be their last visit. 

The local coffee shop.

Consider a local mom and pop coffee shop. Every person that walks in is greeted differently, while aligning with the companies standards. “Hey there, what are you drinking today?” can change into “How’s your morning going?” for another customer. The coffee shop staff is willing to go the extra mile for customers because they understand that every customer is different, so why treat them all the same? It is this personalized experience that keeps locals coming back to the coffee shop, where they feel a personal connection, they know the barista and the barista knows them [and their drink].

The big mambo.

You are probably thinking, “my company isn’t a mom and pop coffee shop, so that personalized of a customer experience is impossible across my multi-million dollar organization.” Yet, Nordstrom, a company with revenues close to $8 billion, provides this tailored experience to every single customer in all 117 full-line stores, 140 Nordstrom Racks and two Jeffrey boutiques in 35 states. In fact, Nordstrom’s great customer experience is based on a rather simple premise combining two areas of thought – autonomy and standards.  

Autonomy is the first step. Letting the people who interact with your customers have the freedom to make their own decisions, while, of course being tactful. If they are well informed of the company’s culture and are aligned with the company’s standards, allowing the front line to use their best judgment is one step towards customer experience enchantment.

The second step is standards. Having stringent standards in place, coupled with autonomy will allow personnel to be themselves, bringing to light company standards and acting in a way they feel most comfortable, empowering them. Not everyone is able to step into a role and appear genuine, so it is key to let the people on your front line be themselves, while also making sure that they follow company standards. Not having a script allows an individual to be themselves, putting an end to the robotic, scripted interactions customers continue to experience.

To better illustrate just how well autonomy and standards work together to enhance the customer experience, consider my experience at Nordstrom a few months ago. I bought a blouse, which I stained – not even 48 hours after my purchase – and the stain was permanent. I brought the shirt back to Nordstrom to see if there were any other measures they could be taken that the dry cleaners did not. The sales lady took a look at the shirt and said, “That’s a great shirt. Don’t worry about the stain, go grab a new one.” I was in disbelief how nice the lady was and so appreciative that I got an entirely new shirt. It was a true testament to Nordstrom’s customer service and my great customer experience.

Vested Staff.

The sales woman did not have to ask her manager if she could give me the new shirt, nor did she consult anyone about getting the stain out. She had the autonomy to make that decision and she aligned that with Nordstrom’s stringent standards around customer centricity. She was empowered. And with that power she not only made my experience great, but she secured a loyal, repeat customer. 


Once you have standards in place, autonomy is easy. You just have to let go and give those individuals who interact with your customers the freedom and empowerment to deliver the best customer experience. The days of scripts are gone. The customer has expectations of a customized experience. We are all customers and we all know how we expect to be treated, your customers are no exception.

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