By Deborah Campbell (Customer Impact editor)

Employees who work in retail, restaurants, hotels and other front line customer service positions have many things in common with actors and comedians. They need to play a role while on duty.  While their place of employment is not a theatre or movie set, a customer service employees workplace is their stage. Why not learn some tricks of the trade.

Customer service employees need to think and respond quickly on their feet. Comedians call that IMPROV.  For comedians, one of the first rules of improvisational comedy, is Don’t Negate.  When in the midst of a scene, actors make statements about what is occurring and about their surroundings.  If the other actor in the scene responds by negating those statements, it destroys the energy of the scene.  Actors who are skilled at improv know that the correct response in all situations is to Affirm And Add, and the easiest tool to use when affirming and adding is the phrase, “Yes, and…”  Even if you do not approve of where your acting partner is taking the scene, you accept the suggestion, but you can make it your own when you add to it.

All of our interactions in life are improvisational and unscripted, so this is a rule that can be applied well when interacting with people in the workplace, when conversing with friends or when providing customer service.  I’m sure that you have heard the hackneyed phrase, “The customer is always right.”  We all know that the customer is not technically always right.  The true meaning of this phrase is that, when handling a customer, you should never negate.  You should instead affirm and add.  You accept what the customer is saying, which shows that you are listening and that you value the customer’s opinion.  If you do not agree with what is being said, you can use “Yes, and…” to build on what the customer has said.  Applying this rule of improv can turn a potentially negative interaction into a positive experience.

Have you ever encountered a customer service situation that could have been improved by using the rule Don’t Negate?  Are there any other areas of life where the “Yes, and…” tool could be useful?

Contact a Mystery Shopping Company For more information on how you can improve your customer service training.



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