As a sales and leadership expert, I want to ask you a question critical to your business outcomes: Do you insist your that your sales people and customer service people rely on scripts or do they use agendas?
In my experience, scripts lead to failure and agendas lead to customer satisfaction. Here’s why. If you’re reading from a script, you have no capacity for listening because you’re worrying about getting the words out from that piece of paper. An agenda is completely different and offers much greater freedom. Agendas say that you have to do a couple of things on your call and get to a certain place, but you’re going to listen to the customer’s responses so you can respond in kind and let the customer know you’re truly listening.
Many years ago I was on a plane from Newark to Tucson, flying first class on a very expensive ticket, and a call came through for the family to get together in San Diego because my uncle, who had cancer, was in his last days. When I landed in Tucson, I called my client and then I called my airline and explained the situation and the help I would need with a bereavement fare to get home to New Jersey from San Diego. Despite the fact that I flew frequently with them—considered them to be “my” airline—and had just flown on a very expensive ticket, they insisted they could not help me because my family crisis had started after I was already in the air. I argued with the customer service agent on the phone, and then hung up and called Southwest Airlines.
The customer service agent said, “Mr. Karr, I’m so sorry. We don’t have bereavement fares because we already have such low prices, but most importantly let me say on behalf of Southwest Airlines, I am so sorry that you have to travel to San Diego under these trying circumstances.” I felt listened to—and I wasn’t even their customer! At that point I figured maybe I’d had a rogue customer service agent at the major airline so I called back to try again—and I got into the same exact argument, word for word.
Fast forward six months: I am flying to Hawaii for vacation and after takeoff I ask the person next to me, “What do you do for a living?” And she said she worked in reservations for the airline that had given me so much grief. I proceeded to explain that situation to her, and she started laughing. She said, “Here’s what happened. The first agent documented the conversation, and the second agent basically just read it off the screen.”
I was stunned. I was a faithful customer of this airline, and they just read lines off a screen to me rather than listening to me. They stuck to the script rather than having an agenda to build a relationship with their customer. What a disappointment.
The key to connecting with your customers is being in the moment with them. It’s listening to what they’re saying and then responding to exactly what they just said rather than worrying about getting your script out. For more information on how to Sell More with Agendas, contact me.