Cincinnati Post - November 2003
Newsweek Japan - October 2003
Cincinnati Enquirer - July 2003
Additional newspaper coverage - August 2002
Boost revenues, customer loyalty, gain true competitive advantage.
It's common today for companies to insist that their CSRs follow scripts in their phone conversations with customers. But Karl Corbett, founder of Sasha Corporation in Cincinnati, has a different notion. He believes CSRs know better than scriptwriters what to say to customers.
|Corbett's program, called
Showtime, trains customer service employees using method acting principles,
made famous by Actors Studio in New York City. Actors trained in
the Method (Marlon Brando and Paul Newman are two well-known examples)
learn to reach emotional truth in their acting. The Method's goal is to
help the actor be spontaneous, or "in the moment."
Corbett, who learned method-acting principles while tagging along with a friend who was studying at the Actors Studio, realized that customers are looking for emotional truth just as audiences are, and that customer service staff needs to be "in the moment", much as actors do. He developed a two-hour customer service training program, supplemented by a videotape that can be used for refresher training and discussion.
Though acting is often linked with insincerity, Corbett bristles at the suggestion that he is training CSRs to be insincere. "It's not teaching people to fake it or pretend," he says, " but to be the person your customer wants you to be."
What customers want, generally, is an expert who can help them. "People come to you out of respect for your knowledge and expertise," Corbett explains to trainees. "It's up to you to honor that respect and be the expert they want you to be." And the only way to respond to the customer's needs is by "being in the moment -- by total, complete attention and awareness of what's going on right here, right now."
|"We're all on stage all
the time," Corbett adds, quoting Shakespeare's dictum "All the world's
a stage." Scripts, which he calls "canned customer service," require
acting too, but they leave no room for spontaneity, so customers
respond to them with irritation rather than gratitude.
Telephone service is especially difficult, Corbett says, because CSRs must use their imaginations to picture the "real, live, warm, breathing human being" on the other end of the phone. But CSRs who master the technique learn to trust their own judgment about how to respond to customers. Instead of depending on scripts, they can vary their language and tone to suit each customer.
This personalized service
has led to success for Corbett's clients. Many of them have reported increased
employee retention, and one client reports mystery-shopper satisfaction
scores rising by about 20 points.
ARTICLE AS IT ORIGINALLY
For more info and references, contact:
Karl Corbett, President
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Keywords: employee retention customer service training soft skills operations standards turnover costs sales excellence staff development method acting