At Your Service: Would you like fries with that? Pros and cons of customer service scripting

Russ Dantu
March 19, 2019
By Russ Dantu
We’ve all heard it many times before. Those words or lines that employees are told to use on us by their superiors, whether they are in telephone sales or face-to-face. Is this a good thing? Do you find it annoying?

I remember years ago when I was in B.C. at a water slide with the family. We’d climb the stairs to where the five different slides set out. There was a young lady there who would give the go-ahead before each person could start their journey. Her script was simple: “You may go now, bu-bye!” She said the same thing every time we came to the top, over and over again and apparently she did this day in and day out, throughout the entire summer (we had other friends that also visited that commented on it). Her expression didn’t change. It drove me absolutely crazy and I only heard it each time we climbed the stairs. I felt for this poor young lady as it must have driven her crazy as well. I found it strange that she either didn’t take it upon herself to change it up a bit. Maybe it was mandated that she had to follow the exact script.

I think scripts can be useful when you have a new employee so that they learn more quickly to ask the right questions or to say the right things, but I also believe we need to trust our employees. Give them a bit of room to put their own spin on things to get the message across.

At the end of the day, if the result turns out to be what we want it to be, does it really matter if they follow a script? Obviously, safety always has to be a concern and we always need to stick to the script if safety is involved. But some managers micromanage their employees too much with scripts for sales calls and customer service responses. They set their rules as to how things need to be done and there is no grey area. If you don’t follow the rules, find a new job! I really believe this stunts the growth of our employees.

The other issue is, you can usually tell when someone is reading from a script as they come across as reading from a script instead of keeping it conversational. It is too mechanical and not personal. If they are replying to a customer service complaint, they might be told to always say, “Sorry for your inconvenience.” But does their voice actually carry any empathy when saying it, or it is actually more angering because the customer can tell it’s a rote, scripted response?

If you are going to insist your employees use a script, I strongly suggest the following:

Test them to see how it feels to chat with them. Is it so canned that a person will know it is?

Allow them some space to create their own script. Letting their creative juices flow just might open your eyes to some great ideas.

Ask your customers for feedback on their experience speaking to specific employees.

Change up the script every few weeks to give it a new and refreshing life.

Hire a professional writer if this is not your area of expertise. Having someone write something specific for your business might work out better than you think because when we have outside eyes looking into our businesses, sometimes great ideas appear.

Teach them empathy and practice actually meaning it when dealing with upset customers.

Allow your more seasoned employees to avoid using scripts altogether and see how they do.

I still use a rough script myself when cold-calling potential customers. From time to time I change it up because I get sick of hearing the same message. Scripts can be powerful and useful if done properly – just don’t be too forceful in sticking to it, if something is working equally as well.

That’s all I’ve got for this month….you may go now, bu-bye!


Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer servicce for over 15 years. For more information, visit russdantu.com or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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