Scripted Service It has been two years since you took over your family’s chain of specialty neighborhood bakeries located in areas with high foot traffic.82 Through-out the city, your stores are the choice for birthday cakes, Christmas cookies, Valentine’s Day cupcakes, and the daily doughnut. Even though sales are steady, you want to grow and are having a difficult time figuring out exactly how to increase revenues. For the past three weeks, you have spent each day in a different store, stocking cases, slicing bread, and generally pitching in where needed, but mostly you have been observing. As luck would have it, about 80 percent of your stores are located near or next to a Starbucks. On your way to the stores each morning, you have stopped to get your morning coffee, and at each Starbucks, you have been greeted quickly, chatted with the clerk, ordered, heard your order repeated across the bar, used a loaded Starbucks card to pay, been asked if you want your balance, and been told to have a nice day. Today is the same. As you wait for your coffee, you think about the contrast between this prescribed sequence and what you have been seeing in your own stores. Even though your clerks serve customers efficiently, they do so in various ways. Some clerks are outgoing, talking and laughing with the customer while assembling the order. Other clerks are more reserved, filling the order quickly but with little conversation and barely a smile. Now that you have noticed these differences, everywhere you shop you’ve been paying attention to sales speech patterns, which appear scripted and repetitive but pleasantly predictable. From the grocery (“Do you have any coupons?” and “Paper or plastic?”) to the fast-food restaurant (“Do you want fries with that?” and “For here or to go?”), the patterns are most noticeable during busy periods. Clerks follow the same speech sequence with every customer. A little research reveals that numerous companies require employees to follow a script. At McDonald’s, the script is concerned with speech: for example, workers must say “May I help you, ma’am?” instead of “Can I help someone?” At Olive Garden, the script adds actions to the words: greet the table within 30 seconds of sit-down; take the drink order within three minutes; during ordering, suggest fi ve items (drink, side dish, dessert, specials, and special offers); after food arrives, check back within three minutes. At Starbucks, things are more relaxed, but there is still a script to guide employee interactions with customers looking for a latte. After a week of observing these scripted encounters, you begin to wonder if you should write a sales script for your bakery staff. If interactions were standardized, you might be able to increase efficiency and sales revenue. A script might be a great help during the morning and the after-school rush, as well as a useful training tool for new hires; it might help them feel more confident behind the counter. Since you want to grow, a script could also help you get up and running faster in new locations. But how would your current employees feel about it? They all have different ways of working with customers. About half of them have been with you or many years and know the ropes already. And how would your customers respond? The bakery could lose some of its neighborly appeal when customers recognize the canned speech. You hear the barista call out, “Triple-shot venti extra hot latte,” so you go collect your coffee. She looks you right in the eye, smiles, and says, “Have a nice day!”
1. Which historical management technique best describes scripted service speech and scripted employee behavior? Explain your choice.
2. Do you implement a customer-encounter script at your bakeries? Why or why not?
3. Imagine that you have decided to implement a script for your frontline employees. Write the service script for bakery clerks.
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