Blow Up the Script in Finishing Customer Service

Do you follow the same routine with every customer? That may not be a good thing.


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Does much of your life follow a script? Consider a trip to the grocery store: I find the parking spot closest to the front door, exit the vehicle, walk through the front door and secure a basket or cart. I always visit the produce section first, then the meat counter, the deli and then choose what I need from the aisles. Proceed to the checkout line, find the shortest one, wait, place my items on the belt and watch the checkout person scan them over the window. Pay with my debit card, take the bags to the car and exit the parking lot. Same routine, same script, every time.

Though we may not realize it, many of our experiences follow a script, a paradigm of sorts in which sequential events roll out in a particular order every time.

The restaurant routine works the same way. We are greeted at the door, taken to our table, someone brings water, someone else takes a drink order, returns with beverages and jots down the meal order, returns with the food, we eat, we pay, we leave. Same routine, same script every time.

The book “The Power of Moments” (Simon and Schuster, 2017) provides a great analysis of the effect scripts have on the way we perceive and analyze our experiences, and also demonstrates that we have the opportunity to create memorable moments for friends, family and customers when we blow up the script. An experience that follows the script is, almost by definition, never memorable. It is when we make an exception to the script that we create a memorable experience.

Is there a script in our client’s experience with a contract surface finisher? Most certainly.

The client has a need for a part to be coated or plated. They issue a request for quotation to the surface finisher. The finisher provides the quote. The client accepts the quote and issues a purchase order. The parts arrive at the dock, are processed by the finisher in time for the due date, ushered through a final inspection step and are returned to the client who signs a packing list. The invoice is sent and 30 days later it is paid. Same routine, same script, every time.

But the more a finisher follows the script, the more the finisher becomes a commodity. If a customer’s experience is identical, regardless of whether their order is placed with Finisher A or Finisher B, then the only differentiator is price. And when price is the only differentiator, the finisher’s margins suffer as the client plays one finisher against the other.

To create sticky customers, the finisher must blow up the script.

The finisher provides the quote. What if the quote was provided faster than any other finisher could? What if the quote was delivered almost immediately after the request was received?

The client accepts the quote and issues a purchase order. Is the purchase order immediately acknowledged by the finisher? Are the lead time and due date confirmed?

The parts arrive at the dock. Is the client notified that the parts have been received and have passed incoming inspection? What if the finisher sent the customer a digital photo of the parts arriving safely on the dock, accompanied by a commitment to care for them through the entire process? What if, included in the photo, was one of the customer service representatives assigned to track them through the plant?

The parts are processed by the finisher. Is the customer notified that the order has been initiated? Could the finisher provide another photo – or better yet a video – of the parts being carefully loaded onto the line by the racker? Could the customer be provided access to a portal to view the initial inspection report? Could they also view a status report demonstrating that the processing of the order has been completed in time for the due date? Are the parts always completed on or before the due date? Is the order free if the due date isn’t met? Does the president of the finishing company personally call and apologize to the customer for the inconvenience of missing the date?

The parts are ushered through a final inspection step. Is a customer made aware that the parts have arrived at the final inspection stage? Are the results available on the customer portal? Is a card listing the name of the final inspector, inspection date and results included with the order? Is a photo or video of the actual inspected and approved order available to or sent to the customer? Are final piece counts confirmed and provided to the customer?

The parts are returned to the client who signs a packing list. Does a customer service representative make a call confirming that the order has been received by the company and that the client’s experience was perfect? What if the president of the finisher accompanied the driver to every client at least once a year to meet the client’s team and solicit feedback on the finisher’s performance and opportunities to improve?

The invoice is sent and 30 days later it is paid. Does a member of the accounting team send a note thanking the customer for their payment?

The finisher has infinite opportunities to blow up the script.

Does your customer’s experience follow the same routine, same script every time? Would the script be any different if the order was sent to your competitor? If you want to blow up your top line – in a good way – it’s time to blow up the script.