by Danielle Wallace
Content Strategy Manager
Studying remarkability in customer service since 2006

The other day I drove-thru a sandwich shop for dinner with my kids. We call this time of the day “sandwich-hour.” We are a sandwich-loving family.

In classic kid fashion, my kids ordered the sandwiches that come with no veggies or dressing. I asked if the sandwich craftsman would add mayo to the sandwiches. Sometimes I fear that my kids love mayo more than they love me.

Sandwich craftsman: I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t do that.
Me: Wait. What? Are you out of mayo?
Sandwich craftsman: No, but those sandwiches come without mayo, so I can’t put mayo on them.
Me: Aren’t you putting mayo on my sandwich?
Sandwich craftsman: Yes.
Me: Can you just squeeze a dab on theirs while you have it in-hand?
Sandwich craftsman: No, it’s against the sandwich policy.
Me: Seriously?
Sandwich craftsman: I’ll give you some mayo packets.
Me: Actually, I’d rather not have my car coated in mayo, so if you would please make an exception and put mayo on their sandwiches before you wrap them, I will greatly appreciate it.
Sandwich craftsman: I really can’t do that. I’ll give you extra mayo… ?
Me: *silence*
Sandwich craftsman: *silence*
Me: See you at the window.

Every mom knows that kids cannot be trusted with mayo packets. After side-eyeing the young sandwich craftsman, I took my fistful of mayo packets and pulled over to doctor my kids’ sandwiches.

The point is…

They give employees guidance, a script to follow. I imagine a sandwich chef, proud of his plain turkey on white, telling the employees “Under no circumstances will you put mayo on a sandwich that’s not designed to have mayo on it. If you must, give them the packets.”

I’m sure that’s not how it goes down. In fact, I’m almost certain this little “add mayo packets” step was a fix-it that’s costing a lot more money than a simple squirt from the assembly line mayo. And I’m definitely certain it’s costing the shop happy customers. I quickly became disgruntled as I sat in a parking spot near the drive-thru, balancing three mini baguettes on my leg and smearing mayo from tiny packets on each one. Not exactly the convenience you’d expect from a drive-thru.

This example takes the script to the negative extreme. But that’s not to say there’s no reason for rules and scripts. They’re a place to start from. Without a script or a guide, businesses (or lives for that matter) would have no structure. It’d be anarchy!

Breaking the script

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Yes, a script is good, but when actions become routine and words become rehearsed, both parties involved in a sales transaction are negatively impacted. Monotony is a killer, my friends. It’s a four-letter word that destroys success.

Back to our sandwich shop, they’ve probably got a script that goes like this:

  1. Welcome customer.
  2. Take customer’s order.
  3. Deliver sandwich.
  4. Thank customer. (Sometimes the script ends before this step…)

At what point in that transaction do they wow the customer? What remarkable thing does that sandwich craftsman do that guarantees (or strongly encourages) that customer to come back? What separates this sandwich shop from every other sandwich shop? What’s to stop me from saying I won’t ever go back there?

Maybe it’s when I, as a customer, start begging for an exception. Perhaps that would be the time to give in and say, “Ok ma’am, I can do that for you.” Honestly, as silly as it sounds, I’d feel like he took care of me. A simple sway from the script can make or break a customer’s experience.

Do you break the script in your service department?

What’s your service drive script? Does it look something like this?

  1. Welcome customer.
  2. Ask customer what service they need.
  3. Perform requested service (probably an oil change).
  4. Return car.

What remarkable thing does your service advisor do that guarantees (or strongly encourages) that customer to come back? What separates your dealership or shop from every single other place?

Aside from customer complaints or mistakes in the shop, which can easily be remedied with a little TLC and some darn good customer service, what can you do to break the script?

I will tell you.

Allow your service reps a little bit of freedom. For example, tell them they can give away 5 or so items each week to customers of their choosing. Don’t make it random though; one week it’s free oil changes, the next it’s free service upgrades, and so on.

Breaking the script with a surprise freebie will do wonders with your remarkability. Everybody loves free stuff, and a happy customer becomes a loyal customer. Plus, it will boost your service advisors’ morale, because frankly, making people happy makes people happy.

Be careful not to use the same freebie over and over. Remember, the element of surprise is what breaks the script. If you give the same upgrade every time, it becomes part of the script.

Try this out in your shop. Test the results and let me know how it goes. Then, maybe I’ll share your story!

For more information on breaking the script and improving customer experiences, check out “The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.