Improv for Customer Service

Improv for Customer Service

What do customers want from you?  When they have a complaint?  When they’re happy?  When they’re just “being?”

We were recently engaged to do a rather extensive customer service initiative.  The client contacted us because they were specifically interested in using improv to enhance their customer service.

Interestingly, I had a very odd customer service experience when I checked into a hotel near where I would be delivering the workshops.

I checked in, went up to my room, and realized that it was super noisy.  I could hear every footstep and every word from the room above me.
I was about to deliver 4 days of workshops, and I really wanted a quiet room.

I went back to the desk clerk and explained what was going on.  He disappeared into the back room for a minute, and then came out with a new room key for a top floor room.
I was unbelievably relieved!  I thanked him profusely and told him how much this meant to me.

As I began to thank him, he started talking over me, waving his hand, and saying “Hey, no big deal.  Not a problem.  No problem.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s nothing,” and so on.
As I went upstairs to my new room, I realized what an odd experience I’d just had.  On the one hand, my problem had been perfectly solved.  I now had a quiet room.  But something felt off.

I had not been “seen” by this clerk.  It seemed in retrospect, judging from my feeling about the interaction, I had wanted him to see and acknowledge my gratitude and relief.  As bizarre as it sounds, he had in essence solved my problem and blown me off! 

Back in my (quiet) room, I began to revise my upcoming workshops.

At its core, improv is a communication skill set about co-creating as equals.  There are many layers, of course, but that’s the essence.
My workshops revolved around using improv to practice connecting and seeing the other person, looking for the “yes” (see prior blogs), and then from that “yes” place, solving the problem.

What I added was to find the “yes” (place of connection) even when there’s no problem. 

All we really want is to be seen.  (and a quiet room…..)