You don't have to be in Hollywood to need a script

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Special Events editor Lisa Hurley shares the importance of making sure that front-line employees know what to say to clients.

You don’t have to be in Hollywood to need a script. In fact, all businesses that deal with clients need a script for their employees. So if you have clients, and I hope you do, this means you.

I had one of those "As a client, I am going to fire this business and find someone else to patronize" moments yesterday. (The name of the business will be omitted to protect the guilty.) I have gone to this business on a regular basis for years.

I was trying to fill out the required paperwork, working with a receptionist who apparently was so engrossed with her computer screen that she could not take 5 seconds to look up and acknowledge that I was in front of her. When I raised a question about one form, she told me, "Well, you're going to have to …."

Nope, clients do not have to do anything. Clients are why we are in business.

Clients are not always right, of course. They may need to be given more information or directed to another resource within the business or asked for contact details so the business can find the correct answer to their problem and respond at a later date.

And of course, sometimes clients can be jerks.

But regardless of what category—uninformed, misinformed or jerk—the client falls into, the employee dealing with the client ("client-facing," as my company likes to say) has to respond in a professional manner that makes the client feel valued. If your employees do otherwise, you may lose the client—and you as the owner will never know why.

This usually means that unless your employees are especially sensitive and graceful in dealing with people, you will need to give them a script. The phrases "you are going to have to" must be replaced with "let me get that information to you" and the like.

Call your business and see how the phone is answered. If you can, go incognito (or get a friend to do some reconnaissance for you) and see how check-in staff at the event talk to arriving guests.

Yes, this is one thing you're going to have to do.

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