Scripted service It has been two years since you took over your family’s chain of specialty neighbourhood bakeries located in areas with high foot traffic. Throughout the city, your stores are the choice for birthday cakes, Christmas cakes, Danish pastries and muffins for breakfast, and slices and cupcakes for morning tea. 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 per cent 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 server, 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 staff serve customers efficiently, they do so in various ways. Some staff are outgoing, talking and laughing with the customer while assembling the order. Other staff 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 supermarket (‘Do you have fly buys?” and ‘cash or card?”) to the fast-food restaurant (Do you want fries with that?” and ‘to have here or take away?”), the patterns are most noticeable during busy periods. Sales staff 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 “Mayl help you, ma’am?’ instead of ‘Can l help someone?” At one restaurant chain, 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 five 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. nsead of “Can I h 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 standardised, 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 staff; 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 for many years and know the ropes already. How would your customers respond? The bakery could lose some of its neighbourly appeal when customers recognise the scripted speech. You hear the barista call out, Triple-shot extra-hot latte, so you go collect your coffee She looks you right in the eye, smiles and says, “Have a nice day!