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How is Your Call Center Service Scenography?

Flying from L.A. to Charlotte, I learned my seatmate was the renowned storyboard artist Tom Cranham. Tom’s role as an illustrator was to read a screenplay, review photos of the planned movie set, and then illustrate the movie in cartoon-like style with a new drawing at each point the camera shot changed. The illustrator for such movies as Jurassic Park, The River Wild, and True Lies, he was en route to Wilmington, North Carolina to work with director Stephen King to shoot the horror movie Maximum Overdrive.

 “Once I am on location,” the passionate artist explained, “I will make adjustments based both on Stephen’s review of my original drawings and what I learn about how the movie set actually looks.” He leafed through a large drawing pad showing a collection of pictures. Some had the script or notes from the screenplay penciled at the bottom. “Once completed,” he continued, “we make copies so everyone on the set—director, camera crew, sound technicians, and actors—can share the same vision.  We want the mind’s eye view of the ultimate movie-goer’s experience to be the same in everyone’s head.”

Scenography, the technical name for the work of the storyboard artist (or illustrator), originated in ancient Greece. Artists painted on stones colorful stage scenes for a theatrical production. The concept is the integration all the sensory elements of a service experience around a compelling service story or vision. The very best service providers in the world use scenography to craft a powerful experience for their customers.  We humans favor symmetry and balance.  Our psyche reads dissonance in an experience long before our logical mind comprehends a rationale.  Far more than the urge to level a crooked picture or the recognition that something is a bit off in a melody we hear, the dissonance even reaches to ideas out of alignment with our beliefs. 

So, what is your call center scenography?  When customers hear, “Your call is very important to us,” but then experience a long wait, it is dissonant.  When the style of the call center operator fails to match what was promised on the website or in ads, it is dissonant.  You expect the Ritz-Carlton Hotel call center to sound classy; the Disney World call center to sound noticeably happy.  Amazon and Zappos’ 24/7 access makes customers wince at the idea of a contact center ever being inaccessible.  

Calls that feel rushed signal greater interest in cost reduction (aka, handle time) than in a quality experience for the caller.  Hearing other operators in the background can convey to customers you are not respectful of their privacy. Complex channel negotiation telegraphs: you built it for your convenience, not for your customers’ ease.

Scenography is the craft of making every component in the service experience “fit” with the promise made, or implied, to customers.  Conduct a service scenography audit of your call center with input from your customers and your employees.  Then, go to work making every component fit so that every contact delights.

Join Chip Bell in Chicago for ICMI Contact Center Demo and Conference.  He'll be a keynote speaker.

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