Do a Scriptease

The weather is finally getting warmer. It’s the perfect time of year to experiment going script-less. Observe:

Here’s a real conversation my dear friend David Burk had with a Zappos customer service agent, Ian H, because David’s shoes were shipped to the wrong address and signed for by “Customer lady.”

Ian H.: I understand. We are not supposed to be responsible for items shipped to the wrong address, but since I see that you are a loyal VIP customer, I will make an exception and send you a replacement item.
David: that is wonderful. do you know when we can expect the package?
Ian H.: After that, I will place an investigation with UPS to see what happened to the other shoe. “Customer lady” might not even know it is not intended for her.
David: Maybe we should start a tv show about customer lady…
Ian H.: I am interested in the adventures of customer lady as well!
David: I just want to say that I picture customer lady in a housecoat. She is not the future. Then again, customer lady might be a secret shopper. I will stop dissing her.
Ian H.: Customer Lady is a spy! Don’t fall for her wiles!
David: Egads! Thanks for the heads-up!
Ian H.: I placed the new order for you already. Since we just transferred your funds over from your first order to cover the cost of this new order, you will not be charged again.

Here’s what’s exciting to me about this exchange (aside from imagining Customer Lady’s backstory): It is unscripted. It is human. And it is delightful.

It made David and Ian H’s day. After reading this, I wish I had sent my shoes to the wrong address.

Ian H turned a moment of frustration into an experience of connection because he solved David’s problem and was willing to play along and turn the conversation into an adventure. Zappos didn’t have to teach him to be witty; they just trusted him to listen, be himself, and go script-less.

By the way “no script” doesn’t mean “no process.” Processes are wonderful. Ian H obviously had a clear one (he knew exactly what steps to take to solve David’s problem). We humans appreciate efficiency, but we also crave connection, authenticity, and (of course) surprise.

What in your business or everyday life is scripted that doesn’t need to be? Where can you do a tantalizing scriptease? Do you always pick up the phone in the same way? End your email in the same way? Answer questions as though you’ve swallowed a tape-player? See how your interactions with others change when you go script-less. And please tell us how it goes!



  1. catbee

    i 100% appreciate off-script interactions with customer service agents. t-mobile was so consistently on-script that you wanted to tear your hair out. especially the scripted sympathy. totally irritating.

  2. mossum

    THIS is exactly why I prefer to fly Southwest over any other airline. What’s more ignorable than the pre-flight safety lecture? But I’ve been on SWA flights where they rapped it, sang it as an opera, or mixed it 50/50 with sarcasm, puns and double entendres. They don’t take themselves too seriously. In spite of being as well trained as (I assume) any other flight crew, they all know how to hold the attention of bored travelers by using surprise and being fun!

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