Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Marketing expert Seth Godin has an excellent post up right now, examining his recent stay at a Westin Hotel and the infuriating nature of the "scripts" employees are required to follow when interacting with a customer. The post reminds me of something I think about a lot, which is the sad, depressing experience I always have whenever I eat at a fast-food restaurant, and how this directly relates to the script their employees are required to follow. You know what I'm talking about, right? There you are in line, and your teller is just finishing up interacting with one of her co-workers, laughing at a small joke or whatever, acting just like a human would normally act around another human. But then the teller gets done, turns to you, and immediately gets this blank, zombie-like pall on her face, as she mechanically drones to you in a monotone voice:


This happens almost every single time I eat at a fast-food place, and it's just so damn depressing; it's an immediate, unavoidable reminder not only of how little these companies care about their employees, not only how much these employees hate their jobs, but also how guilty I should feel for eating at a fast-food place to begin with. And I've always found it ironic that I would get such a sad, depressing feeling from something that was originally designed to be friendly and encouraging. I mean, seriously, has any customer in the history of time ever felt genuinely appreciated by a company, after receiving one of these automated, zombie-like script deliveries from one of their employees? Sadly, it's always going to be this way, as long as the rift continues between those who write the scripts (i.e. a bunch of middle-class, suburban white guys sitting around an office) and those who have to actually deliver them (i.e. the underpaid, overworked slave labor otherwise known as the service industry). And even more sadly, there's absolutely no chance of this rift actually being closed, meaning that employee scripts are always going to remain the sad, depressing experiences they currently are. I wish more companies would take the time to think about this subject, and how their supposedly warm and friendly employee scripts are in actuality having the exact opposite effect on customers than was intended.

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