One of the basics of acting taught to me in grade school was the important principle of "staying in character." Staying in character means holding the image and personality of the character you are assigned to portray without letting your own personality leak through.
Applying the principle in school, I would lock my legs stiffly and allow my arms and hands to flex gently as if they were in a flowing breeze. It was not easy for me as a third grader to stay in character as a tree.
My professional acting career still lies dormant, but the concept of being in character is wide-awake. I heard a story last week about a small business that makes a point of having its employees remain in character at all times during the work day. No, I'm not talking about Disney World. I'm talking about a dentist's office in the UK. The owner is so adamant about the professional staff acting in the best interest of the practice when dealing with the patients (customers), that a sign is installed on the employee lounge door that says " BackStage". The backstage sign makes the important point that the rest of the office space requires an onstage performance for all on the team.
The help wanted advertisements never have the following wording included in the job description; "Acting Experience, a plus". Employers should include the phrase.
Wouldn't it be nice if other businesses would enforce the onstage performance of their employees?
? Grocery store cash register operators would end their cross- chatter with each other, act in a friendly way and would acknowledge the customers' existence.
? Receptionists would present an image of helpfulness and appreciation for customers as they enter and exit the office.
? Retail clerks would joyfully point out where items are on the shelves.
? Professionals would acknowledge that they are running behind on appointments and apologize for the inconvenience.
? Staff would notice when customers, even those not within their assigned area, are not getting the proper attention they deserve and would ask on their own if they could be of help.
Businesses that have a written plan and policy for maintaining a professional level of service always are the most impressive. They are impressive because the standard of service against which they compete is so unprofessional. It's not hard to distinguish yourself from the rest of the group when your business stays in character.
Is your business or organization in character for customer service or just playing out its own melodrama?
Doug Emerson trains consults and coaches business owners on how to make more profit in less time using 8 key strategies. He writes a free electronic newsletter about the business of life called Getting to the Point. Free subscription available at the homepage. http://www.douglasemerson.com