thinking like a customer

thinking like a customer

Improv for Customers

By on August 8, 2012

Improvisational comedy can help you discover new ways to relate to your customers. I recently took a “class” at a local improv club, Village Idiots, that taught presenters how to connect with their audiences. A lot of the techniques are practical ways for organizations to improve the way they connect with their customers.

Consider these examples:

  • Customers will match your energy. You want the audience to be ready to interrupt you because they are so engaged. The audience wants to watch a person who is more emotional than they are. Create shared energy.
  • Be creative. Employees in Customer 3D organizations believe (just as improv performers) that if they don't have something different to give to their customers (or the audience for the improv show), then they are wasting the audience’s time.
  • Add to what you are currently doing for customers by positively reacting to those customers. This approach has been called the “yes…and” process, which keeps the flow of creativity going, rather than the restrictive “yes…but” system. The secret of performance success is the value shift to caring about your audience and the relationship rather than the sale.
  • Be smart, but be adaptable to real situations that customers present to you. Real experiences are critical. As Tina Fey has said, “When hiring, mix Harvard Nerds with Chicago Improvisers and stir. Harvard Is Classical Military Theory, Improv Is Vietnam.”
  • You get better with practice. Veteran performers learn what the strong choices vs. the weak choices are. They also learn from the audience reaction what the exceptional and brilliant choices are.
  • Tapping into your passion creates your authenticity. Get the audience to catch the fire you have.

Improv performers know how to break down the wall between themselves and the audience and so do highly customer-centered organizations. The lessons of improv comedy for businesses are to allow freedom to explore new areas that will make the connection with customers (or the audience).  Instead of being restricted by what you perceive as rules, be open to where your customers want you to go. Be natural, but with a sense of play. Enjoy the freedom to say “yes…and” if the results are better for the customer.


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