I recently watched a terrific video interview with Tony Hsieh on Meet the Boss TV about Zappos and his business philosophy. You don’t get to work for Zappos unless you are passionate about customer service. It’s core to the company’s culture and "culture fit" according to Hsieh is the key to hiring the right employees. He said that they “hire for attitude” because it’s “pretty hard to train a good attitude if you don’t (have one).” How true!
Culture fit is really important to me. I want to feel that work is fun (It’s OK that it’s also hard and may require long hours; that comes with the territory). Happily, I’m surrounded with like-minded people with similar values. What’s more, I’ve found (and I think Tony Hsieh would agree) that a company’s culture nurtures and helps good attitudes grow and get stronger. I see it all the time with the people I work with.
For example, I’d rather tape a real customer service rep with a great attitude than use an actor. Why? Because in this case, I think attitude trumps training.
Now, before all of SAG, AFTRA and non-union voice talent that I’ve worked with over the years rains down their collective wrath on me let me share that I’ve always had a passion for the behind the scenes world of audio/visual production. Early in my career I spent hours in Chicago recording studios coaxing the “perfect read” from actors. It was my job to get some very talented professionals, who made significant bucks using their voices commercially, to sound like real customer service, tech support or sales reps. The Pro’s always delivered. Not only did they sound great but also actors like Tom Amandes (long before he was Dr. Harold Abbott on "Everwood") could interpret a script with little input, could adjust the “read” on a dime and generally make me feel like my direction was brilliant. (I especially liked that part.)
We use a lot of recorded samples in our training. Examples of “what not to say” often stimulate groans of recognition and spark good discussions. In our coaching programs, managers practice monitoring calls and delivering feedback. After each call we ask the managers what they thought of the call. Invariably after one particular sample call a manager will blurt out, “How do we clone her? I want her on our team.”
This reaction never ceases to make me beam because the voice talent in this case isn’t a card carrying professional, she’s our client services manager — an Impact employee walking the walk and showing off her great attitude.