If you play sports, your team will have practices and scrimmage upcoming opponents. If you have a role in a musical, your cast will hold rehearsals to get ready for the big show. And, if you're on a customer service team, your colleagues and manager will conduct role playing exercises to prepare you for potential questions that customers will ask.

Role playing is one of the most fundamental customer service training exercises. It simulates real conversations that service reps have with customers and it teaches them how to respond to different customer behaviors. When you're just starting out in customer service, these exercises are great for getting you comfortable with speaking with customers and communicating troubleshooting steps over a real-time channel.

In this post, we'll list a few of the most common role play scenarios to review with your service team alongside some example role play scripts that your reps can practice with. But, before we dive into that, let's look at how you should conduct customer service role play at your business and why it's useful for a customer service team.

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What's Customer Service Role Play?

When training service reps, businesses will conduct customer service role play to prepare reps for potential conversations that they'll have with customers. This not only familiarizes them with common problems and questions that customers will have, but it also teaches them how to navigate situations when they don't know how to respond — just like in the example below.

Customer-service-role-play

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Using this flowchart, reps know how to react to every potential response that a customer might give. When conducting a role play exercise, two reps might walk through each one of these potential situations together, with one rep pretending to be the "customer" and the other responding based what the "customer" says. That way, reps can practice what they'll say to customers before they actually interact with one.

Now that you know what customer service role play is, let's look at a few example scenarios in the next section.

1. The customer calls, emails, or messages, your service team.

Customer interactions have to begin somewhere. And, whether you realize it or not, these first moments have a major impact on the customer experience. The better your introduction is, the smoother the conversation will go.

Think about it. If you call a customer support team and the rep picks up and says, "Ya?" you might think you dialed the wrong number. At the very least, this rep sounds uninterested in the conversation which sets the tone for the rest of the interaction.

Conversely, if the rep picks up the phone and says, "Hi this is Clint from HubSpot Support, with whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?" this signals to the customer that they've contacted the right place for help and I'm ready to provide dedicated support.

It's also important to share your name with the customer and ask for their name as well. This immediately establishes a relationship with them and humanizes both sides of the conversation. You're no longer speaking to a stranger now that you know each other by name.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "Hello?"

Support Rep: "Hi, this is (your name) from (company name). Before we get started, who do I have the pleasure of working with today?

2. The customer asks a common service question.

These interactions will likely make up the bulk of your workload. These are questions that your team has been asked countless times before and their solutions are well-documented in your knowledge base or help desk.

That being said, it's essential to keep in mind that the customer doesn't know  — or care  — that their question is common or routine. To them, all of their inquiries are equally important and should be treated with the same care and urgency as any other problem. If they feel like you're going through the motions or trying to quickly close their case, customers won't be delighted with their experience and may push for more information.

In customer support, it's better to provide a detailed response and walk the customer through a solution rather than assuming that they understand your explanation. If possible, link the customer to a relevant knowledge base article and go through troubleshooting steps together until a solution is reached. That way, the customer can ask you questions along the way, rather than creating a new support ticket every time they get stuck.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "How do I install this product?"

Support Rep: "I'd be happy to help you install that product. But first, let me share this knowledge base article that can guide us through the installation process. I'll walk us through  this doc step-by-step so you can ask me any questions that you have along the way."

3. The customer shares negative feedback about your product or brand.

When you work in customer service, there's going to be times when customers share negative feedback about your brand. As a service professional, your job is to align yourself with the customer, whether you agree with their opinion or not. Your goal is to make them feel justified, while still protecting your brand's image.

To do that, you'll need to accept at least some of the responsibility for the customer's problem. Even if you think the issue is inconsequential, this comes with the territory of working in customer service. If a customer is upset, the last thing they want to hear is that they're wrong or that their feelings aren't justified.

You should also avoid over-apologizing. When you offer an apology, you admit that a problem exists. Sometimes this is necessary. Other times, you can align yourself with the customer's position without having to offer an apology  — like in the example below.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "Your product is terrible. It's overpriced and it doesn't turn on every time I use it."

Support Rep: "Thank you for this feedback. I understand how frustrating it can be to spend a lot of money on a product that doesn't work consistently. The behavior you're describing does sound unusual for that product, so if it's okay with you, I'd like to walk us through some troubleshooting steps to see if we can diagnose the problem. My gut tells me it's something we can fix, but if not, I'd be happy to offer another long-term solution."

4. The customer requests a product, feature, or service that you don't have.

If you're a SaaS company, feature requests happen all the time in customer service. Customers need your product to do something it can't, and as they keep running into dead ends, they eventually turn to your service team for help.

Sometimes you can ungate them for a beta product or feature. This is great because the customer not only gets a solution to their problem, but they feel like they're getting special treatment from your brand as well.

Other times, you don't have a beta feature ready to solve the customer's problem. In these cases, you either need to come up with a creative solution or explain why your product or service doesn't work in the way that your customer expected.

Remember, no single product can do everything, and sometimes it's better to explain why a customer shouldn't do something with your product rather than encouraging them to fit a square peg into a round hole. While they may get the immediate satisfaction they're looking for, when you push products to do things they're not designed for, sometimes this can lead to severe complications down the road.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "What do you mean your product doesn't do this? Why did I buy a boat if I can't drive it on land?"

Support Rep: "I hear you. I think it would be great if our boats could be driven on land as well as water. While we could outfit your boat with customized features that would allow you to convert it to a land vehicle, this, however, would come with additional costs and could jeopardize the integrity of your boat's hull. In my experience, I'd recommend against this upgrade since our boats really perform their best in the water and this customization may end up costing you more in the future."

Customer: "I see. Well, what am I supposed to do now? I still need to move my boat out of the lake."

Support Rep: "Understood. Where are you moving your boat to? While it's not my expertise, I'd be happy to research some towing options in your area and can share what I find."

5. The customer asks a question or has a problem that you don't have a solution for.

Some customers will ask you questions that you either haven't answered before or you know don't have a solution. For these cases, you need to come up with an explanation as to why you don't have an immediate answer and what you can do for the customer instead.

If it's a question that you haven't been asked before, then your first move should be to look for a known solution. If you're on the phone or working with the customer in person, then you'll need to buy some time by either putting the customer on hold or asking them to wait a moment while you research independently. Be sure to ask the customer for permission before putting them on hold because some customers will prefer to remain on the line while you're working on their problem.

Once you troubleshoot for about five minutes, if you still don't have a solution you should always ask to follow up with the customer. This shows them that you're dedicated to solving their problem and are willing to dig deeper to find a solution. Even if you come up empty-handed, customers will still appreciate the extra effort you put into their case.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "How come every time I use your app, my phone shuts down after a few minutes?"

Support Rep: "Good question. Since there could be a few things causing that behavior, do you mind if I put you on a brief hold to look into this with my team?"

Customer: "Sure."

Support Rep: "Great. One moment."

Support Rep: "Okay, I've run a few tests on my end and I haven't been able to replicate the issue. I want to mindful of your time, though, so rather than keeping you on the line while I troubleshoot this, would you mind if I followed up with you via email and I can let you know just as soon as I find a solution?"

6. The customer purchases a faulty or incorrect product.

When a customer purchases a faulty or incorrect product, most times they'll ask for a refund or product exchange. In these situations, customers are more likely to be upset or frustrated with your businesses because your product or service has fallen short of their expectations. As a customer service rep, your job is to curb this frustration by assuring customers that your brand is still capable of meeting their needs.

This is one scenario where an apology is typically appropriate. There aren't many excuses you can make for delivering a broken or incorrect product, and if you want to salvage the customer relationship, it's better to apologize and admit your mistake.

This is your time to shine as a customer service rep because your response will influence customer churn. If you make the customer feel like this is a one-time mistake, then they'll be more likely to stick with your business moving forward. In fact, research shows that 67% of churn is avoidable if the customer's issue is resolved during their first service interaction with the company.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "Hi, I received this product yesterday, but when I opened it, it had a huge crack down the center of it. What are you going to do about this?"

Support Rep: "I am so sorry to hear that. My apologies that your product didn't arrive as expected. I'd be happy to take care of this for you. Would you like me to ship a new one right now, or would you like to begin a refund instead?"

7. The customer needs to be transferred to another rep.

Depending on how your service team operates, you may have to transfer customers to different employees at your organization. In which case, it's important to know how to hand off these conversations in a smooth and seamless way.

For starters, you should tell customers why you need to transfer them. Remember, some people don't like being put on hold and they may ask why you can't solve the problem for them instead. In these situations, you should explain why your teammate is best suited to resolve their issue and what they'll do for them that you can't. While you don't want it to look like you're passing the buck, you should make it clear that your colleague is the best resource for finding a solution.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "Hi, I was just on the phone with someone but the call was dropped. Can you help me with what we were working on?"

Support Rep: "I'd be more than happy to help. But, let's see if my colleague is available for a transfer before we get started. Since they already have all the information on this case, they're going to be your best resource for finding a solution."

Customer: "Well, why can't you help me?"

Support Rep: "I'd be happy to help if my colleague is unavailable. But, since they have all the information on your case, you'll get a faster solution if I reconnect you with them. That way, you don't have to explain all the case details again to me and you can pick up right where you left off with the last rep. "

8. The customer wants to speak to a manager.

No matter how great of a customer service rep you are, you will eventually come across someone who will demand to speak with your manager. It may not even be your fault, either. In fact, when it happened to me, the customer didn't even let me introduce myself before they asked to speak with my manager.

The point is, don't take it personally. Just because someone asks to speak with your manager doesn't necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Some people think that by speaking with management, they'll receive faster solutions and special treatment from your business.

If a customer does ask to speak with your manager, remain calm, and follow your company's protocol. If your policy is to transfer them, follow the steps laid out in the previous section. If your support team doesn't transfer calls to management, then use the script below as a guideline.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "This is unacceptable. I'd like to speak to your manager."

Support Rep: "Of course. I'd be happy to connect you with a manager. However, with the way our team operates there isn't a manager available now to take your call. I can definitely reach out to my manager and set up a meeting, but it may take some time before I can connect you. In the meantime, I'd be happy to work with you on this issue and update my manager with the progress we make."

9. The customer is delighted with their brand experience.

Not every service case involves an angry customer. The best ones are when you're working with someone who's passionate about your product and is excited to learn more about your company. These interactions typically lead to high Net Promoter Scores

 and positive customer feedback.

When a customer does have good things to say about you or your business, don't just sit back and take the compliment. This is an opportunity to really connect with them and generate customer loyalty for your brand.

One way you can do this is by encouraging people to share their feedback with others or leave a review after you close their service case. When I worked for HubSpot Customer Support, I would always remind customers that we have a feedback survey that's triggered after every service interaction. That way, customers had a way to share their positive feedback with me — and my manager.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "Wow! Thank you so much. You've been a great help today."

Support Rep: "Glad to hear it. And, if you'd like, please feel welcome to share that feedback via our survey triggered at the end of each (case/call). We would really appreciate it."

10. The customer asks you to bend company policy.

You may come across someone who takes the term, "the customer is always right" a little too seriously. While there are rare cases where it makes sense to bend the rules, your company has protocols for a reason and you should always adhere to them even when a customer is asking you not to.

If you're constantly dealing with people who are asking you to break company policy, then you may want to point out this trend to your manager. After all, while you should always adhere to company protocol, your company's procedures shouldn't inconvenience your customers. At the very least, find out why your company has this policy in place so you can share that information with your customers.

Customer Service Role Play Script

Customer: "I just need you to tell me my account number and password. I don't care what your company policy says. I'm in a hurry."

Support Rep: "I understand your frustation and I want to get you that information as quickly as possible, but unfortunately, I can't provide you with an account number or password at this time. While I certainly trust you are who you say you are, this policy is in place for the security of all our customers and without going through the required idenfication process, it would put your account at risk."

For more training exercises, check out these free customer service training materials

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Originally published Jan 21, 2021 8:00:00 AM, updated June 15 2021

Topics:

Customer Experience Support Ticket System