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Saying 'yes and...'

The scene opens. A customer is standing in line waiting for the bank teller. The teller motions to the customer to move forward. The customer asks to make a deposit in their account. The teller says no. The scene ends.

Julian Faid from Edmonton’s Rapid Fire Theatre has some thoughts on how that scene could have gone better. It all begins with the basic principle behind improv theatre. Saying “yes, and…”

“The main thing about improv is saying yes and... Not just accepting an offer but also trying to build on that offer,” Faid explained. “That’s what kind of moves the action forward. As you can imagine, as soon as someone says no things tend to stop.”

Faid and the rest of the team at Rapid Fire Theatre—who are partnering with ATB for an online improv activation on Wednesday, August 21—offer a number of workshops including corporate workshops on how improv can relate to customer service. There are striking similarities.

Active listening, collaboration, acceptance and positivity all make sense as rules for improv and customer service.

“If I’m at a bank standing there and the teller says we don’t have any money left. That’s kind of a no. It’s a bit of a stop of the action. But in reality it suddenly gives so much substance to the actual scene itself,” said Faid.

Faid believes it’s in those bad moments, by using the rules of improve, businesses can turn a negative customer experience into a positive one and create a really great story.

“Those are the kinds of things in customer service that can go a long way. Saying yes, this person had an issue and here’s what I’m going to do about it and here’s the sort of above and beyond thing I’m going to do about it that the customer might not expect.”​

Faid and the Rapid Fire Theatre troupe will be putting these improv tenets on display online Wednesday, August 21 on ATB Financial’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. Send us your suggestions, a scenario, a type of food, or the name of your first pet goldfish or send us your playwriting genius using #ATBImprov and watch how "yes, and..." will bring your brainchild to life.
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