A Marks & Spencer store in Cardiff has successfully used role play to reduce staff absence on its customer service desk.
The programme used local actors to play the roles of difficult customers.
A psychologist recorded the conversations with staff and then reviewed the results. Employees then had a one-hour discussion group to explore ways of dealing with difficult customers.
After the sessions, sickness absence plummeted from 11 per cent to 4 per cent and customer service quality also improved.
Dr Orton said, “Staff had become demotivated because the management constantly overruled them, even when customers had unreasonable requests. They developed the communication skills necessary to deal with both customers and management.”