Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Customer service....

I recently had an incredibly annoying experience at Ryman : I saw some of my favourite pens in a little bin with a ‘3 for 2 offer’ sign below it. I grabbed a fistful. But when I got to the counter, the cashier said, ‘Oh, those aren’t on offer. The pens in the bin next to it are.’ When I said that was a bit misleading, he said, ‘You’re not the first customer to mention that.’ 

Call me old-fashioned, but if more than one customer says they’re confused as to what is actually on offer, isn’t that nature’s way of telling you that you need to rethink how you display your promotions? Wouldn’t that be good customer service?

Anyway, when I was done fuming, I started thinking about customer service in my own industry. How does an audio book narrator provide good customer service? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read the book. 

This may sound obvious, but you may be surprised to know that some people don’t. No matter how fluent you are, a book will sound better if you’ve read it beforehand. And speaking of fluency... 

2. Work on your fluency.

Studio time is money. Editing time is money. The more fluent you are, the easier it is on your producer, the engineer, the editor – and, ultimately, your client-publisher. Practice. Concentrate.

3. Make a cast list

Keep track of your characters, with notes detailed enough for you to know exactly what voice you’re using for that character. A character who appears on page 22 may not appear again until page 200. Don’t make your producer and engineer scrabble through the previous day’s recording to see what s/he sounded like.

4. Look up pronunciations

A good producer will do this for you, but don’t rely on that. Do your own research. There are loads of dictionaries online to help. Is it a word or place name you can’t find in the dictionary? Go to YouTube and see if you can find a clip of someone saying it. Is it a company name? Call them and see how they answer the phone. Be creative! 

5. Look after yourself

Simple, really. Get enough sleep. Don’t go out on the lash the night before a record. Don’t scream your lungs out at concert or sports event. Eat a good breakfast.

6. Take criticism

In studio, if your producer makes a suggestion, do it with good grace. It’s not personal. You’re both trying to make the recording the best it can be. If you disagree, make your argument in a friendly way. (I’m really bad at this one! :oD)

7. Don’t get mad at yourself

If you make a mistake, just stop and pick it up again. Don’t have a tantrum - it’s very stressful for your producer and engineer.

Those are my top tips – what are yours?

Photos by: and ChrisDlugosz


  1. This is a great list of suggestions! As a fellow audio book narrator, I recently blogged about narration tips and they were virtually the same as yours. Well done!

  2. Thanks for your kind comments, Tom! Please post a link to your blog - I'd love to read it!

  3. Lots of useful info here, thank you.
    Northern Irish voice