Role play scenarios and a guide for their application

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Role playing is a great training technique for any workplace. It can help employees to engage with challenging situations that they might face in their organisation and gain confidence through practice. Understanding how businesses and teams can use role play to simulate situations can help you decide if it might be a useful technique to use in your place of work. In this article, we discuss what role play scenarios are, the types of situations in which they can be useful and look at 10 examples of role play scenarios.

Related: Customer service skills: examples, definition and how to demonstrate

What are role play scenarios and when can you use them?

Role play scenarios are training exercises that allow employees to rehearse their responses to difficult situations in a safe setting. One common application is to help employees prepare for challenging conversations with customers. Role play is a fantastic tool for improving customer service skills as it allows someone else to assume the role of the customer and perform the kinds of interactions that an employee might encounter.

To carry out a role play scenario, a senior employee of the firm you work for (e.g. manager, supervisor) or a learning and development representative could play the role of an unsatisfied customer. Your team members can think of responses to them and can receive feedback to help them improve their interactions. In this way, you can use role play in professional contexts to:

  • identify possible situations that could occur

  • find out how your colleagues would approach them

  • consider different solutions together

Related: 10 important customer service responsibilities (plus skills)

Customer role play scenario and scripts

Here are some possible role play scenarios and scripts:

Scenario 1: picking up the phone

It's important to make a positive first impression when you answer the phone. Establish a connection with the caller by introducing yourself with your name and the organisation that you work for. This adds personality to the communication. You can say something like:

'Hello, it's [your name] here from [business name]. What can I do to assist you today?'

Scenario 2: a customer is asking for a refund

When a customer is asking for a refund, consider the relevant policies and procedures of the company you work for. It's important to let the customer know that you care about their experience and would like to resolve their problem. You could say something like this:

'I'm very sorry to hear that you didn't find our product useful. We genuinely care about customer satisfaction and therefore I'm happy to submit a refund request for you. This can take up to seven working days to process, so I shall keep you informed about its status.'

Scenario 3: a customer has experienced a delay

If a customer has ordered a product online and it doesn't arrive by the expected delivery date, then they might request a refund. Even if the company you work for isn't responsible for the delayed delivery, you may still want to apologise and show that you're trying to resolve the situation. One option could be to offer them a discount or free shipping on their next order. You could respond like this:

'Please accept my sincere apologies; I understand that this delivery hasn't met your expectations. I assure you that we're doing everything possible to resolve this issue and I'd also like to offer you a 10 percent discount on your next purchase.'

Related: What is customer satisfaction?

Scenario 4: a customer has received a faulty product

If a customer receives a product in poor condition or with impaired functionality, then they're likely to request a replacement or a refund. They may also feel frustrated if they've been waiting for a long time for the product to arrive or have paid a premium price for it. In these situations, you may want to accept responsibility for the error and apologise for it. You could say:

'I'm very sorry to learn that the item you ordered arrived in poor condition. We take great care with our packaging, so I shall investigate this further to find out what happened. Would you like me to order a replacement for you?'

Scenario 5: a customer thinks that the price is too high

If a customer wants to buy a product but the price exceeds their budget, then they might ask for a discount. In this situation, you could try to justify the price by explaining the unique features and advantages of the product. Other options are to offer a free add-on, or discuss financing services, if these are available at the company you work for. Consider saying something like this:

'I realise that this car is more expensive than other models, but it's very robust and fuel-efficient and that's the reason for the price. If you consider the savings on fuel and maintenance over time, then these can offset the initial cost. But we can also provide you with zero percent financing for the next five years; would this interest you?'

Scenario 6: a product is unavailable

When a customer wants to purchase an item that's currently unavailable, they may ask you when it's expected to be back in stock. It's unnecessary to explain the reasons for the delay, but you might want to suggest some alternative products. You may wish to say something like this:

'This item is likely to be back in stock by next Tuesday. If you prefer, you can pre-order it so that it dispatches immediately after arriving at our warehouse. Meanwhile, you may be interested in a similar range, such as…'

Scenario 7: dealing with challenging customers

When customers feel frustrated, they can sometimes express their unhappiness in difficult ways. Encourage them to stay calm and courteous so that you can assist them. But, if customers use unacceptable language, you have every right to interrupt and ask them to change their behaviour. If the customer doesn't become more polite, you can end the call, walk away or have a third party remove the customer. Here's an example of what you could say:

'While I'd like to assist you, I may end this conversation if you continue to use offensive language. Do you understand?'

Related: 10 ways to consistently offer good customer service

Scenario 8: transferring the customer

If you're handling a challenging situation that is beyond your personal limits, then you might prefer to transfer the customer to a more experienced colleague. But before doing so, inform the customer of what you're doing, explain to your colleague why you're transferring the customer to them and check that this is okay. You could say to the customer:

'Please hold for a moment while I contact my colleague who specialises in this area; they recently dealt with a similar scenario. They shall speak with you shortly.'

Scenario 9: asking the customer to wait

Customers sometimes expect quick solutions to their problems. If you ask them to hold for a long time or suggest that they call back later, they might become impatient. In these situations, it's important to explain what you're doing and how long it might take. You could consider saying:

'Please accept my apologies for the delay. Is it okay to put you on hold for two minutes while I consult with my team?'

If you still need more time after two minutes has passed, explain this to the customer. For complex problems, you may wish to call the customer back after you've worked out what's wrong. You could say something like:

'Thank you for your patience. I apologise for keeping you waiting but I need another minute to resolve this. If it takes any longer than that, then I can arrange to call you back.'

Scenario 10: declining a customer's request

Sometimes customers like to suggest ways to improve products. While some feature requests are beneficial, others are less so. To prevent misleading them or appearing impolite, begin by thanking them for their ideas. You could agree to pass the information on to the development team and inform them of any changes. But if the recommended feature would be challenging to introduce, you may choose to apologise and explain the reasons why. You could say:

'I'm sorry, but our product can't resolve your issue. Could you please provide more information so that there are no misunderstandings? [Listen without interruption to the customer's problem.] According to my expertise, [the requested feature] may be impractical due to [explain why].'

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