Are you a problem solver or a problem to work with? A good voice talent is a problem solver. Recently, I had an experience that showed the right and wrong way to solve a customer’s dilemma. If you want to help, learn what is needed and find a way to solve your client’s problem and not create a no-win situation.
Not long ago, I went to a local chain store looking for house candles. The day’s Weather Reports called for heavy rain and possible widespread power outages. So, I thought it was an excellent time to get some old-school candles in case the lights went out in my home. You see, I lost power for seven hours a few weeks ago. Therefore, preparing for a potential power loss seemed like a good idea.
So, in my efforts to be proactive, I visited a famous store that sold household and grocery items. Unable to find what I needed on my own, I asked a pinafore-clad employee for help. The employee returned a puzzled look in response to my question about the location of household candles. She then made an “educated guess” on where my requested items may be. My other opinion was to ask a different store worker for help. So, I asked another employee. She, too, could not help and admitted the store only carried decorative candles. But I was looking for utility or white candles, usually unscented. Either way, my problem went unsolved.
“If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”
― Isaac Asimov
But then, I started to rethink my problem. What I really needed was a source of light that did not need an external power source. Then, ‘Bingo.’ I went to the camping supply section and found small lanterns and lights that use batteries. I had solved my problem.
After this incident, I thought about the service I received from the store employees. None of the people I interacted with asked me more questions to understand my problem or provided me with options. They just wanted to get back to stocking the shelves. The employees are still probably restocking stocking shelves.
Take Note for Change
For the voice actor, we should never approach a potential client with an indifferent attitude. When we fail to understand a potential client’s needs or audition specs, we don’t address the problem. Voice talent do more than “stock virtual shelves.” We bring words to life through our unique script interpretation and give messages meaning. It’s a talent’s job not just to provide a product but to solve a problem.
Steps to Being Indispensable
There are many people in and out of the voiceover business daily. Many become discouraged by the changes threatened by technology. But, the focus of every voice actor business should be to solve the client’s problem. Solving problems can be done in four simple steps:
Listen or read to understand the problem or request
Make sure you know why there is a problem
Get or find the right tools, skills, and resources
Make sure you present a final solution (product) and if possible, beyond what is needed
And of course, whenever you have a deadline, you want to be early with your project. If you make it a point to understand the client and uniquely solve the problem, the client usually will seek you out for future help.
To end, always be available to supply a unique experience that will leave your clients impressed and looking to you to solve their VO project problems. That’s how you #breakalip.