Your customer service team is made up of a variety of humans, each with different levels of knowledge. That comes with risk. Someone who is new or unfamiliar with a certain issue could say the wrong thing and fail to provide the solution a customer needs.
For that reason, many organizations employ scripts within their contact center. A call center script clearly lays out what a contact center agent is supposed to say in response to a specific problem. Companies use them in the hopes of realizing a few key benefits:
- A shortcut to help an agent find and provide the right answer during a customer interaction, boosting resolution time and productivity.
- A way to ensure each customer service representative provides the same answer to a problem, creating a consistent customer experience.
- A failsafe to keep agents from going rogue on difficult calls and saying something inaccurate, or worse, inappropriate.
If you provide each customer service rep with the exact words to say, surely you don’t have to worry about them ever getting a call wrong. Right?
Well, it’s more complicated than that.
The risks of call center scripts
While call center scripts can serve these purposes, they also present a couple of issues that can lead to a bad customer experience and a bad reputation for your call center.
1. Agent scripting that sounds robotic
We live in the age of self service. 81% of customers try to find an answer to their problems before they take the step of calling you. By the time they pick up the phone, they want a human’s help. If what they get it someone reading off the same answer they could have found online, they won’t feel you’re treating them like a human with a unique issue.
And customers can tell when a customer service agent isn’t using their own words. 78% say their experience is better when they can tell the rep isn’t reading from a script.
2. A script that doesn’t solve the customer’s problem
A call center script is meant to make sure every agent provides the right answer to the problem, but sometimes problems are too complicated to be covered by a script. And contact center agents still risk pulling up the wrong script based on insufficient information, providing a solution to an entirely different problem. Few things are as frustrating as talking to someone convinced they’ve solved your problem who has actually gotten it wrong.
Call center script best practices
As with any tool, the effectiveness of using scripts in a call center is all about how you use them. You can use call scripts as a way to empower your reps and allow them to act as advisors to your customers.
In theater, a “script” is usually something you memorize and recite word for word. But customer service calls aren’t Shakespeare. If you’re hiring awesome reps, then focus on giving them the tools they need to do a good job and then trust them to create a great customer experience.
Prioritize agent training—and make call center scripts a part of it
Call center scripts can be a useful part of training new customer service representatives, but they shouldn’t be used as a replacement for it. Use the scripts you have to provide a helpful suggestion of what agents should say when faced with a particular problem. And supplement that information with soft skills training on how to effectively interact with customers on calls, as well as on live chat.
Train your agents to treat scripts as something they can consult for guidance, but not something they should read word for word. Over time, they’ll have an easier time knowing what to say with just a quick glance or skim, and can do so in a way that feels more natural and human. A customer interaction with a call center is much more welcoming when it feels like a natural conversation.
Turn your call center “scripts” into knowledge resources that are easy for reps to quickly access
A script doesn’t have to be a list of lines to say. If you have call center scripts in that format now, you can repurpose them into formats and channels that make the most important information more accessible to your customer service representatives.
Use scripting to build out your internal knowledge base, and make it searchable so that agents can more easily find the relevant answer to every question they encounter. You can also break each part of a script down into macros, and tag and categorize answers so that they’re easy for a call center agent to pull up at a moment’s notice, right when they need it.
Your agents shouldn’t have to read 500 words in script form to get to the information they need, all while the customer waits on the line. You can use customer service technology to make sure all your resources are well organized and formatted, so it’s easy for reps to find the right information quickly.
Train representatives to make customer experience their top priority
Where using call center scripts gets tricky is when customer service agents think they have to prioritize following the script over providing the best customer experience. Make sure your agent training and internal processes for your call center makes it very clear that is not the case.
Make sure your call center scripts are accurate
The whole point of scripting is to improve accuracy. So if your agents are getting bad or incomplete information from them, they’re hurting more than they’re helping. Use the record of your past customer service interactions when creating call center scripts.
Past data will guide you in identifying the main issues customers have, what followup questions and concerns are common, and which responses yield the best customer satisfaction scores. Use that information to create data-backed resources that help your reps provide an improved experience.
Make consulting customer data the first step in the “script”
Before an agent starts to launch into any answer, the first step should always be to pull up the information about every interaction that’s come before. If a customer has already talked to another call center agent (or several), being asked to repeat the same information over and over again is frustrating. Every rep should take time at the beginning of every interaction with a customer to review all the available details first. This both saves the customer time in doing so, and means you have the information needed to find the best resource to help.
Train agents to keep the communication two way
Part of the problem with scripts is you risk talking at the customer rather than talking with them. The difference has a lot to do with whether or not you’re taking time to really listen to the customer versus trying to jump in with an answer, whether you understand the question or not. Agents should be trained to pause regularly and check in with the customer to make sure they’ve gotten the information right and see if the customer has anything to add.
This can also help agents avoid droning on past the point where a question has been answered. Shorter responses with frequent pauses give customers the chance to let you know when the problem is solved and get off the phone faster, so they can get back to their day.
Use your call center scripts wisely
Call center scripts serve a purpose, but they can become a detriment to the customer experience if your agents are overly reliant on them. By treating them more as a helpful guide, making sure they’re accurate, and making them accessible, you can turn them into a tool that enables your agents to provide better, faster service.