But with the advantages offered by call centers come several potential dangers that can easily disrupt their overall effectiveness. After all, when you allow customers to communicate directly with representatives, you are putting your entire brand’s reputation in the hands of a single employee. At this point whatever that representative says or does becomes, at least in the eyes of the customer, official company policy. Therefore, it’s vitally important that organisations take steps to ensure that the live representatives that populate their call centers are consistent, accurate, always following business best practices. To this end, most call centers employ call center scripts.
Benefits of Call Center Scripts
Call centers scripts, are, for lack of a better word, scripts that live representatives can read from when interacting with customers. These scripts can be as thorough as detailing every word that should be spoken by the representative in any given situation, or be something as simple as a basic outline that representatives can follow to ensure that they’re never left hunting for the correct words to say. These scripts ensure that only accurate, company-endorsed information is being shared, while also safeguarding the organisation in regard to legal-compliance issues. In short, these scripts help keep every member of the call-center team unified, accurate, and effective. And given that call center scripts also allow for faster, more-efficient call handling, and that as little as a 1% improvement in response rates means an annual operational savings of $276,000 for the average call center, then it’s easy to see why most call centers have excitedly committed to the idea.
Unfortunately, many customers aren’t nearly as excited about scripts. A 2014 survey suggested that 69% of customers feel that their call center experience improves when the customer service agent doesn’t sound as though they are reading from a script. Stiff, robotic greetings and obviously-canned responses make customers feel undervalued, and can make call centers appear disingenuous, uncaring, or even rude.
As such, many companies are finding themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place; they need to ensure accuracy, speed, and compliance in their call centers, but they need to do it in a way that isn’t obviously scripted, for fear of alienating their clients. It is possible to create effective call center scripts while also providing your customers with the highly-personalised interactions that they prefer. Here’s how:
- Use call recording to develop a natural sounding script
Many call centers use call recording as a way to identify problems, evaluate performance, collect relevant statistical data, and even provide protection in the event of legal disputes. But beyond these advantages, call recording can also be used to refine and improve call center scripts. Evaluating actual calls featuring actual customer concerns makes it possible for call centers to alter their scripts to better provide solutions in a straightforward, efficient way. Call recording also helps call centers create scripts that are more conversational, rather than ones that sound unnatural.
- Give callers a chance to say ‘yes’
For whatever reason, when people have the opportunity to respond to something positively, they begin to see the experience as being a positive one. Take advantage of this phenomenon by constructing your scripts to promote positive responses. This can be done by quickly asking the client to verify certain information, such as name, date of birth, address, etc. Promoting positive responses may help to calm aggressive or unhappy callers, and to help establish a positive relationship between the client and the representative early in the call.
- Be concise in your wording
As addressed above, the more quickly that a call center can address and resolve issues, the more money it will end up saving. However, there is another reason why keeping calls short and sweet is important. Overly-long scripts can wear away at customer patience, aggravating what might already be a delicate situation. Additionally, too much complexity in a script will often result in confusion, miscommunication, or even customer termination of the call. Review your scripts to ensure that only those things that are relevant to the issue at hand are being said, and that they are being said as concisely as possible.
- Design your script with customer responses in mind
Scripts should be more than just a monologue read by a live representative; they should be the introduction to a productive conversation with the caller. Scripts that focus too heavily on what the service agent should be saying, and don’t take into account the need to allow customers to speak and respond in turn, quickly lead to unhappy clients
- Use scripts to validate customer concerns
By the time a client contacts a call center, they are often already aggravated and anxious. More than anything else, they want their concerns validated and resolved as quickly as possible. Thus, it is critical that call-center agents demonstrate to the caller that they understand the issue as it is being explained. Scripts should provide a way for agents to politely repeat back any pertinent information shared with them by the caller, and help to validate the problem at hand.
- Be careful of inauthenticity
Phrases such as “You are a valued customer” and “your time is important to us” are likely true, but have a tendency to sound inauthentic when said to callers who are trying to get help resolving an issue. Instead of including empty reassurances in your script, show your customer how much they are valued, by using polite tone and language, and by demonstrating an understanding of the problem and any potential solutions.
- Be flexible
Many call centers find themselves attempting to script entire conversations, but this is generally impossible. Instead of attempting to create a script for every possible contingency, train your agents well enough that they’ll be able to correctly handle unexpected issues as they arise. Leave your scripts flexible, and never put so much importance into following scripts that you don’t allow for customers to interject, interrupt, or redirect the conversation.
- Recognise that apologies are not enough
To unhappy customers who are looking for solutions, an apology—although appreciated—is usually not enough. Instead, include in your script the phrase “I can take care of that for you,” and then empower the agents to actually be able to resolve issues. Customers that contact call centers expect more than just someone to take the blame; they expect that their problems will be solved quickly. By designing a script that makes it clear that the live representatives are capable of resolving problems directly, you diffuse a number of problematic situations before they start, and help to turn potentially negative experiences into positive ones.
- Alway be adapting
There’s no such thing as a perfect script—there will always be something that needs improving. Regularly review and reevaluate your script, and be willing to make changes where necessary. Your script should be a work-in-progress, always adapting to meet the changing needs of your clients.
Sample Scripts for Call Center Agents
Although there isn’t one, single ‘correct’ call center script that is perfect for every organisation, there are certain commonalities between the best scripts that can be used to create sample scripts for call center agents. The following sample inbound call center scripts may be helpful in giving you an idea of the basic preferred structure of the scripts that are most effective.
- Call Center Opening Scripts
The opening script should quickly establish the name of the company, the name of the live representative, and that the call may be recorded for training or other purposes (if necessary). It should be concise and to the point, polite, and easily lead directly into the customer concern.
Hello, and thank you for calling (name of company). My name is (name of representative). At this time, I’d like to let you know that this call may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes. How may I assist you today?
- Call Center Closing Scripts
Once the problem has been effectively resolved, the agent should ask if there is anything else that the customer would like addressed, thank them for taking the time to call, restate the company name, and then politely sign off. Much like the opening script, this should be done in a concise way—the customer, at this point, is hopefully satisfied, and will probably be eager to bring the call to a close.
Is there anything else that I can help you with today? (Wait for response; address any additional concerns) In that case, thank you for calling (name of company). We hope that you had a satisfactory experience with us today, and we look forward to working with you in the future. Have a great day!
Scripts that Work
There are a number of potential issues inherent in using scripts when speaking with callers, but these issues can all be addressed by carefully creating scripts that are flexible, informative, concise, and—above all—helpful. Your clients are interested in finding a solution to whatever issues are plaguing them, and expect your call center agents to be able to assist them politely and effectively. More than anything else, your scripts should be aimed at furthering this goal, because when all is said and done, how your agents helped solve the problem will be much more important than the specific words they used to do so.