To script or not to script? That is the question
It’s a question that has raged across the industry for many years and will probably continue to do so.
There are many different trains of thought on this subject, some for and some against.
So should you script or not? Read on to find the answer.
I have been in the industry long enough to remember when diallers were first being used and the screen was supposed to pop up with the name of who you needed to speak to.
Unfortunately, back then it didn’t always work that way and you had to know what you needed to say whether it was in front of you or not. Needless to say, the whole team was pretty good at delivering the pitch without reading it!
Delivering a ‘sales pitch’
Let’s look at sales teams firstly. When delivering a ‘sales pitch’, for the best results you need to sound confident and knowledgeable, not something that is overly easy to pull off if you’re reading.
Having trained and coached many sales teams to success over the last few years I have found that not using a script when delivering the pitch works best.
You don’t want people sounding like they’re reading from a script
Notice that I said ‘when delivering the pitch’. What I mean by this is that, although you don’t want people sounding like they’re reading from a script when talking to customers, they have to learn somehow. Nobody can walk in and deliver a flawless pitch without learning it first.
What I’ve done in the past when training new people is to give them a script and then put a timescale on when I will take it off them. For example, they have a week’s induction and then a week of training so I would be testing them on delivering their pitch without reading it at the end of two weeks – which should give them plenty of time.
Have a bullet-pointed version close at hand
I’m not averse to letting them have a bullet-pointed version close at hand, because with that they still have to fill in the gaps themselves, so you don’t get the reading issue.
On the other side of the coin, you’ve got customer service and support teams and, as far as scripts are concerned, it’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
For compliance issues, it’s about how you deliver it
If teams are dealing with technical issues or support there could be compliance issues, purely because they may have to ensure that they ask certain questions or get certain information.
We’ve all heard the ‘This call may be recorded for training or compliance purposes’ speech on things like payment/direct debit/cancellation instructions.
In these instances it’s not so much about what the script says but more about how you deliver it. From a customer’s point of view, these are important facts that they need to hear, and the better the words are delivered, the more likely they are to be heard.
Customers respond better to someone who isn’t reading the script
Taking that into consideration, I believe that a customer will respond much better to someone who obviously knows what they’re doing as opposed to someone who is obviously reading the necessary questions or statements.
Alongside that, someone calling a customer service line wants to come off that call feeling better about the situation and happy that their problem will be solved. Talking to them in a non-scripted way is much more likely to achieve that than if the agent is obviously reading the questions and responses.
I would suggest that the general approach to using scripts, certainly in the sales environment, has changed somewhat over the years. With the apparent imminent death of cold calling, and the increasing numbers of people on TPS etc, that side of the industry has had to take a more consultative approach compared to the old school ‘throw enough mud and some will stick’ attitude of years gone by.
I have regular discussions with clients telling me that they don’t want their teams to use a script and I understand why. This generally comes about because the teams aren’t doing as well as they’d like and so they’re looking for answers.
A script should be used more as a training tool
For me, a script should be used more as a training tool and a means by which to measure performance.
Let me expand on that. As I’ve already said, a script is a starting point, a means by which staff can learn the ins and outs of what the business does and how to get that across to the customer – whether they’re sales or customer service.
I also mentioned using it to measure performance. Look at it like this, if everyone in the team is saying something different and your KPIs say that something is wrong, where do you start to look?
But if everyone is saying the same thing, then you at least have somewhere to start looking.
Of course, you have to be confident that the ‘script’ they’re using actually works…
Practise, practise, practise
The trick is to make the most of it as a learning tool but make sure your team practise, practise, practise once you have a workable script. Confidence is key. Once they can deliver their pitch or ask a customer the right questions without the need to keep referring back to a piece of paper they will sound better, they will feel better, and so will your customers, prospective or otherwise – which in turn means more revenue.
We’ve no doubt all been on the receiving end of an obviously scripted call and it’s never received well, so we know the downside of sticking to a script too rigidly.
On the flip side of that coin, hopefully we’ve also all been on the receiving end of a call delivered without reading a script and seen the obvious difference.
The worry, of course, is that people will stray too far away from the desired delivery or questions – but that’s where coaching comes in.
The moral of the story is that, in my humble opinion, scripts do have their place, but more as a learning tool than something to work by.
So do you think that contact centres should use scripts? Does your call centre use scripts? Please leave your comments in the box below.
Stuart Pearce is a Director of PRG Solutions
He is the author of “The Telesales Handbook”, and is an ex Telesales and Call Centre Manager, with a passion for helping people to improve the performance, productivity and motivation of their teams. http://www.prgsolutions.co.uk/
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