Dick Bourke shares his thoughts on how to make scripts work by highlighting five mistakes that contact centres often make.
Every call centre manager knows that when agents start out they need a script to follow when interacting with customers. To use an acting analogy, movie actors are issued with their script (sometimes months in advance) and will have a number of chances to get it right. On Broadway, an actor will have only one chance to get it right. They will rely on cues (visual or audio) from the scene so that they can time their delivery just right.
In a similar way to these actors, your agents will need to be issued with a script, they will need to familiarise themselves with the content of that script, they will need to be trained on what cues to look for during the call (or chat/email etc.). And in time, they will become more and more comfortable with the script and they will be able to identify those cues in their sleep.
Although managers want their agents to listen and use empathy, as well as tap into other soft skills, an agent should have a script for almost every interaction with a customer. This ensures that accurate, company-approved information is passed on. The script also allows for calls to be handled faster and more efficiently.
But not all scripts are created equal; nor can they be used in every situation. Developing a script that works well is key to achieving your objectives. Here are five common mistakes made in call centre scripts.
1. Call Centre Agents Must Be Trained When to Follow the Script
Hopefully, your script is dynamic enough to cover most situations. If your agents find that they cannot answer customer questions without improvising multiple times a day, perhaps it is time to return to the script board and develop additional language.
Still, there are going to be times when a customer has a unique situation that could not be anticipated. In these situations, an agent must be empowered to give them the correct information without relying on a script.
In order for agents to be able to act without a script, they have to be trained properly. This includes role play where they learn even the least-used parts of the script as well as what to do when the script does not cover the situation.
2. Don’t Make the Customer Feel Your Agents Are Reading From a Script
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than calling a company to get a problem resolved and feeling that they are not being heard. Sixty-nine percent of customers say they hate it when a call centre agent reads from a script.
Still, the customer wants the situation resolved, and the script has the solution.
So, agents need to be comfortable enough to provide a solution, word for word, without sounding like a robot.
3. Drop the False Empathy
The typical customer who calls your centre is not doing so to heap praises on you. No, they are calling because something is not working. Centres realise that they are dealing with frustrated people and they script empathy into their responses.
The problem is that customers can detect when they are being “fed a line”.
It is true that 60 percent of customers say they do not have a satisfactory experience when calling a customer service line. This does not mean that expressions of alliance and empathy help the situation.
Instead of trying to script empathy, train your agents to actually be empathetic. If their expressions of alliance are genuine, the customer will feel it and their experience will improve. If they feel the empathy is scripted, they will walk away with a feeling that they have been insincerely patronised.
4. Apologies Are Not Enough
When your company makes a mistake, it is not enough to say you’re sorry. You have to make it right. The apology is necessary, but not sufficient. Your employees have to be able to make the situation right.
Scripted apology lines should quickly transition to help solve the customer’s problem.
If your script empowers your agents to actually solve the customer’s problem, your quality score numbers will go way up.
5. Allow for Growth
Situations are going to arise when the script does not cover a situation. If this is a one-off, a good agent can improvise and move on. But when multiple customers experience the same thing – and your script does not cover it – it is time to develop new scripting.
A good agent is flexible. A good call centre manager knows when to update the script. The script is always a work in progress. There will never be a time when it is “complete”.
Just as agents need to be able to adapt, the script does as well. You should allow for the growth of your people and your stock responses.
Scripts That Work
In the first 60 seconds of the call, you should be able to convey your core message and find out what the customer needs. Anything in your script that takes away from this efficiency should be removed.
The rest of the call should be spent resolving the customer’s problem. Anything that takes away from that task should be removed.
Your call centre agents need scripts that allow them to efficiently resolve situations that customers feel are unique to them. They want to feel like your company views them as people. A good script can accomplish this. If your satisfaction scores don’t reflect that they are viewed this way, it is time to tweak the script.
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