A script is a written guide produced for agents to assist them with call handling. While they have traditionally been printed booklets, scripts are increasingly incorporated into CRM systems and appear as on-screen prompts. Their content ranges from material that agents are expected to recite verbatim to suggestions on how the agent can maximise interactions.
Scripts are most commonly used by outbound agents in situations where a successful phraseology has been established. This is especially true of cold calling, which often involves skills that are hard to master, like objection handling.
While incoming contacts are sometimes scripted, the inability to predict a customer’s needs makes it harder to produce relevant materials.
The benefits of scripting
Where scripts are deployed, agents are usually graded on script adherence. Adherence is very simple to measure, making the quality control process quicker and easier for coaches to perform. In environments which do not use scripts, coaches must invest time developing more nuanced measures for judging call quality.
Scripting material also guarantees that agents deliver the same service in every interaction. Historical sales data can indicate the points in a conversation at which up-selling is most likely to be successful, and that lesson is passed on to all agents.
Alternatively, some centres use scripts for training only. Agents work from a script until they are familiar enough with the expectations that they no longer need it. They can also work collaboratively to improve processes; by allowing agents to annotate an online copy of the script and then reviewing the suggested changes, development areas can be defined.
Scripting also aids compliance by ensuring that the messages businesses are legally obliged to deliver are delivered with perfect consistency. Some CRM systems will not complete a transaction until it is confirmed that terms and conditions have been read and understood.
Scripting of parts of a call for compliance
In some contact centre environments only parts of a call are scripted for compliance purposes. One of the classic examples of a compliance script is:
“Your home is at risk is you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage”.
Issues with scripting
Customer service is increasingly seen as a brand differentiator, which undoubtedly benefits from the hiring of talented agents offering a personalised service. While scripting parts of interactions will make agents’ work easier, relying heavily on prepared materials has been shown to reduce engagement.
Scripts may also leave agents less able to adapt to change or help customers whose needs are outside the common experience. Contact centres increasingly seek to vary the duties their agents undertake, recognising that too much repetition limits an employee’s enjoyment of their work. Even minor variations in how information is delivered can contribute to the agent’s sense of autonomy in the workplace.
It also benefits the customer, who experiences a greater sense of value when dealing with a representative they perceive as responding to their situation naturally. Personal investment and spontaneous conversation are the elements that can take interactions from being serviceable to being memorable.