Article : Call Center Scripting - Top Tips for Making it Work
Scripting is often a nasty word in the call center business. When Representatives hear it they think of something that "stifles their creativity", "makes them sound like everyone else", and "makes a boring job even more mundane." Talk with the consumers who deal with call centers regularly and they also have a negative opinion of scripting. "It sounds like you're talking to a robot," and "They really don't know the answer to my question. They have to search for the scripted response that most closely matches what they think I want to hear." When scripting is not handled correctly it can cause your Associates to sound like bored robots, create distance between you and your customers and actually lengthen the calls when the Associates feel as though they need to search the database for the right answer. But, when scripting is handled correctly it can actually increase your Associate's comfort level with your processes, increase customer loyalty and decrease average handle time. Here are the Top 5 Tips for Making Scripting work for your call center.
Determine Your Organizational Goals For Scripting
In order to maximize the value of scripting to your organization and to your customers, be sure to determine what your scripting philosophy is. The philosophy that has been most successful for call centers is to provide a call guide that specifies the key points of each segment of the call, but not to hold everyone accountable for saying each and every word correctly. For example: A guided call opening would be to include a welcoming statement, the company name, the Associate's first name and the opening probe. Whether the Associate said, "My name is John," or "This is John" is not the point. This type of call guide approach to scripting allows the Associates to feel that they have a degree of ownership over their customer interactions while allowing your organization to create a consistent message for your customers. Be sure to communicate to the entire organization, including training, human resources and marketing, how your call guides are handled and how the message is communicated to the Associates when there are new products or services to be introduced.
Determine the Communication Vehicle for Introducing New Scripting
Most call centers now have a Communication Team that works closely with the Operation to develop the appropriate word choice for the Associates. All new products, services, emergencies or policies are directed to the Communications Team so they can draft the preferred method of scripting for the Associates. Make sure that your Communications Team is in the loop on ALL messages that are delivered to your customers by your Associates (changes in delivery methods, new payment terms, and even product descriptions) so they can develop a clear message for everyone to use with all your customers. Also ensure that your Communications Team considers ALL the needs of the business when developing scripting. A long order confirmation script may meet the needs of ensuring accuracy of the order but may be causing too high of an average handle time, thereby costing your company more money than may be required.
Sponsor message - content continues below this message
2020 '15th annual' Global Contact Center World Awards NOW OPEN!
Enter your Center, Strategy, Technology Innovation, People and more into the ONLY TRULY GLOBAL awards program - regarded by many as being like the Olympics for the Contact Center World! Join the best from over 50 nations and compete for the most prestigious awards out there!
Content continues ….Ensure that Everyone Knows the Right Message
Scripting is sometimes like a game of telephone. The first person states the message as it was intended, but by the time that the message has been delivered to 100 people, the communication is garbled, misunderstood and twisted around. Rely on your Communication Team to continue reinforcing not only the scripting but also the reason and rationale for the desired word choice. If the reason for the desired scripting is for legal purposes, everyone needs to understand the legal ramifications if the scripting is not followed. If there are leeways being allowed with certain scripting, that needs to be fully communicated to everyone. Everyone in your center should understand the message that is to be communicated to customers and why or when flexibility is allowed and when it is not.
Understand the Goal of Scripting
Many Associates do not understand the purpose of scripting. This is evident when you speak to a call center Associate and ask them why they said something and their response is, "Because if I don't say it that way I will get marked off on my monitoring score." If the only reason why an Associate is saying something is because it is being monitored and "graded", then they are saying it for the wrong reasons. Be sure that your Quality Assurance team understands the true purpose and reason for your scripting so that they can continue to reinforce the right message throughout your organization. If they are "marking off" because an Associate said something or didn't say it, they should be able to clearly define why the omission was important to achieving the customer's goals or the company's goals, not just to achieve a "score" on the monitoring form.
Continually Monitor and Listen for Best Practices
Be sure that you are utilizing your Quality Assurance team to their fullest potential by monitoring for best practices in scripting. Listen to how your Associates respond to certain customer questions. If you identify a "best practice" being utilized by some of your Associates, be sure to funnel that scripting to the Communications Team so they can be the communication vehicle for everyone adapting to this scripting. Listen for how long it takes certain Associates to respond to certain questions or explain some of your procedures. Do you find that the message is clear or concise? Or is it long and confusing? Your Associate's word choice and decision making on how to communicate certain messages could be costing your organization a great deal of money. Listen for the most effective and efficient way to handle customer situations and then make sure that everyone knows the best practice. Your customers will experience greater consistency and your organization will be managing average handle time efficiently.
Here are specific types of scripting techniques that will maximize your customer's experience with you and allow you to most efficiently manage your handle time:
Most greetings include, "How may I help you?" as the opening probe. To gain better call control and allow your Associates to move more efficiently to addressing the customer's need, consider a closed probe such as, "May I have your account number please?" "May I confirm your mailing address please?" or "Which type of service are you inquiring about today?"
Ending Statements with Appropriate Probes:
Provide preferred messages to your Associates so that they end all statements with a probing question. Teach your Associates to maintain control of the call by following each statement with a probe. "Your current balance is $149.00 and your payment due date is December 31. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?" When your Associates are not ending their statements with probes, your customers don't always know what to say next and needless dead air time is accumulated. Teach your Associates to use probing effectively so that they maintain call control and guide the call to a successful closure.
Moving to a Solution:
Listen to calls of customers who have challenging situations. Do you find that your Associates dwell on the problem rather than moving to a solution? Do you find that they tell your customers everything that you can't do rather than focusing on what you can do to solve the problem? Develop scripting that incorporates appropriate acknowledging statements with strong resolution statements that demonstrate to your customers that you are committed to resolving the issue, rather than concentrating on the problem.
The right scripting being done for the right reasons assists your call center in creating Associates who have a great deal of confidence in what they are saying, a customer base that is treated fairly and consistently with respect and accuracy and a bottom line for your company that is based on efficient use of resources and handle time that is creating the highest customer experience at the lowest cost.
Today's Tip of the Day - Engage Your Agents!
More Editorial From Interweave Corp.
About Kimberly Mitchell:
Kimberly King is the founder and President of InterWeave, a contact center performance management solutions provider. Developing efficient call flows, effective training programs and valid monitoring evaluation standards has been a part of her career for the last 20 years.
About Interweave Corp.:
InterWeave, a contact center performance management consulting firm, partners with organizations to work with people and implement change in the areas of hiring, training, and ongoing performance improvement. InterWeave’s approach deals with the effectiveness and efficiency of contact centers in the retail, utility, medical, financial, and telecommunications markets. InterWeave’s philosophy and services elevates Representative performance, customer satisfaction levels, cost levels, and revenue streams.
Published: Thursday, December 4, 2003