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Article : The Art of Script Writing

With today's progressive call center market and the increased competitiveness in the industry, it is extremely crucial to have an understanding of how to set your company apart from all the rest. This "set apart" doesn't refer to your people, products and services, and it really doesn't have much to do with your pricing. The primary focus in "set apart" is on how well your people present themselves to your customers. Simply and squarely…it is all in the "Script"! 

Before a good script can be written you first need to understand what the primary fears are of the receiver…the customer. Whether you are making an inbound or an outbound call, they both require careful step by step planning on how to help your agent get through the call professionally, personably and results oriented. 


Kathy Sisk, President


Throughout the years I have had many opportunities to visit various companies and assess their call center. Many of my assessments have identified two primary weaknesses in the agent's call guides (scripts) that need greater attention. Most scripts do not provide enough focus in the flow to allow agents to easily channel from Introduction to their Post Close. Typically it's expected that the agent, "think out of the box" but in reality that is not always possible particularly when the agent is new. A poor delivery will ultimately cause a bad reflection on your company and thus causing a decline in sales and in your customer retention. 

The key to prospecting is the relationship we develop with our customers. Part of this relationship is understanding our customers' three primary fears and addressing them ahead of time. If these fears surface into resistance or objections during the course of the call the agent needs to have the tools to help them successfully overcome them. This is true whether you are handling inbound, outbound, or sales calls; your customer's three fears exist. 

These three primary fears are:

The Approach: "What does this salesperson want from me?"

Pre-Purchase/Service Insecurity: "What if I make a decision and later regret it?"

Post-Purchase Remorse: "What have I done now?"

On the other hand, when it comers to an inbound call, let's say a customer calls and needs assistance or they may have a complaint; the three primary fears they have are:

The Approach: "How will I be handled?"

Pre-Purchase/Service Insecurity: "What if I don't get what I want?"

Post-Service Remorse: "Was I Satisfied??"

Through extensive research and testing various ways to overcome these fears, I've concluded the agent must be provided with the proper scripting to overcome these fears before they lose control of their presentation and the company loses face with their customers! Using the Steps that I am about to share with you will help make script writing a breeze. Whether your scripts are written for inbound or outbound calls, or your agent is to handling customer service, tech support, sales, or making cold calls, these steps will enhance the agent's delivery and give them greater control of the call; and your customers will be happier with the outcome!

Most agents are uncomfortable with a script that makes them sound like a robot. Furthermore your customers do not want to feel like they're being handled as though they were the millionth call of the day. Scripts are necessary, especially when working with multiple projects and training newly hired agents. When you have a well written script, your agent will remain in greater control of the call, your prospects are handled more professionally and you ensure your customers are receiving that necessary personable touch they are entitled to! 

Once you have decided to incorporate a script, you need to design them to overcome the prospect's fears when being approached by your agents. 

"The Approach.": the first 30 seconds of the agents presentation needs to overcome this fear or they may lose the opportunity to continue with their presentation altogether. The agent must tell the customer; "Who they are", "The company they represent", "How they acquired the customer's name", "They must respect their time" and "Give the customer the purpose of their call". Think about it, if you were called by someone you were not familiar with, you would you want to know this same information. Many customers will interrupt an agents presentation and ask, "How did you get my name?", "What's this all about?" or, during the middle of the agents presentation the customer may say, "I'm busy now!" or they prematurely say, "I'm not Interested", however in many cases that is not what the customer really means, they are just trying to get the agent off the phone in fear of ….

When addressing the Approach in your scripts the verbiage needs to be very precise. For example, you do not want to give up your control by saying, "May I speak with Mr. Johnson please?", "My name is Susan Smith", "Can I take a moment of your time?", "Would you have an interest in....?". Instead the agent will project greater control of their presentation by saying, "Good morning, I need to speak with Mr. Johnson please. (Say "please" as if you are making a statement NOT a question). Do not say, "My name is…" be more personable by stating who you are as, "This is Susan Smith". This way of introduction you project less of a solicitation, less intrusive type of phone call. 

It is important that the agent respects the time of your customer but without giving up control by asking if they have time. This is accomplished by acknowledging their time such as, "I appreciate you taking my call" or, "Thank you for taking my call". Using one of these phrases will ease the customers mind a bit and allow your agent to get to first base! Do not say, "Would you be interested?" instead be more proactive by using this phrase, "How important would this be to you?" or, "How valuable is this service?" The right use of Words and Phrases are essential when developing scripts; therefore give careful attention not to use words that are irritating, reactive, of negative influence or unprofessional.

The following is a list of the steps and the functions that are necessary to have when developing an outbound script: 

Introduction 

  • Greeting ("Good morning")

  • Establish contact ("I need to speak with Mr. Smith please")

  • Introduce yourself and company ("This is Kathy with ABC company")

  • Identify your landmark or location ("and we are located in California")

Reference

  • How you acquired their name ("You recently purchased our Z line product")

Respect for time

  • Acknowledge their time ("I appreciate you taking my call")

Purpose of Call

  •  Benefit Statement ("We're following up with our customers to ensure we have provided the best service possible….")

  • Permission to ask questions (To accomplish this, I need to ask you just a couple of quick questions if you don't mind.")

This type of scripting platform flows nicely and it tells the customer everything they want to know for the moment. This gives your agent greater control of the call and your customer will be more inclined to go through the next steps that overcome their second fear, "Pre Purchase/Service Insecurity".

When developing an inbound script, you need to be as precise as your outbound script but in modification. For example:

Introduction

  • Greeting ("Thank you for calling ABC company")

  • State your department name ("This is the Customer Service Department")

  • Offer Assistance ("How may I help you?")

Establish Rapport

  • Acknowledge ("I can help you")

  • Exchange names ("This is Kathy Brown and your name is?")

  • Reference ("How did you hear about us?" This is only used if it is a sales call)

Purpose of Call 

  • Caller's Objective ("What can I do for you today?" This is only used if they did not tell you earlier in your introduction)

Approach

  • Benefit Statement (" To assist you better….")

  • Permission to Ask Questions ("I need to verify some information if you don't mind")

Although there are Twelve Steps to write an effective script, the first Four Steps and it's functions will give your agents greater command of every call and your customers will be far more impressed with its non threatening, informative and proactive approach. When writing your scripts be sure that you use these Steps and Functions; be creative and change the verbiage based on the type of call handling. The importance of using a Step method when writing all your scripts is consistency; additionally your agents do not feel that they have to learn something new every time they switch to a new campaign. 

For those who dislike the use of scripts keep in mind that scripts, if properly written, should be used as a format, they are not meant to be used verbatim resulting in your agents sounding like a robot. Training your agents how to read from a script while including all the possible branching off capabilities is an essential part of grooming your agents' effective use of your scripts!


About Kathy Sisk
Kathy Sisk is president of Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. and Outsourcing International LLC. located in California. Kathy is a world renowned trainer and consultant and has contributed more than 28 years of her expertise to the Call Center industry. She is a published author with books such as, "Overcoming Objections", "12 Steps To Successful Telemarketing", "12 Steps To Successful Customer Service", and "Building Blocks To A Successful Call Center".

About The Company
Kathy Sisk Enterprises Inc. offers a wide range of services such as, Consulting, recruiting, assessments, center setup and reengineering, seminars, workshops, virtual training, script development, client outsourcing and project management services. KSE's call center solutions and customized training programs that directly benefit our clients through increased productivity and improved call center efficiency. Kathy Sisk, founder and president, designed platforms remove the guesswork of training and scripting by developing proven concepts using a unique "12 Step" scripting and training platform necessary to handle Inbound and Outbound Telemarketing, Customer Service, and Sales activities.

Today's Tip of the Day - Plan Training In Advance

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Wednesday, December 3, 2003

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