By Colin Taylor
[This post was adapted from a webinar that Colin Taylor delivered for Customer Contact Central on September 8, 2022. You can see the replay here while available: https://www.customercontactcentral.com/frs/22041151/top-industry-secrets-for-successful-contact-center-scripting/email]
When we think of a script a number of things can come to mind: The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as both ”the words of a film, play, broadcast, or speech” and as “a piece of paper on which a doctor writes the details of the medicine or drugs that someone needs” (in other words, a ”prescription’”).
My experience with scripts may go back to my education in TV and Video. In the call or contact center context, however, it goes back to the 1980s when I worked with advertising agencies and was responsible for about half of all of the telemarketing scripts employed in Canada.
What do we exactly mean by Contact Center Scripts?
Scripts have been around as long as contact centers. They set out an ”ideal’” path to success. Scripts try to make it easy for the agent. For example, legal compliance requirements may mandate that verbatims be read, word for word, hence the use of a script. The aim of a script has always been to assist and help the agent. Today’s technology has enabled many enhancements, automation, real-time guidance, and agent assist capabilities, such as real-time sentiment analysis and dynamic scripting. All of these technological innovations can make the interactions sound unscripted. This is a a positive step as research has found that 78% of consumers feel that a customer’s call experience is improved when the agents don’t sound scripted.
Not all centers employ scripts. Some have guides or a checklist of what needs to be accomplished on a call. This can help agents to become competent faster. Without scripts, there is an increased risk of errors or mistakes creeping into the interactions, so scripts can reduce that risk. Scripts also are based on the most effective path from “Hello” to “success,” which results in a more consistent handle time, improving schedule efficiency and outbound dialing automation.
We want to sound natural, not canned or ”scripted.” We can recognize something that sounds canned, contrived, or faked and it gets our back up That is why we avoid verbatim, “word-for-word” scripts unless they are required for legal or compliance reasons. We ask the agents to use their own voice and words to avoid sounding stilted or contrived.
When we create scripts, we must keep the customer in mind. We need their participation, or they will tune out. Just be careful to consider how many ways the customer may respond, or you may be surprised. Design your scripts to be authentic and avoid inauthentic sounding phrases, such as “as a valued Customer,” “your time is important,” etc. Empathy is an important skill for agents, because customers want to feel important, understood, and heard when they’ve encountered a problem. But fake empathy can be dangerous and have the opposite effect on the customer.
Plan on the agents repeating or paraphrasing anticipated issues. Your script should deal with the reasons why customers call or what possible objections and concerns they may have. Yes, patterning is an effective psychological technique. It relies on the fact that people are more likely to say “yes” to big questions if they follow a series of smaller questions. Getting someone in the habit of saying “yes” makes it easier to keep saying yes; as every child that has ever asked for an increase to their allowance, or to borrow the family car knows. We can’t script every possible question, concern, or eventuality though. At some point, we need to just trust in the agent’s knowledge, skills, and training.
Few customers call to say that they are happy with everything. Most call with a problem, an issue, or a concern that needs to be addressed The customers will attribute this to the organization; it really doesn’t matter whose fault it is or how we got here. The point is, what do we do now? So make sure your scripts have room for agents to apologize, regardless of who is to blame. Customers want to get their reason for calling resolved and we need to tell them, “we’ve got this.”
Remember that there is always a better way of doing everything. The great script today may not be great tomorrow. Always iterate and look to improve. Ask the agents for feedback and listen to recorded calls. Look at possible solutions or alternatives. Test the new scripts again, review recorded calls, and get agent feedback.
 Compliance Without Pressure- Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1966
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(Sep 26, 2022)