Why your call centre script shouldn’t be a sales pitch
Why your call centre script shouldn’t be a sales pitch
‘Hello, <insert customer name> how are you today I’m calling to tell you about an amazing upgrade available to you for your existing <insert product name> if I could take 5 minutes of your time, I’d really appreciate it’.
Did you know, according to a study by Walker, that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by 2020? This is huge. This means how your call centre agents communicate with your customers has never been more important. Notice I said ‘communicate’, not ‘talk to’. Because reading from a call centre script can be a sure-fire way to lose a customer very quickly. While scripting has long been a key tool for call centre agents, the mechanical, word for word regurgitation of scripts makes a positive customer experience very hard to come by. It’s time to change how scripts are used.
First Impressions Count
Working on the frontline of customer service, it is well known that the first moments of speaking with a customer can make or break the call. It’s even been stated that agents have precisely 7 seconds to give a positive first impression. The pressure! The response to this is often to squeeze as much information into these 7 seconds as is humanely possible. The customer has a question? There is no time for that! I am concentrating on my first impression. A first impression is absolutely invaluable in establishing a rapport with a customer, and setting the tone for the call, but it’s not about using a call centre script to bombard them with information. It could be as simple as displaying a bit of empathy and asking them if it’s a good time to talk. If you know anything about the customer, and you should, you might as if it’s a good time as you know it’s getting close to school pick up time. A little consideration can go a long way to getting your customer on side.
Use Scripts Sparingly
A script is not product knowledge. Your agents should know your product back to front, and this comes from giving them the right balance of proper training, support, the right system and on the job experience. Consider using reference materials- key points and prompts rather than a verbatim call centre script. The conversation needs to flow, and your agents needs to be able to adapt to the energy the customer is bringing to the call, and the type of issue they have or information they are after. Recruit conversationalists- in your interviews make sure you veer away from the structured interview questions a little and see how easy it is to get a nice, free-flowing conversation happening.
If it’s Inbound – lose the call centre script
If a customer is calling a call centre, it means they want to speak with a human. They are unlikely to be pleased with an agent reciting an obviously pre-scripted speech- and it is always so obvious. A Verint research study conducted in June 2016, found that:
- Those who receive more human or traditional customer service display more positive behaviors toward brands, and;
- The more complex the service request, the more likely consumers are to prefer human interaction to digital channels.
Give the people what they want- an actual two-way conversation with a human, so they can solve their issue or get the information they need. It’s likely if it was straight-forward query they would have sourced the information elsewhere, so they want the level of service that comes from talking to a human, not a chatbot.
If it’s Outbound – use the call centre script sparingly
The details of the offer or the reason for the call are set- they won’t change so your agents should know this information inside out. But they need to learn this information before picking up the phone to make an outbound call. They then should be put the information into their own words, so it feels more natural to them. Having words and phrases jotted down in front of them can act as a prompt, which they can revise as they see what resonates with customers. Get your team to practice with colleagues, run training sessions where everyone presents the same call centre script in their own way.
Inbound or outbound, a solid customer service experience comes down to confidence. Equip your agents with the knowledge they need and the support to help the gain the confidence so they’re less reliant on call centre scripts to have an effective conversation with a customer.
Get the right system
If you tell your team to use call centre scripts more as a guide, and not read them word for word, you’re probably taking away their favourite snuggly security blanket. After all, it’s easy to read, right? Anyone can do it. Customer service is a confidence game, so if you’re limiting use of one of their key tools, you need to make sure they have others to keep mojo levels high. The right call centre software system is a no brainer. You need a system that allows your agents to quickly and easily pull up customer details, product information and the history of the customer’s interactions with your company. You can’t have them accessing multiple systems to access different information- there is no time for that. A click of the mouse – the customer’s account details pop up. Another click – an on-screen call centre script will appear, which prompts your agents to give meaningful responses to the issue they are discussing. Invest in the right system, or the cost of staff turnover will be high as confidence will plummet.
Make scripts fluid
How can you use scripts for good instead of evil? Keep the script simple- don’t try to use flowery, jargon-y language. Keep it positive and upbeat and ensure your key messages are front and centre. Ensure you are listening in on your team’s calls so you get a sense of how comfortable they are with the information, and conduct regular training to fill in the knowledge gaps. Have your team experiment with silence- time is of the essence in any customer service call- it’s one of your key metrics, but make sure they are giving the customer the time and space to process what is being thrown at them, especially for outbound. Your agents have been living and breathing the product for their entire shift, but they’ve probably taken a customer out of something completely unrelated so it can take a beat for them to switch gears and be able to understand what is being said to them.
Call centre scripts are not the enemy- in fact they remain an important tool in the arsenal of a strong call centre agent. Where they become problematic is when they are used as a rigid roadmap rather than a guide. Every customer is different and they will always have different questions and require different information- not to mention have their own temperament and expectations of customer service staff. Use scripts as a fluid, adaptable guide for staff to support them in developing their own rapport with customers, rather than a strict outline of what to say. As your staff get more knowledgeable and confident, the call centre scripts become more of an occasional reference rather than a prop for every call- and that knowledge and confidence is what creates a positive customer experience.
Depending on the experience and personality of your team make it less restrictive, give them the ability to ad lib, think of a guide, Make it plain, spoken English, remove negative statements, Use colour and visuals to aid agents, Make it easy to memorise, personalise it, always read it out loud beforehand, listen in to calls and see what is working and what isn’t, you’ll soon get a sense of what needs to change and adapt it immediately. Is there anything else I can help you with today.