Do your call scripts make call center agents better or dumb?

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Do your call scripts make call center agents better or dumb?

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Guidelines and talking points sound different to customers than do call-controlling scripts.  A call center agent who sounds like an advocate or advisor because they naturally converse (what they are told to say), deliver a better customer experience.  With your effort to help agents connect with the caller or to control the content of the call, your scripts easily become a cause of poor customer experiences.

You know that being a call center agent is extremely difficult.  Were you aware that multitasking is close to impossible for human beings to do?  Did you know that with each additional task added to the basic task of listening, efficiency and effectiveness degrade?  Add the need to say specific things during the call to the list of tasks that have already decimated the ability to perform and what do you get?  Well, you get call center agents who sound like idiots (and robots) because they resort to reading the script and not one who is thinking about what the caller is saying.  As far as your customers are concerned, you have engineered intelligence, common sense, and human emotion right out the door.

Your customer experience and/or speech analytics can help to identify agents who are desensitized due to over scripting.  If you are only doing traditional quality monitoring then you are not actually listening what your customers are saying.  Here are some examples of what you could hear:

“I called to close my account and the rep ends with the required thank you to me for being a valued customer.  I am not a customer any more!”

“An agent referred to me by the wrong name the entire call even after I corrected her and spelled my name out twice.  If you can’t get it right, don’t keep using my name.  I was so frustrated by the end of the call I just hung up on her.”

“The whole point of the call was to process the return for this XYZ so why would you try to sell me an extended warranty at the end of it all?”

“It seemed like she wanted to help me but I just couldn’t get much more out of her than whatever she was reading to me.  It wasn’t very helpful so why did I bother calling you?”

About Dr. Jodie Monger

Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics and a pioneer in voice of the customer research for the contact center industry. Before creating CRMetrics, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.

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  • I’m not an advocate of scripted conversations with the exception of compliance notifications that legally must be read.

    The most effective way I’ve found to approach a conversation with a customer or prospect is to rely on a methodology not a script. The best one that I’ve used is McKee Motivation’s LAMA technique – Listen, Acknowledge, Make a Statement, Ask a Question. This approach allows the agent to utilize more conversational speech and also focuses the agent on what the caller is saying rather than searching for the next branch of a script.

  • Scripts are a good starting point, but call center agents need to be able to roll with the flow of the conversation. Sticking to a script that doesn’t answer the needs of your customer is only going to turn them away from your company.

  • Greg Schuurman

    Though I agree wholeheartedly with the comments made about personalizing the experience for each caller, I have the unfortunate disadvantage of adhering to strict legislative rules governing all communication with consumers. What I have found that works really well is having the agents constantly listening to their own calls to improve their courtesy; empathy. The rule is that “I am a pleasure to contact”.
    The difficulty for most callers is that they are not educated about the internal processes we follow, that is the agent’s responsibility to manage in a way that the caller understands; in the most professional manner. It boils down to equipping the agent through correct; ongoing training; development, giving them the confidence ( and authority) to deal with each issue.

  • Good question. To me, there’s a number of points here;

    1. How do you get to the point where every agent will answer the same question the same way, regardless?
    2. How does and agent answer the question, correctly, based upon ALL of the information at the agents fingertips?
    3. How can you deliver 1 and 2 above, without everything being “scripted” OR without spend $$ more dollars on training and without extending AHT?
    4. What happens when you want the answer to change, even during the same day (based upon a new campaign, competitiveness or internal alert)?

    First, if the agent has to look at 25 or 100 or 500 bits of information on the screen, scattered across multiple applications, they can only do it so fast. They are after all – ONLY HUMAN. They can only remember so much and often the pressure of the days call can easily lead to trying to “sound right” or just transferring the caller on.

    For many with these issues, desktop automation let’s the agent focus on the caller. Computers need to support call flow and be flexible to enable greater and more personable experiences, not block them.

  • Harshit Sharma

    Call scripts would not make an agent better because it would limit the thinking of an agent and he/she would not be able to build a healthy conversation with the customers. The agent would sound robotic and the customer would be least interested in talking to the agent. Call scripts can be useful for opening/closing a call if it is short and crisp however scripts for rebuttal would hamper the call quality. Every individual would have a different level of understand for e.g. few agents would be smart enough to apply the script at the right time wherein few agents would get confused which results in extended call duration and unsatisfied customers. Overall if an agent is not using a script they are getting an opportunity to groom themselves.

  • mark

    Thanks for the great blog on “Do your call scripts make call center agents better or dumb?”. I own a Seattle Washington Call Center company. I’m sure my employees and I will learn alot from what you’ve posted here. Keep up the good work.

  • In terms of cognitive load, what you’ll find is that it is harder to use scripts, at the beginning, and that when an interaction doesn’t “play by the script”, the employee loses his place. So, it makes it appear that the person is stupid. Sometimes. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s close enough for rock and roll.
    (weird, everything is coming out in caps)