Every call center manager knows that when agents start out, they need a script to follow when interacting with customers. It’s similar to when Broadway actors are issued a script (sometimes months in advance). It gives them several chances to practice how to get it right, before going on stage and performing in front of a live audience with no do-overs. In a similar way to these actors, your agents should be issued a call center script to familiarize themselves with. From there, they should be trained on what cues to look for during a call (chat, email, etc.) to hit the right note. Over time, your agents will become more and more comfortable with the script and be able to handle almost any situation.
However, the success of your agents depends on the quality of your call center script. And there are situations that are best suited for utilizing a script.
What is a Call Center Script?
First, what is a call center script? It’s a document that clearly and concisely outlines how a contact center agent is supposed to handle customer interactions. The idea is to help your agents maintain information consistency and create meaningful conversations for an exceptional customer experience.
Your call center script should offer guidance and direct language for handling the most common situations, including:
- How to introduce themselves.
- Various responses to specific problems.
- How to handle escalations.
- How to upsell/offer additional services.
- How to deliver a call to action (CTA).
- How to close the conversation.
How Effective Are Call Center Scripts?
So, the question is, “Are call center scripts effective?” Yes, they absolutely can be. When well crafted, call center scripts can:
- Minimize Human Error: Call center scripts are a quick reference guide for agents to use when they feel stuck or need to know best practices.
- Encourage Consistency: Your customers deserve consistent conversations and interactions with your agents no matter who they are speaking with.
- Develop Agent Confidence: New agents, in particular, can worry that they are going to say the wrong thing or get stuck on a problem. Call center scripts help agents anticipate customer needs.
- Improve Customer Service: Agents will offer a better overall customer experience by following a script based on your top-performing agents and their best practices.
But are call center scripts always a good idea? Can you use them in any and every situation?
When Should Call Center Scripts Be Used?
Although managers want their agents to listen and use empathy, as well as tap into other soft skills, an agent should have a script for almost every interaction with a customer. This ensures that accurate, company-approved information is passed on. The script also allows for calls to be handled faster and more efficiently.
As for when call center scripts should be used. They work best as:
- A shortcut that agents can use to find the right information and provide appropriate answers.
- A failsafe to keep agents on track, accurate, and consistent during difficult calls.
- A guideline for handling customer problems and providing consistent customer experiences with every interaction.
By providing your call center reps with the words, guidelines, and information they need to do their jobs, you are empowering them to be more effective. However, it’s important to note that a call center script is only effective when it follows 15 best practices.
15 Call Center Script Best Practices
Not all call center scripts are created equal, nor can they be used in every situation. Following call center script best practices are key to achieving your objectives. Here are 15 ways to be successful.
1. Hire the Right Call Center Agents
You can’t script sincerity, kindness, and joy. No matter how great of a call center script you write, if your agents are unhappy or disengaged, it will come through in the customer interaction.
In fact, 68 percent of customers believe the key to great customer service is a polite customer service representative. That’s why you need to focus on hiring the right agents from the beginning. If they have the right attitude and soft skills from the start, then anything you provide them with a call center script is just icing on the cake.
2. Get to the Point Quickly and Efficiently
According to Microsoft, 72 percent of consumers expect customer service agents to “know who they are, what they have purchased, and have insights into their previous engagements.”
In the first 60 seconds of the call, you should be able to convey your core message and find out what the customer needs. The rest of the call should be spent resolving the customer’s problem. Anything in your script that takes away from this efficiency should be removed.
Your call center agents need scripts that allow them to efficiently resolve situations that customers feel are unique to them. They want to feel like your company views them as people. A good script can accomplish this. If your satisfaction scores don’t reflect that they are viewed this way, it is time to tweak the script.
3. Train Agents When to Follow Call Center Scripts and When Not To
Hopefully, your script is dynamic enough to cover most situations. If your agents find that they cannot answer customer questions without improvising multiple times a day, perhaps it is time to return to the script board and develop additional language.
Still, there are going to be times when a customer has a unique situation that could not be anticipated. In these situations, an agent must be empowered to give the correct information without relying on a script.
In order for agents to be able to act without a script, they have to be trained properly. This includes role-play where they learn even the least-used parts of the script as well as what to do when the script does not cover the situation.
4. Read Your Script Aloud and Make Adjustments until it Sounds Natural
Have you ever written something and thought it sounded great until you heard it out loud? Or have you ever watched a movie or TV show where the character’s dialog sounded fake or stilted? It happens often.
It’s actually much more difficult than you think to write a script that sounds natural and real. To ensure your call center script doesn’t come across as scripted, you need to read each line aloud until it sounds friendly, conversational, and authentic.
Put yourself into the customer’s shoes and really listen to what you’re saying and how it’s coming across. It is worth investing time into writing an effective script that makes it sound like you’re talking to a friend and not reading lines.
5. Don’t Make the Customer Feel Your Agents are Reading from a Script
Even if you’ve made your script sound natural, it’s important to note that it won’t work word-for-word in every situation. That’s why you need to give your agents the training and ability to go off-script or make small adjustments, as necessary, to be more conversational.
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than calling a company to get a problem resolved and feeling that they are not being heard. Sixty-nine percent of customers say they hate it when a call center agent reads from a script.
Still, the customer wants the situation resolved, and the script has the solution. So, agents need to be comfortable enough to provide a solution without sounding like a robot.
6. Make Your Scripts Personal
According to Accenture, 33 percent of customers who abandoned a business relationship in 2017 did so because personalization was lacking.
Customers want to feel like they matter and are talking to a human who cares about them and their problems. That’s why it’s essential to write personalization into your call center scripts.
To do this, refer to customers by their names. This automatically develops trust and familiarity in the conversation. From there, make sure your agents mention the pain point often during the conversation to emphasize that they are working directly on the customer’s needs.
The entire script should feel customized exclusively for the customer.
7. Drop the False Empathy
The typical customer who calls your center is not doing so to heap praises on you. No, they are calling because something is not working. You must realize that you are dealing with frustrated people and thus script empathy into your responses.
The problem is that customers can detect when they are “being fed a line.”
It is true that 60 percent of customers say they do not have a satisfactory experience when calling a customer service line. This does not mean that expressions of alliance and empathy help the situation.
Instead of trying to script empathy, train your agents to actually be empathetic. If their expressions of alliance are genuine, the customer will feel it, and their experience will improve. If they feel the empathy is scripted, they will walk away with a feeling that they have been insincerely patronized.
8. Turn Your Scripts Into Knowledge Resources
You cannot plan for every eventuality in a call center script. It’s just not possible. No one can think of every line to say and every problem they’ll encounter.
That’s why making a script that just provides a list of lines to say isn’t very valuable. Instead, you should format your script so that it is an accessible internal knowledge database that offers answers to most questions. After all, one in three people say that the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent.
The idea is to make your call center script searchable via tags or categorized answers so that your agents can find the information they need when they need it. Consider using customer service technology to organize and format your scripts and resources efficiently.
9. Keep Things Simple
While knowledge resource databases are invaluable, don’t overcomplicate things. You have to find a very careful balance between creating versatile scripts that are useful and creating something that’s too large, complicated, and varied to understand.
As much as you can, keep things simple. Use your contact center analytics software and Scorebuddy scorecards to measure how your call center scripts perform. Make adjustments and then compare results. You might have to experiment with how simple or complicated your script is, but it will be worth it in the end.
10. Don’t Forget the Basics
This might sound obvious, but call center script best practices mean handling the basics of call center quality first and foremost. Don’t skip to the problems without talking about strong greetings, using the customer’s name, etc.
The basics are exactly what they sound like. You need to write out:
- How to greet the customer.
- When and how to use the customer’s name and then how to continue addressing them (Mr., Mrs., Sir, Madam, etc.).
- How to introduce yourself and what personal pronouns to use (I, me, you, us, etc.).
- Words to avoid such as “possibly,” “perhaps,” “could,” etc.
- How to end the call.
- The clear call to action (CTA) that should be included.
11. Write Multiple Scenarios and Paths Into the Script
Every caller is unique. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for a wide range of eventualities.
Sit down with your team to create easy paths for a range of reasons why a customer might call your call center. For example:
- Are they looking for information on a product?
- Do they need your contact information?
- Do they have questions about pricing?
- Is there an emergency problem?
You get the idea.
Plan for multiple possibilities in the script and offer a pathway that your agents can use to get to the best solution quickly and easily. The key is to understand your customer’s needs and fears before performing this exercise so you can plan how to help them.
12. Apologies are Not Enough
When your company makes a mistake, it is not enough to say you’re sorry. You have to make it right. The apology is necessary, but not sufficient. Your employees have to be able to make the situation right.
Scripted apology lines should quickly transition to help solve the customer’s problem. To do this, your agents have to make customer experience their top priority.
If your script empowers your agents to actually solve the customer’s problem, your quality score numbers will go way up. The goal should be for your agents to put themselves in the customer’s shoes to actually provide the solution they need.
13. Allow for Growth
Situations are going to arise when the script does not cover a situation. If this is a one-off, a good agent can improvise and move on. But when multiple customers experience the same thing—and your script does not cover it—it is time to develop new scripting.
A good agent is flexible. A good call center manager knows when to update the script. The script is always a work in progress. There will never be a time when it is “complete.”
Just as agents need to be able to adapt, the script does as well. You should allow for the growth of your people and your stock responses. One call center script best practice is to adjust your script to integrate the practices of your top performing agents.
14. Review the Competition
What are your competitors doing? How do their call center scripts compare to yours? This is important to know to make sure that you are on par or exceeding the customer experiences that are expected within your industry.
Don’t be afraid to call up a competitor and speak with their agents to see how they handle problems and what their scripts sound like. You might quickly come up with a few ideas for improvement.
15. Track the Success of Your Call Center Scripts
Last, but certainly not least, track the quality and success of your call center scripts on a regular basis. Once you’ve developed an effective script, you can’t just set it and forget it. You need to consistently review your quality scores, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and agent feedback to ensure that everything is working as it should.
Your call center script should always be a work in progress that adapts to your needs and the needs of your customers. Software like Scorebuddy offers a powerful and effective way to continually monitor the quality of your interactions. It’s easy to evaluate phone calls, emails, chat, social media responses, and complaint handling, all in one place.
Scorebuddy’s intuitive scorecards can be set up to dig deep into every customer interaction and define a strategic call center QA framework. You can carry out root-cause analysis, identify common pitfalls, broken processes, and training gaps. You can even highlight agents doing a great job following their scripts or going off-script and getting better results.
And because Scorebuddy gives each agent their own dashboard, they can check their quality scores daily and review coaching tips that will help them continually improve every customer experience. The key is to empower your call center with data to continually improve the customer experience.