When I was younger, I used to be very phone-shy. It weirded me out to speak to people I didn’t know without being able to see their faces or respond to their body language. So, to take the panic out of phone-based interactions, I would practice what I was going to say when the person I was calling picked up. I even went so far as to write it down, even if I was just calling the pizza delivery guy.
It didn’t stop with my socially awkward childhood. To be honest, I wrote down my current voicemail message before recording it. Go on, laugh. Haha. I’m still much better at face-to-face interactions than I am over the phone, but I find phone-based interaction easier with a little help and preparation.
Contact centers use call scripts for a reason. You want your contact center agents to sound polished and professional whether they are receiving inbound support and service calls, or making outbound calls to prospective leads or current customers. You also want them to sound uniform, so that no matter why or when they are interacting with customers, the customers will receive the same level of customer service.
Call scripts are incredibly useful for improving the performance of call center agents, if they are used correctly. Even if they’re not an introvert, having a basic script for an agent to base their responses off will come in incredibly useful. It also ensures that they won’t forget crucial information that needs to be departed to the customer. Here’s my advice for creating the best scripts for your call or contact center.
Customize your call scripts.
You may want your agents to have a uniform voice and tone when engaging with customers, but you also want those customers to have a personalized customer experience. Make sure that your contact center software allows for unlimited customization of call scripts, so that your agents can easily respond to customers' needs, no matter why they are calling.
Make sure that your custom call scripts also have all the vital information your agent and their customer would need. Your agent’s name, their department, your company name, and any company contact information that your agent might need to give out to assist the customer. It helps to have that on hand, even if the agent chooses not to rely on it.
Make sure that agents introduce themselves and your company at the beginning of each script. Customers will feel reassured that they are speaking to a real person and not just some random person’s voice. Giving a name to the voice they are hearing in their telephone speaker is the first step in building a relationship with that customer. And, for an introvert like myself, hearing your company’s name is a reassurance that I didn’t goof up and dial a wrong number.
For customer service or technical support, try “Hi, you’ve reached the 3CLogic support line. This is Madeleine. How can I help you?”
Or for sales, “Hi, my name is Madeleine and I’m calling on behalf of 3CLogic. I’d love to speak to someone at your company about our cloud-based contact center solution.”
Bonus: For sales or outbound dialing, if you have a contact name, go ahead and use their first name when you call in. There have been studies that say using someone’s first name often in conversation familiarizes and comforts the person you are talking to instantly.
Keep it Short and Sweet.
The longer your agent talks at the beginning of the call, the more of a chance a customer has to slam down the phone. Make sure that you engage the customer right off the bat.
For sales, rather than launching into a long pitch about your product or service, ask questions and listen to the customer’s responses to determine whether what you are selling will be useful to them.
For customer service and support, the customer who is calling in will want to talk about their problem. Don’t interrupt them until they are done speaking, even if you figure out how to solve their problem halfway through. “Mmhmm” and “okay” or “yes” are acceptable to confirm that you are listening throughout their speech.
Don’t Try to Do Too Much.
Scripts are the most useful for beginner agents. Create a simple script and if that agent cannot handle the issue without the script, then they should send that call to a more experienced or department-specific agent. Create specific call scripts for each department and scenario to avoid having agents who are unprepared for a customer’s call. Experienced agents will also be better able to adapt and go “off-script”. Remember, call scripts are a tool of the trade, not the point of the call itself.
Train your agents with mini-scripts, which are sort of like those choose-your-own-adventure books. Mini scripts give employees possible directions to take the call. Exact responses are a sure giveaway that your employees have no idea what they’re talking about and will make them sound like robots, which definitely dehumanizes the voice at the other end of your customer’s call.
Monitor the Customer Experience
Beyond the script, you also want contact center software that will provide end results and categories for the call, for your CRM system. Call recording for agent training and quality assurance is also an incredibly useful tool! You will want to have that on hand in case the customer calls in again, so that the next agent who speaks to that customer will know about any past interactions.
If you can’t understand a customer’s name, ask them to “spell it out to confirm them in your system." They won’t get offended because you aren’t sure whether they said Tim or Tom and call them by the wrong name, or if you can’t pronounce a cultural-specific name. Plus, everyone likes to talk about themselves. It also avoids the issue of customers who are insistent that their name is Kaitlyn with a “K” and not Caitlyn with a “C” or Catelyn or Katherine.