The debate over call-center scripts continues to rage, with individuals defending and disparaging the use of predetermined dialogue. Nevertheless, most people agree that at the very least, a script can help agents in sticky situations. "A script is always important as it is the foundation of any good dialogue. Have you ever heard of a great movie that did not have a script?" said Matthew Koenig, sales and marketing consultant with MD&E Inc., a consulting firm specializing in business-information management strategy.
"However, a script is just a guideline and not a substitution for great people, great training , appropriate culture and proper processes which allow for some flexibility based on the issue at hand," he added.
To craft the perfect script, you must focus on three essential components: writing, formatting and content.
Make sure your script has the appropriate tone for the situation, and doesn't sound like the agent is reading a textbook. "Most people who write scripts are good writers and write them in ‘good written English' as opposed to ‘good spoken English.' And when delivered they will almost always sound ‘read,' and we know what a disaster that is," said Flyn Penoyer, telesales guru at Penoyer Communications .
Your script should also be snappy and to-the-point to maintain customer interest. Get to the heart of the matter quickly and be sure that your agents aren't making speeches. "The client does not care to know why something happened — although triage and root-cause analysis is important ... what are you going to do to fix their problem now?" said Koenig.
Next is the issue of formatting. "Most scripts are formatted in a way that doesn't provide for easy delivery — in fact, it promotes reading. Unless you know how to format a script properly you will likely have problems," said Penoyer.
Write the script in short paragraphs that can be read quickly. Include bullet points so that the call agent can hit all the important facts without reading a word-for-word response to the customer.
Script content must also be carefully revised and constantly updated. "The biggest mistake in script content is the lack of interactivity. They tend to be speeches that leave little room for — or interest in — customer response," said Penoyer.
To ensure your script expertly fits the interaction, review it often in the context of actual use. "This can be stored in the audio format, which later can be handed over to a knowledge-management team or to a knowledge-management consultant, who will extract the nuances of the conversations and prepare a generic winning script pattern," said Sreejith Unnikrishnan Nair, knowledge analyst for Logica PLC (formerly Logicacmg), a U.K. company with services and solutions in applications management, business-process outsourcing, consulting, ERP and a host of other services.
Audio reviews of actual interactions can also help you perfect script delivery. "Script delivery is about communication skills ... and this is the one thing nobody every bothers to teach salespeople, even though it is the fundamental basic of all selling!" emphasized Penoyer.
In the end, the perfect script is one that allows for appropriate response to any given customer interaction and prompts the call agent to stay consistent with the company message. Remember, you're dealing with people on both ends of the call, and sales and customer retention never happen by accident.
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