10 Call-Center Script Mistakes to Avoid

Updated: April 30, 2009

To script or not to script - that is the burning call-center question. While there are roughly an equal number of proponents and detractors on both sides of the issue, most agree that if you are going to use a script, you need to execute it well or you risk losing customers.

"Everything you watch at the movies and most of TV is totally and absolutely scripted, and it is far from awful. Well some of it is, but that's content and a different subject," said telesales expert Flyn Penoyer of Penoyer Communications , a sales-management consulting company.

Why Not Use a Script?

If content and scripting are two different components, and your content is good, then what can go wrong with your script? "The biggest error in scripts is actually first the writing, and second the formatting," said Penoyer. "Skip any tendency to make a speech in the script."

And if the writing and the formatting are up to snuff and the script considered "perfect," then it should be used all the time, right? Wrong. "Scripts are helpful in the initial phases when a person joins the company. But in the long-run, the employee should use his/her experience, presence of mind, and business knowledge to handle the issue," said Sailaja Sivalenka, regional sales manager for Aspire Systems in Chennai, India.

Mistakes to Avoid

As shown above, a script is more of a guide than a dictate. Many call centers make script errors which result in repeating mistakes. Here are 10 tips to avoid common errors call centers encounter when writing scripts:

1. Avoid formatting the script in long paragraphs that promote mechanical reading.

2. Omit irrelevant information.

3. Avoid accepting any limitation or fault on your side immediately.

4. Avoid "blaming" or criticizing the customer from the outset.

5. Don't talk to the point; you need to proactively build relationships with customers to generate more business.

6. Don't forget to include a proper follow-up plan . Without follow-through, your customers' frustrations will quickly escalate to permanent anger.

7. Don't require a full agent script, because it can diminish the customer rapport.

8. Avoid a long greeting or closing. Customers hear enough about who they're calling in the IVR (interactive voice response), so make greetings short and simple - identify the brand, yourself and get down to business.

9. Don't require inflated cheerfulness or an overly polite tone. Saying please and thank you is customary, but requiring it after every request annoys many customers.

10. Don't repeat the same questions. If a question was asked on a previous contact or in the IVR, don't ask it again. That applies to verification, phone numbers or anything that should have been captured in the first contact. Leverage your CRM application , automatic-number ID pop-ups, softphone capabilities and any previous data stored.

Last, but certainly not least, consider timing. "Don't measure on calls per hour or minutes per call — you're just setting yourself up for bad customer service," said Jacques Pavlenyi, segment executive of communications industries for a major IT vendor. "Instead, measure on key performance metrics that are aligned to your strategy."

Featured Research
  • 7 Ways the Wrong Phone System Can Haunt Your Business

    The wrong phone system could be haunting your business - and we’re talking about problems more serious than ghosts and ghouls. From increased costs to issues with scaling, we’ve identified seven important ways that a less than ideal phone system could be holding you back. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this can make to your bottom line too. more

  • Ditch Your Fax Servers

    An in-house fax server gives an IT department centralized management and monitoring over the entire enterprise's faxing. This can help your company track usage and better maintain records for auditing and record keeping. However, there are serious drawbacks that come with utilizing an in-house fax server solution and these range from security to cost-prohibitive pricing. more

  • The IT Manager's Survival Guide

    As an IT manager, maintaining physical fax servers and infrastructure is not a high priority. However, fax capability remains a business need simply because chances are your industry is dependent on its security. What if there was a way to reduce the amount of time spent handling fax complaints and maintaining physical servers? And this way took into account security, cost savings, and freed up your IT resources. Would you be interested? more

  • VoIP: Your New Secret Weapon for a Strong Year End

    As the end of 2017 nears, you may be feeling pressure to make sure you close the year out strong.If you’ve been sitting on the fence regarding VoIP, this may be the perfect time to switch. VoIP options had never been better or more full-featured than they are now, and it may be just the thing your business needs to see a productivity and profitability boost. more

  • Is Your Phone System Stealing Profits?

    Having the wrong phone system can dramatically cut into your profits. Despite this, many businesses just sign up for a plan or platform that seems ‘good enough’. If you haven’t carefully considered your options and the included features, there’s a very good chance that you are leaving money on the table in some way. more