The best solution, really, to improving customer interaction with the call center is to have agents who are up to the task of having natural conversations. That's the advice our sources provided when asked to suggest ways to perfect call center scripts.
Coach the customer service representatives (CSR) so they can speak knowledgably and responsively to customers' concerns without the aid of scripts, says Alex Falcone, director of customer relationship marketing, customer experience management and direct marketing for Houston-based marketing agency Lopez Negrete Communications.
"There's an art to handling calls effectively, and it's more than simply saying the right words and checking them off," Falcone says. "It has to do with interpersonal skills, the ability to listen, and knowing how to respond to subtle clues in a customer's manner or tone of voice to meet their greatest emotional need—the need to be treated as someone special and unique."
Providing ways to do that are Falcone; Terry Arnold, vice president of contact center solutions for San Antonio, Texas-based direct marketing services company Harte-Hanks; and Sanjay Patel, CEO of Winter Springs, Fla.-based call center analytics provider Datanautix.
1. Use scripts to coach talented reps. Falcone says, "We recommend using scripts only to help a qualified CSR transfer product and service knowledge by memorizing a message in a non-scripted and natural way." He adds that the reps should then abandon the scripts and develop their own, persuasive message deliveries so that they don't use bored monotones or otherwise sound insincere.
2. Have CSRs determine customer needs immediately. "Stop the call if the needs cannot be identified," Patel says.
While most companies measure "success" by close rates, Patel says it's important to include the number of unqualified prospects in that calculation. That way, call centers aren't alienating customers by offering them products that they don't need.