To Script, or Not to Script Your Agents? Speech Analytics Helps You Get to the Answer.


Share on LinkedIn

The use of scripts in call centers is often debated. On the one hand, they are beneficial to the agents, especially new ones, and they help quickly troubleshoot and solve a customer’s problem. However, most customers say they hate call center scripts. More specifically, they hate when an agent is obviously using a script. In a recent survey, 69% of respondents felt customer service was better when agents did not sound like they were reading from a script, and 51% felt it improved the call experience “a lot” or “tremendously”. But if their problems are (hopefully) being solved, then what does it matter how the agent sounds?

Do They Really Care?
Many times with call centers, customers must go through a number of automated systems before they reach a live person. But when agents start to read from a script verbatim, they come across as stilted and mechanical, making them sound no better than another machine. As a result, agents sound apathetic to the customers’ problems, causing the customers to not only doubt the agents’ sincerity in wanting to help them, but also their desire to find the best solution. This doesn’t mean that agents shouldn’t try to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, but customers should not be made to feel like something in a call center assembly line.

Can They Really Help?
Another problem is that agents who use a script too much tend to come across as uninformed, causing the customer to question their ability to help them. If an agent sounds as though they only know how to answer the questions in their script, the customer is less likely to think they will be able to assist them when they ask an unscripted question. It is especially frustrating for customers who are trying to get clarification on an issue, and instead just keep getting the same scripted response ad nauseam. If the customer doesn’t believe the agent really understands their problem, how can they trust them to fix it?
So does this mean a call center should forego scripts entirely? Not necessarily. As stated before, scripts do have their benefits. But with any other tool, the effectiveness of a script lies in how it is used.

Practice, Practice, Practice!
One way call centers can improve the way their agents sound is to invest in some extra training. While newer agents can be expected to rely a little more on a script, it should not be used forever. Instead, they (and all agents) should be encouraged to familiarize themselves with the script and practice so they become more comfortable with it, making their answers sound and feel more natural to them. As they gain more experience, they should be able to take calls without needing to have the script right in front of them at all times. Also, take the time to make sure your agents have a comprehensive understanding about your company and its product/services, which will increase their ability to answer any unexpected questions that might come up. This will help boost your agents’ knowledge and confidence in their abilities, which will show when they speak with the customer. If you trust your agents, your customers will, too.

More Flexibility
Another way call center agents can sound less robotic over the phone is to not have every single piece of dialogue written out for them. Instead, give agents guidelines to help steer them to the correct response without telling them exactly what to say. This is known as “Best Practice” – it presents the ideal way of handling each type of call, but allows the agent more latitude to adjust the script as needed for the situation. If your industry is highly regulated and certain things must be said for legal purposes, then you can highlight those key metrics for the agent. But more conversational items should be more flexible. Take apologies: Imagine if you were speaking to a customer service representative face to face about a complaint. If they apologized like this: “Thank you, sir/ma’am. I do apologize for the inconvenience. Our customers’ satisfaction is very important to us”, you might start looking for the on/off switch on the back of their necks. But if their apology sounded less artificial, you would be more likely to feel that it was genuine, and that they really do want to help you. The same thing applies to apologizing over the phone. Allowing an agent to use their own words and inject a little of their personality into the conversation makes them feel (and sound) more connected to what they are saying, and will sound more empathetic to the customer.

Remember to review your script regularly and make any changes, as needed. Tools such as speech analytics can make it easier for you to see which parts may not be working. But by finding the balance between incorporating scripts in your call center and empowering your agents, you can help your customers have a much more pleasant experience.

Jeanne Landau
Jeanne Landau has 10+ years of experience leading the public relations, social media and content marketing programs for 800response and CallFinder, delivering telecommunications solutions and cloud-based marketing technology tools including call recording, speech analytics, advanced call routing platforms, call tracking metrics, and vanity 800 toll-free services.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here