Let’s face it: Today’s customers are busy and, when they encounter problems, they want them resolved quickly. Oftentimes, by the time they reach a live agent they may have already been through several minutes of automated answering machines, and they’re frustrated and irritated before the call even begins.
So what can call center agents do to ensure they’re handling customer concerns as swiftly and efficiently as possible? One solution is to make every attempt to sound like a real person (instead of a robot). Here’s how to do it:
1. Be Personal:
Historically, companies have relied on static scripting (i.e., when agents read verbatim from a script and follow predetermined steps) for resolving customer issues, noted a Smart Customer Service article on call scripting. However, recent research from Software Advice, a company that offers help desk software reviews, shows that the majority (69%) of survey respondents say their customer service experience improves dramatically when agents don’t sound like they’re reading from a script.
The article notes, however, that the benefits of dynamic scripting (in which scripts are adjusted based on the reaction or response of the customer) can far outweigh the perceived safety net that static scripting provides. “By allowing an agent to provide a personalized, off-the-script experience, customers actually have more confidence in a company and its products and services,” says Mike Pell, director of design services at Interactions Corp., in the article. “Interjecting some of an agent’s personality into an interaction can boost a caller’s faith and make him feel as if he is talking to someone who knows what she’s doing.”
2. Be Empathetic:
One of the best ways for agents to establish a connection with customers is to demonstrate that they truly care about their concerns and are committed to resolving them. Another way to think about this is for agents to put themselves in their customers’ shoes: What really matters to them? What do they want? What are their pain points and how can they best be addressed?
Gemma Harding, Head of Client Services at CallCare, says in a Call Centre Helper article on call center scripting that “agents should be hired on the basis of their empathy, engagement, listening, and problem-solving skills. Forcing them to stick to a script limits the chance for them to shine at what they’re good at.”
3. Be Flexible:
Harding also notes that forcing customer service agents to adhere to the company script can prevent them from being flexible in responding to individual customer complaints and resolving issues. In other words, focusing on the script can take away from the agent’s ability to effectively listen to the customer’s concerns.
The recent Comcast customer service nightmare is a good example of when it might have been advisable to stray from the call center script and address the individual customer issue. While the call center agent may have been trained by Comcast to avoid letting customers cancel their subscriptions, it nonetheless reinforces the fact that flexibility may have helped effectively resolve the issue – and avoid the ensuing backlash.
While scripting does have its place in the call center environment, industry experts agree that achieving customer satisfaction, as well as considering their needs and exercising a certain degree of flexibility in addressing customer concerns can be beneficial to the customer experience and the reputation of the company overall. After all, no one likes to feel like they’re speaking to a robot! Additionally, following first call resolution best practices can also help produce happier customers.
Image Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Menno van Dijk