Save the Scripts for the Movies

Tripp Babbitt

I like a good movie and this year has had its share. Great lines often lead to academy awards. But for customers calling in for service or sales nothing is more annoying than the scripts they encounter from the IVR system and then the agent.

In efforts to give customers consistent responses, avoid law suits and attempt to "inspect-in quality" contact centers love their scripts . . . and government entities are the worse. What customers want is a knowledgeable agent that can help them, not a maze of legalese and standard responses to navigate.

Scripts are born less from necessity and more from manufacturing. In attempts to standardize (like manufacturing) contact center scripts are written for agents. This is followed by the inspection of agents for compliance.

For customers they have to deal with the IVR and technology requires standardization. The menu of options is sometimes daunting as customers try to say the right thing or push the right button. Frustration mounts as branch after branch of scripts are deciphered by the customer hoping they said or pushed the right thing.

When customers don’t get the answers they seek, they call back or go somewhere else . . . both are costly. Unfortunately, this is hard to measure and doesn’t show up in the visible costs most contact centers are managed by. However, those invisible costs take away value from the company.

For agent scripts, it’s the same thing. Too many times do customers call and can’t get a question answered or problem fixed. The scripts complicate things as the variety of customer demands can’t be absorbed. Service has great variety of customer demands from customers . . . manufacturing . . . not so much.

One metric that can be used to understand how well your contact center absorbs variety is failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer). When collecting data for such a measure, I find that failure demand can be traced back to scripting. But don’t believe me, listen to the calls yourself and see how many calls you get that create unwanted customer demands.

After all, "What we’ve got here . . . is a failure to communicate."