Call Center Scripting: How to Suffocate Your Organization



Tripp Babbitt
08/13/2013

From time to time, I visit the Consumerist website and find the occasional jewel. A recent article - Some Best Buy Customer Service Reps Not Thrilled with Having to Stick to the Script- displays a contact center rep’s frustration at having to use scripts with customers.

Unfortunately, scripts have become the norm in contact centers. Legalese and overzealous management and support folks are the culprits. I don't find too many reps asking to be scripted. It is the Neo-Tayloristic mindset of controlling the reps and inspecting for compliance.

I doubt that the folks that implement such thinking have ever spoken with a customer using the script they write; if they had, they would understand the frustration. This is the epitome of a inside-out and top-down perspective. Using scripts is like texting and driving . . . your attention is on the script and not the customer. Just as there are consequences for texting and driving so will there be consequences to organizations that unwisely use scripts.

Verifications (too) are a close relation to scripts. I have seen many banks that have asked their reps to verify a customer as step one. However, often the customer just wants to know bank hours or the latest interest rates. When customers are asked to verify themselves - it seems silly . . . and it is. Reps are forced to comply to pass the compliance and management muster.

Another form of scripting is the IVR menu. Again, a poor source of absorbing the variety of customer demands. With all the statistical data, management has a hard time coming up with data on how many times are routed to the wrong function by wrong choice in the IVR shell game. Worse, they lack data on whether the customer was able to satisfy their demand or solve their problem.

Are scripts always damaging? Of course not…when reps ask for them to help facilitate their work.

But I rarely find this to be the case. Usually, you have the management and support fascists dictating scripts. Rarely will you have a rep ask for something that they know will make the person on the other end of the line uncomfortable or mystified. No, these are uninformed dictates from the hierarchy.

Some organizations have 100s of scripts for reps to navigate with a fundamental belief that a good rep is a scripted rep. But when customer demands start to pour in, reps find that scripts don't always fit the demand being placed on them. It might take script #44, #162 and a little of #217 to fits what the customer wants. Then management wants to know why their AHT is so high. [Note: AHTis still a poor measure (except for planning) for improvement, but it does display how a focus on reducing costs increases them.]

Instead of a brigade of the inspection regime to write and seek compliance to scripts - both costly measures - a better method would be to embrace the customer demand. Embrace the demand by listening and satisfying it completely. Few, if any, scripts are needed. Costs go down and customer satisfaction up. Counter-intuitive? . . . yes! Crucial to service? Absolutely. Just a little air, please.

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