As someone who has made a career out of analyzing business and social trends, demographer Bernard Salt has an opinion worth listening to. He has written several books, delivered countless keynote speeches, advised multiple industry leaders and even earned himself the title of ‘Futurist’.
To put it simply, when Bernard Salt speaks, people listen and such was the case when he used one of his two weekly columns in Australia’s biggest national newspaper to express the frustration he and so many others feel when they phone a business and never get the chance to talk to a human being.
“If this institution is so focused on customer service, as the promos say it is, why is it so hard to speak to someone about my problem?” he wrote. “I get the feeling you don’t want me, or any other customer, to call for help. I get the feeling that in your perfect world, there would be no interaction with customers while you complete your transformation into a ‘service delivery platform’.”
Salt is not alone. Research, summarised on Customer Contact Central, has found that consumers overwhelmingly prefer using the phone as their primary channel to contact suppliers, with 45% of survey respondents opting to dial a number as opposed to email (13%), interact via websites (12%) and use online chat (10%).
Of course there is no secret why some businesses would prefer to have machines rather than people answering their phones. Operating a contact center can be an expensive exercise but there clearly needs to be a balance between the desire to cut costs via automation and the risk of lowering customer satisfaction levels due to frustrations such as those expressed by Salt.
There is another way though, an opportunity to not only employ people to answer phone calls but ensure their time is spent productively and delivers a positive customer experience. The key to such success? Developing a winning call center script.
According to respected advisory group Gartner, customer experience – aka CX – is the new marketing battlefront. Defined as a consumer’s perception of how a company treats them, CX done well will likely lead to brand loyalty, positive word of mouth and the promise of return business. Conversely, negative CX often leads to a customer never being seen again and telling their associates exactly why that is the case. Research has shown that customer experience has overtaken both price and product as the key to not only attracting but keeping business in 2021.
These facts reinforce the vital role quality call center scripts can play in the modern workforce. As pre-written guides for customer interactions, scripts are designed to help phone operators provide correct information to customers as quickly as possible. They are also able to boost rapport and agent effectiveness, which in turn can result in lower return calls and fewer customer complaints. Needless to say, all of these factors contribute to positive CX.
Rather than leaving conversations to chance, providing operators a script or framework for handling calls can deliver benefits including:
Creating a call center script requires more than just the ability to write a few good sentences. A knowledge of the product or service being discussed is crucial, along with insights into difficult situations that may present themselves during the course of a call. When crafting a call center script, one should generally look to:
It is also important to recognize there is a distinction in scripts relating to inbound calls, outbound calls or complaints.
When someone phones a business, they are usually hoping for several things, but first and foremost they want their issue or concern addressed as quickly as possible. People also expect to have a comfortable communication experience, with warning bells certain to alarm if it feels like they are on the receiving end of a script rather than a seamless dialogue.
When creating an inbound call script, businesses should consider what they are hoping to achieve during the call including:
While each inbound call script will be unique, there are several ground rules to consider including:
While many of above tips are transferrable to outbound calls, there are a few unique considerations such as:
There is a reason so many people are familiar with the expression ‘the customer is always right’ – it’s the truth. Complaint calls can be difficult to navigate – especially if the caller is being unreasonable – but the last thing they want (or need) to be told is that they’re wrong.
Creating a definitive script for complaint calls is difficult given businesses cannot always predict why a customer is upset. That said, they should be based on common themes of understanding, empathy and reassurance so the customer believes their call is important and their complaint is being heard.
While specific language can be used in a script to address issues such as poor or slow service, overpricing or inadequate information, the common factor in all cases is to ensure the customer feels right. Rather than argue about the facts, the focus should be on assuring them their concerns are the business’s concerns.
Offshore call centers in outsourcing hubs such as the Philippines have a long history of allowing businesses to bank significant cost savings while delivering increased efficiencies. The lower cost of living alone means that smart organizations can assemble an entire team of people that collectively operate 24/7 for 70% less than staff members working a standard 40-hour week onshore.
Better still, the likes of the Philippines is home to a huge talent pool of experienced call center workers who are native English speakers and boast excellent written English. Coupled with a culture based on politeness, hospitality and respect, it’s little wonder the Philippines had the most call centers in the world as recently as 2018.
Outsourcing companies are experts at building call center teams to suit businesses of all shapes and sizes. Under the leadership of a Contact Center Operations Manager, offshore teams are assembled based on individual needs and are able to easily scale up or down as business priorities change.
A typical contact center team with a headcount of 60-100 employees would include the following positions:
Needless to say, smaller teams are always an option for start-ups or fledgling organizations, with a host of excellent candidates ready to work with quality call center scripts or frameworks.
Enhance your customer experience by using this simple and effective call center framework to develop a conversation that works for your business.
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