Contact centers exist to support customers. Yet today, there is a strong disconnect between the quality of customer support that companies think they are providing and the quality of customer services that customers report they are getting. Many contact centers simply don’t know what they’re doing wrong. They answer calls promptly, they train their agents and they make all the information needed available to those agents.
For some contact centers, the answers may lie in the scripts. Most contact centers use scripts to some extent to ensure that agents are hitting all the points they need to. High turnover in the industry often means that newbie agents are taking calls, and they often feel more comfortable with scripts…or so the conventional wisdom goes. So the customer calls, and the agents embarks on a scripted response. This may be precisely what’s putting customers off, however.
“It’s that kind of stiff, robotic, ‘I have been told to say this and I’m going to say it’ behavior that just makes the angry or unsatisfied or frustrated customer go off the deep end,” call center industry advisor Gail Goodman told Hello Operator blogger Craig Borowski.
When scripts are stiff and strict, customers feel like they’re speaking to a machine and not to a human being. It removes some of the concerned human touch that makes a customer interaction successful.
Hello Customer conducted an informal customer survey of 500 American adults to determine how they feel about scripted call center interactions. Sixty-nine percent of them reported that dislike speaking with call center agents who sound like they’re reading from scripts, and that it makes the quality of the customer interaction worse. More than half of respondents -- 51 percent -- said it improves the call experience either “a lot” or “tremendously” when the agent doesn’t sound like he or she is reading from a script.
Training an agent to utter the words, “I understand how frustrated you are” may, in fact, have just the opposite effect. When it sounds scripted, it sound insincere, and may cause the customer interaction to head south.
The answer may be to give agents more autonomy in calls. Not only will it allow them to sound more like human beings instead of robots, it will provide agents with more job satisfaction in that they feel less like a cog in a machine and more like a professional using skills to solve problems, which may actually improve agent retention rates.