The other day I had to call my cable company for a fairly simple question about my bill. While the interaction went well, it was obvious that my customer service representative was reading from a script. She spoke in a rushed monotone, clearly reciting words she’d already said a thousand times that day. We went through the usual spiel:
“This call may be recorded.”
“We thank you for being a Company X Customer and blah blah blah.”
“Would you like this upsell? That upsell? All the upsells?”
This got me thinking. At Team Support we live and breathe customer service, but even people who don’t work in support instantly recognize a CSR armed with a script. And for the most part, we all hate scripts. Forcing a CSR to stick to canned responses is supposed to help them deal with high volumes of calls with appropriate response, but it doesn’t work. At their very worst, scripts are a cost cutting measure, meant to substitute for thoroughly training a CSR about a company’s product or service. They allow a company to install a low-paid employee on their customer support front lines. But is that really wise?
Too often, even partial scripts only succeed to create a wooden, unsatisfying customer service experience where everyone comes away frustrated. In the worst case scenario, a customer is unsatisfied, drops your company and complains on social media about poor customer service. A little script can cause a big problem.
How to Flip the Customer Service Script
The number one way to kill the whole customer service script for good is to invest in people.
Train your CSR’s in your product. Steep them in your company culture. Make sure they master the skills of really listening and of overcoming common objections. Be sure they know the answers to common customer complaints, and if they don’t, ensure that they know how to help your customers by finding the answers they need. I guarantee you that most customers want to work with a rep who talks to them, not at them with a scripted response.
Your bottom line will thank you, too. Customers will be less likely to complain or leave your company. And when customer service reps are better trained, more autonomous, and not stuck spitting out scripted lines, they’ll be happier and stick around too.
When to Keep the Script
That’s not to say that all customer service scripts are bad. If calls are going to be recorded for training purposes, then you most definitely need to convey that to each caller. The same goes for information that doesn’t change, like hours, warranty information, or a return policy.
Scripts can also be used for branding purposes. Does your company have a tagline? Customer service reps can insert your tagline into their greeting (“Thank you for calling Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. If there’s a delay, it’s you we’ll pay.”) or as they tell the caller goodbye.
Ditching scripts can be daunting at first. But if you give your reps the autonomy and trust to really speak to your customers, you’ll find that they genuinely respond to your company. And you just can’t script that.