9 Best Practices for Delivering an Authentic Call Center Script
One way or another, the great majority of customer service reps are going to utilize a script on a few, some, or perhaps all of their calls. However, the last thing any of us wants when we call a customer service department is an agent who recites a script like a robot. Heck, even Siri and Alexa manage to sound like real people (sort of), and they are robots! Fortunately, it is quite possible to follow a script and also sound authentic and friendly.
Here are some best practices to help agents deliver that authentic customer experience.
1. Be Careful with Your Word Selection
It is easy to inadvertently use negative words, even when trying to convey a positive. The first call center script best practice is to reduce this risk by using the right words. Your caller may simply have a question, so do not assume the worst.
Instead of asking, "What is the problem," try asking something like, "How may I help you?"
There are a few phrases that are guaranteed to make your caller unhappy. “Calm down” is one of them. If a customer is angry, that is only a symptom, not the reason for their call. Calmly explain you are there to help them find a solution. Then, repeat their complaint or comment, to show that you heard them and that you heard correctly.
Instead of: "Wow! That should not have happened," say, "I certainly understand how that can be frustrating. Let’s see how we can fix that."
If you cannot provide the fix they want, tell them what you can do.
Instead of “That is against company policy,” (another negative phrase that might anger customers) try, “I can offer you X or Y.” And if alternatives are available, ask which they would prefer. That lets the customer feel they are in control of their solution.
Instead of: “I don’t know,” or “that is not my department,” say: “Let me find out for you,” or “Let me connect you with a specialist on that.”
2. Use Positive Adverbs
Positive phrases are inherently encouraging. Including adverbs highlights those positives, for example:
Certain words energize the conversation, further engaging customers and reinforcing their expectation of a positive outcome:
3. Practice Delivering the Script Until it Feels Comfortable
Some scripts need to be read word-for-word. It may be a necessity to avoid confusion, to handle complex info, to cover legal requirements, etc. Those situations aside, mostly we try to ensure that agents are able to deliver the script in their own words. After all, the goal is to make specific points and follow specific best practices, right? Verbatim or not, the best way to come across as sincere and engaged with customers is to practice the delivery so that tone of voice, pacing, and word emphasis all sound natural.
4. Practice Active Listening
From the customer’s standpoint, this call is all about them. And the best way to help the customer is to practice active listening. When practicing active listening, paraphrase what they say. This is an art form that is difficult to learn, but very valuable in establishing a positive connection with customers. When an agent repeats back what the customer said, but in their own words, it shows they are listening. They get it. Now we are ready to make the sale or resolve the issue.
5. Listen to the Customer’s Tone and Try to Match it
If the customer is upbeat and casual, they might appreciate a little humor. If they are formal, they probably expect formality in return. (Do not act cold or disengaged, though.) If they are unhappy, it’s time for empathy, understanding, and reassurance that a resolution is near.
6. Personalize Calls By Using the Customer’s Name
It is great to personalize the call, but do not overdo it, because that sounds fakey — we do not constantly insert someone’s name in real-life conversations. Also, be aware that not every caller wants you to use their name. Not sure? Ask, "May I call you Mary, or would you prefer Ms. Smith?"
Agents may not be visible to callers, but smiling is a well-known technique for brightening one's tone of voice. And smiling is infectious. Smile at one another when walking around the call center, when standing to see over partitions, and during breaks, too. This builds a culture of friendliness that will positively affect calls. Smiling before answering can also help an agent who has just completed a difficult conversation and may not feel as upbeat as they should be for the next customer.
8. Stand Up While Speaking
Stretch, do some neck rolls, or even jog in place between calls. Every call is different for agents, and using a paraphrased script requires adapting to each customer. It is easier for agents using a paraphrased script to feel engaged and valuable than it is for reps whose days are filled with repetitive verbatim scripts. But sitting is sluggish. It takes its toll on attitude as well as personal health. Getting the blood flowing gets minds and personalities flowing, too.
9. “Thank You,” Says it All
Every customer who calls is making an overt effort to engage, for a reason. Being positive can help you immediately establish rapport with customers — letting them know that they and their issue are both important and that your goal is to help them find the best possible solution.
When you do, that excellent experience can turn even the most frustrated customers into loyalists. You not only listened, you acted on what you heard. Thanking callers for their comment, or for allowing you to help them, caps off their experience on the highest note.
There is No "Special Sauce" for Script Delivery
There is no special sauce when it comes to delivering an authentic call center script. What it takes is practice, practice, practice to understand the script’s messaging, paraphrase it naturally, and actively listen to the customer.
Work with your agents, record calls, play them back, look for creative ideas that will help ensure the agent is upbeat, on task, and delivering high quality service. And when you work with your agents on scripting and script flow, make it fun and an engaging learning experience, because that will come out in their interactions with their customers.