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Ashutosh Sharma    

Benefits of Agent Scripting

Agent Scripting provides guidance to the agent on what to do in different scenarios for every step of the call. It is accomplished by a tool that agents use while on the call and click through as they move from one step of the call to the next. Scripts provide consistency across agents, compliance and efficiency on the call.

Call scripts reduce the reliance on agent retained knowledge. Agents need to balance politeness, courtesy, ensure correct verification and also providing the correct resolution to the customer on the call. Scripting makes life easier for agents as they can focus on the customer connect without needing to remember the approved compliant process for each scenario. Scripts can be indicative or prescriptive. In some cases, agents can use their own language while the script only provides them pointers, in other cases, agent may need to read out a script verbatim - like disclaimers or disclosure statements.

Dynamic scripts allow agents to do the correct level of verification or upsell at the right point in the call. The customers get the the resolution in the shortest time without the agent having to look up any lists or information from separate sources or knowledge base. Intelligent and logic-based scripts also prompt agent to do the right product upsell to the right customers at the right time.

Outbound sales and follow up centers use scripts to enable consistent objection handling, pitching in an effective manner and avoid un-intentional mis-selling. The best part is that using a tool enables enormous amounts of data including a detailed view of where the sales get blocked, objection reason percentages across the sales team, which are extremely useful in improving the sales process using data.

Scripts are usually associated with call center agents, however interactive scripts are equally, if not more effective for back office and field service agents. It helps agents follow a consistent, efficient process and reduces process error or failures. Supported by a workflow, items can also be moved to specialist queues providing complete process control and getting the right resources to work on the right actions.

In summary, scripts can be really effective if made well and if the interface is easy for agents to follow. If not implemented well, agents stop using it consistently. Scripts should make agents job easier and should not become another thing that needs to be done on the call. The wealth of data they generate on the process is helpful in understanding what the customers call for, how much time it takes for each different scenario to resolve and the variance between agents on different call types. This detailed data enables digital transformation not just of customer experience, but also for product improvements and feature enhancements.

How is Scripting Implemented?

Historically, call centers have had printed sheets of paper with the welcome, closing and disclosure scripts pinned to agent desks. With the scripting tools, call center managers can easily create scripts that guide users through each step. Since all agents would be using a consistent script, it is easier to ensure compliance approval on the scripts so that everyone uses the same process.

Step 1 - Optimize Process:
As with any tool, garbage in - garbage out stands true for call scripting. The structure of the call flow needs to be researched, analysed and optimized before implementing a scripting tool. Poorly structured processes can do more harm than good. Put in a process of data collection to structure the call flow, CX experience expert approval on the language and compliance approval on the process before implementation for best results.

Step 2 - Identify the right tool:
Different tools provide different features and interfaces. Focus on the interface first as the most effectiveness will come from agents using the tool consistently. A difficult or cluttered interface will reduce the usage and could be counterproductive in driving benefits. The tool should be configurable easily and should have some inbuilt logic to be responsive to field inputs to personalise the conversations.

Step 2 - Incentivize usage:
Agents need to be shown the benefits of using the tool rather than just being asked to use it. There needs to be a balance of disincentives for not using it and benefits of using it for the agents. Agents will think about "What's in it for me", till the time they actually start finding it useful. Think about effective implementation upfront, driving usage after a weak implementation is a lot more difficult and is usually not very successful.

Benefits of Call Scripting

The benefits of a well implemented scripting tool can not be under stated. In addition to improving the professional image of the organization with consistent and knowledgeable responses to customers, it helps improve internal efficiencies at the same time. A win-win from a customer, cost and agent standpoint.

Improve customer experience:
The biggest benefit of a well implemented scripting strategy helps customers the most. It reduces customer effort by reducing the time and effort of customers. They get straight unambiguous answers quickly and directly, with the right amount of verification. Customer effort is becoming a increasingly important indicator of customer loyalty. It is easy to switch supplier in the digital world and competitors make it easy. Frequently customers can just do it from their phones or computers. Get them what they need - quickly and accurately. It is an important aspect of digital transformation in a digital first strategy. Improve NPS and FCR while reducing customer effort.

Improve time to proficiency:
There is a learning curve for new agents as they learn to manage increasingly complex call scenarios. a script for difficult situations enables new agents to be able to handle complex transactions from the beginning. They take less time, feel more confident. SME support and supervisor escalations are reduced when agents are able to confidently handle difficult calls.

Reduce AHT and costs:
AHT is a key driver of call center costs. Other efforts to reduce AHT are ineffective as agents get into poor behaviours to reduce AHT. The more AHT is focused on, the more it results in lower effectiveness with dropped calls, agents sounding in a hurry to get off. The right way to do it is to help agents with a clear, accurate response without needing them to put the customer on hold.

Improve Compliance:
This is frequently the biggest reason for implementing call scripting. Agents giving out information without proper verification is one of the biggest risks in a call center with DPA laws becoming more and more stringent. Scripts restrict the agent from moving on before completing the required validations which could be different for different types of queries. Scripting automatically ensures verification is done for each call and only at the right level that is required for the query.

Reduce Training Time:
The training of new agents comprises of system training and training on policies and procedures. With a good scripting tool, the need for training on processes and policies is greatly reduced. With reduced training time, agents get to calls faster and with reduced learning curve, they are more effective straightaway.

Important features of a call scripting tool

While most scripting tools offer similar features, there are some key differentiators and important points to consider:

Agent experience:
This is one of the least talked about features, but is critical to effective implementation. The tool should provide a clean, interesting and easy to read interface for the agents. It should be intuitive and clear with the ability to add images at each step. Also, when setting it up, minimise the amount of text used in scripts as they distract the agent from the key information and keep them from progressing quickly.

Low code / No code:
Most tools provide easy to create interface without requiring IT support for implementation or changes. The important factor is whether the tool uses a hierarchical structure of data or different steps linked to each other. It is recommended to use a hierarchical structured tool as it reduces the changes of missing out on linking the various steps. These are often not noticed, except by agents when they are using it. Always better to use a structure which has a default structure for new buttons - reduces creation time and avoids loose hanging leaves without connections.

Ability to personalize call using inputs collected:
The tool should be able to use the collected information to personalise the call later on - like addressing the customer by name. The tool should also be able to display the collected information somewhere so that agent can refer to it at any point in the call.

Management of additional information:
The tool should be able to provide additional information on the screen as links to documents or expanding text on click, which reduces screen clutter for agents. It should support linking to existing articles or external URL's.

Logic and variables:
More advanced tools allow you to create advanced logic within the script tree. This becomes more important in the long term when you start optimising the processes for further improvements.

This is important if you wish to integrate the tool with any existing system like ticketing system or getting information from your CRM. Most tools support integrations in the enterprise plans, and if not, they are frequently able to build it pretty quickly if the source system enables integration.

Finally - What makes agent scripting successful?

Agent scripting is a powerful tool for digital transformation for any center. They key to a good implementation is to keep customers and agents in front and center. The ease of use for agents and strategies for motivating agents to use it are probably the most crucial in getting a successful outcome. The second most important success factor is optimization of processes before implementation. A bad or loose process does not help anyone. It is well worth doing a study of customer complaints and agent feedback as a project - internally or through an experienced consultant, before implementation. Review the process with process experts and compliance teams for effectiveness and accuracy before implementation. Once implemented, maintain a regular process of checking reports, issues and continue to get feedback to keep improving.

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