Question: Is there anything more off-putting than scripted customer service? Answer: No, there is not.
You contact the call center of a vendor from which you bought a watch, an insurance policy, a dishwasher or a pair of television set because the product is faulty or you need to clarify a warranty, shipping or product function question.
The customer service representative responds with what is an obviously scripted answer.
“Sir, at this time it is not known why your TV is not working. We recommend you read the owner’s manual or go to our web site. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
The word “policy” often comes up in scripted customer service.
“Sir, I am sorry if you were told that your shipment would arrive in time for Christmas. It is our policy to not guarantee a shipping arrival date. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
In addition to inadequacy and a high annoyance factor, this kind of call center customer service misses a larger point: customer service is more than an obligation, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to cement customer loyalty, to sell more products, to gain referral sales from happy customers who tell their families and friends about the great service your company provides. In short, good customer service is all about engagement, about creating a lasting personal connection between customer and vendor.
Scripted customer service kills personal connections.
My own belief is that scripted customer service agents appear to be, and usually are, under-trained. They can’t go off-script because they don’t have a strong base of knowledge about the product or service. The message this sends customers: We don’t care enough about you to staff our customer service department with knowledgeable employees.
The alternative to scripted customer service is well-trained and qualified customer service specialists. This means hiring employees who have professional experience, not entry level applicants working their first jobs. You need staff that know how to deal professionally with customers and who understand American customer service standards and expectations.
And it means training customer service staff with “dialogue guides,” which are models that help employees speak conversationally while helping customers.
Companies can either build a high-quality in-house customer service department or they can use an outsourced customer service call center. Either way, customer service needs to get off scripts and get into conversations.
Mark Fichera, CEO
Call Center Services