Striking the Balance

We’ve all been there; you’re about to rush out of the front door when the phone suddenly rings. Perhaps you even look down at the mobile in your hand? But no, for once it’s your house phone that’s ringing; meaning that you can’t even take the call on the run, well you could, but you wouldn’t get very far!

Once you’ve located the phone, cursing all the while about the fact that landlines are now portable and can be hidden down the side of the sofa, you answer it; only to be greeted with an overtly cheerful, perhaps slightly over familiar contact centre agent, keen to engage you in a long, drawn-out exchange, which will continue for several minutes before they even state the actual purpose of the call. By this time you are frustrated, and certainly in no mood to hear their sales pitch and liable to be rather short with the agent.

Or in the other instance, perhaps you’ve called a contact centre for a query to be addressed, or to report a problem, and the agent has been blunt to the point of rude, making no effort to impress any customer service on you. The call ends (most likely with the problem not resolved), and you’re left feeling slightly flat and will be in no hurry to follow up any contact with that organisation. You might even consider changing your service provider (for example) as a result of a bad call experience.

So where is the middle ground? Either of the above scenarios ends up with a frustrated customer. And as any good business operator knows, customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you won’t have a business to run, and there is always going to be a competitor waiting in the wings to capitalise on your poor customer service.

When running a contact centre operation, how do you ensure that your agents are not rude but also don’t increase your average handling time (AHT) for the entire centre by chatting for hours and end up costing, rather than making, you money?

If you’re ruthless and aren’t too concerned with providing exceptional customer service; then instructing your agents to get the caller off the phone as quickly as possible, with no regard for manners is likely to be your best course of action. That will certainly decrease your AHT.

However if you do care about your centre call reputation and your customers, while wishing to improve, maintain or reduce your AHT, then you may want to consider alternative options such as a next generation scripting solution.

The great thing about a flexible application is just that; it’s flexible. If we’re in the middle of a heat wave (because the weather seems to be a national obsession in this country) then as a supervisor, why not stick a ‘sticky note’ within your scripts, encouraging your agents to comment on ‘the beautiful weather we’re having’, or the fact that ‘we’ll be back to rain before you know it’. And then continue with the line of the script. As soon as the inevitable rain comes back, the ‘sticky note’ can be removed quickly and easily. Or amended to say ‘I hear the snow is heading this way…’

Not only does this create rapport with the caller, but also is a brief interlude lasting no more than a couple of seconds. It is just enough to be friendly but doesn’t invite a lot of questions or answers.

Our software application is built so that non-technical users can create or amend scripts in minutes. So why not create a personalised sign-off just for the weeks leading up to Christmas, all your agents could finish their calls with ‘have a lovely Christmas’, or if worried about offending those who don’t celebrate Christmas ‘have a great winter break’ for example; this ensures that the last sentence your caller hears is a positive one, and is often the thought that they will take away with them from the interaction.

The fundamental principle of contact centre scripting is to structure the flow of your calls. If you so wish, your agents can follow the script to the letter, and this way you can accurately predict your AHT for KPI purposes. Alternatively, you can directly guide the agents along the correct path, leaving room for them to add additional comments as they please (although that does have a slight danger to it!).

Whatever solution you choose, ensure it’s the right fit for your organisation. And if you’re looking for a flexible, cost-effective, straightforward solution, then look no further than CallScripter.