“Customers are dictating the way service needs to be delivered, and organizations face new threats from competitors and modes of competition.”- Forrester, Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service
In 2015, Forrester published an analysis on customer service, with the input of 500 surveyed consumers. The report outlined specific customer service challenges with one major factor standing out; scripted customer service.
The research found that 69% of consumers felt that scripts did not improve their experience, and in many cases, scripts can actually make things worse. The Forrester article states that 82% of surveyed consumers felt that their experience would improve with off-script communication.
While such scripted encounters can improve the efficiency of helping customers, people hate talking to a robotic customer service agent. Instead, they want their interaction with your business to feel natural and genuine. They want to feel valued as an individual rather than treated like a mass-produced commodity.
We can all relate. Think of how many times have you’ve heard the robotic response, “I understand that that must be very frustrated’ by someone who clearly does not care? The response sounds disingenuous, leaving customers feeling undervalued. The result: Customer satisfaction plummets… and so do profits.
So how does a business go off-script while maintaining efficient and professional customer support?
1. Going Off-Script
Remember a customer service agent represents your business, and you cannot afford to have toneless, uninterested employees delivering a script. Customer service agents can start with a script as a reference, but managers should encourage them to engage with customers naturally. Businesses should hire experienced customer service reps that know how to deal with customers politely and in a friendly manner. Entry level employees should receive training to learn how to properly speak with customers.
2. Know the Product
Employees should know your product inside and out. Staff with more knowledge of the business will ultimately provide better assistance to customers. Make sure to provide adequate training to customer service agents by using the right tools to teach your employees about your product or service. For example, software companies can employ online guidance platforms that train staff with step-by-step instructions on how to use a software program. In this way, when asked a question, customer service agents will be able to “wing it” because they have the ability to access relevant information within seconds.
3. Say the Magic Word!
Forrester’s analysis demonstrates a basic component of human interaction that many of us tend to forget. Simple words like “please” and “thank you” can go a long way, especially in business. Service agents should always speak to customers politely to show respect and gratitude. This gives agents the ability to go off script while also maintaining a professional and genuine tone toward customers.
4. Self-Service Option
Giving customers a self-service option saves time for everyone. Investing in a thorough, searchable online resource center, FAQ section, tutorials, and so on leads to more educated customers. This also alleviates the burden of customer support. Customers can find the answers they need independently, which saves time and increases customer satisfaction. According to Forrester, “customers want to use a breadth of communication channels — self-service, voice, digital, and social channels — to interact with a company. Across all demographics, voice is still the primary channel used, but is quickly followed by self-service channels, chat, and email.”
With advancements in customer service delivery and significant software improvements for call centers, businesses should no longer rely on scripted interactions. Going off the script pays off in the end. Training employees on the product offered and how to speak with customers in a friendly, natural way ensures better service and satisfaction.