Office Response’s training department recently revised the standardised scripting used in the contact centre. Although Office Response offers a bespoke service to our clients, we need to create templates for client call flows to be built around. This speeds up the set up process to prepare us more quickly for ensuring we are able to answer our clients’ calls as early after the sale as possible.
Our advisors are trained to use client scripts as a basis for building a conversation and rapport with our callers, but rapport-focused scripting can set a positive tone to the call for them to work around and improve the impression that the caller is directly through to our client rather than an answering service.
As a result, the training department have suggested changes in the following areas:
The way in which a call is greeted will set the tone for the rest of the call. A lately timed or dull greeting will give a caller the impression that the company they are calling are unwelcoming. Phonetic client names ensure that the advisor greets the caller with the correct pronunciation and advisors are encouraged to give their names at the start of the call to ensure the caller has a reference point. The advisors are then coached to open the call with a smile and this avoids the caller feeling that they are talking to a robot or just another voice at the end of their phone line.
2. Using the caller’s name
This is an area of call handling that is widely debated by contact centres. The questions that often arise include: Should the advisor use the caller’s name at all? If so, how many times should it be used? Should the advisor refer to their caller by their first name or their title and surname?
The main issue for advisors using their caller’s names is formality. The advisor can often feel too informal if they use the caller’s name; preferring ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ instead. This can affect the advisor’s ability to build rapport. It is the caller’s name that personalises that call from any other call they take that day. By not using the caller’s name, calls can come across as systematic and uncaring, particularly where the call is heavily scripted.
Equally, assuming to use the caller’s first name can appear too informal. It suggests over-familiarity and many callers, particularly those of an older demographic, have been offended if their first name has been used before giving their permission.
Interestingly, a poll on Linkedin showed that 52% of call centre professionals acting as customers preferred to be addressed by their first name, with 42% preferring title and surname, and only 4% as sir or madam.
Bearing all this in mind, our standard scripting has been modified to ask for the caller’s full name and then ask how they prefer to be addressed. The advisor will then be scripted to use their name in the specified way at least three times on the call – once at the start after the name is given, once in the middle of the call when taking their personal details, and finally once at the close.
3. Empathy and Rapport
It is always difficult for an advisor when working on behalf of many companies to be able to relate to every client’s customers. Our advisors will take one call for a law firm, and then the next three calls may be for a facilities management company, a photo-booth repair service or a PPI claims company.
However, there are some standard tools that the training department have added into scripting which can be transferred to any type of client.
The first of these is an apology. A gripe for anyone calling any type of business is that there is no acceptance of blame if a caller’s needs haven’t been met. Many of our clients use our services when they are unavailable to take calls, and this can cause frustration with their customers if they cannot speak to the person they need to. A scripted apology can act as a reminder for the advisor to empathise with the caller. It is of course up to the advisor to ensure that this sounds sincere and follow it up with a positive indication of how they can help.
Secondly, positive acknowledge phrases, such as ‘great’, ‘excellent’, or even ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can maintain the energy of the call through to its close. It’s a lot easier to say ‘excellent’ with a positive tone than a negative one! Again, these are scripted mostly to act as a reminder for the advisor to use those that they feel comfortable with to avoid sounding strained or fake on the phone.
4. Call Close
A positive call close is as important as the greeting. It’s stating the obvious, but this is the last thing the caller will hear before they hang up, so it’s important that it gives a good impression of the client they have dialled. Scripting has been created to ensure that the advisor is able to summarise with the caller exactly what will happen following the call and to thank them sincerely for taking the time to call. As indicated above, they will also use the caller’s name when closing their call and are encouraged to sign off the call with phrases such as ‘Have a nice day,’ or ‘Have a good weekend’.
Scripting such as this will help give the right impression for our client’s callers, and make the transition from in-house to answering service as seamless as possible. If you would like to know more about how Office Response can help to support your business, contact our Business Development Team on 0845 223 7004
Sean Colledge – Training and Performance Manager