By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
At one time all call centers used a free-form philosophy of recording caller provided information and communication, be it an order, a message, or an information submission. Free-form documentation is analogous to a paper phone message pad, with the agent filling in whatever blanks deemed appropriate, in any order preferred. As such, there is great discretion in how the forms are completed. The free-form approach works well for simple transactions that have a high variability of outcomes. Plus, for the diligently focused agent, free-form is faster. To excel in a free-form call center, however, higher standards in agent screening are necessary, with greater emphasis on training mandated.
In today’s customer-centric world, the caller experience is of increasing importance, and the free-form approach to call processing is increasingly deficient in meeting the need. If callers aren’t delighted with the process, their treatment, and the results, they will quickly take their business elsewhere by merely picking up the phone. In an effort to exceed customer expectations, managers have focused on agent training, retraining, and more training. The outcome of all this instruction, however, does not always produce the preferred results to the extent desired. Therefore, a second convergent tack is needed to supplement all this agent training: the application of assisting technology.
As call processing became more complex, the free-form approach to caller interaction and data collection became increasingly error-prone and less advantageous, as well as problematic in an age requiring standardized databases. Enter a technology solution: call scripting. Call-scripting software allows the flow of the call to programmed, or scripted, for the agent. In essence, call control is embedded into the call processing system, with consistency and quality as the welcome results. Additionally, the proper implementation of a scripted call platform into the call center results in agent screening, training, and supervision becoming less critical than in a free-form environment. Still, preplanning a call via scripting does not negate the need for proper agent hiring, training, monitoring, and evaluation, but it does make those efforts simultaneously more effective and more likely to achieve optimal results.
Properly configured call-scripting software can produce the following outcomes:
- Increased data consistency
- Improved quality
- Greater caller satisfaction
- Fewer errors
- Embedded intelligence into the script
- Simplification of complex tasks
- Quicker agent training
- Call flow branching based on caller input or requirements
- Enforcement and validation of data in real time
- Prohibition of entering conflicting data
- The ability to handle far more complicated transactions with better results
- Screen pop information based on entries
- Pre-populated fields based on prior information gathered, or even prior calls
- The ability to control the disposition and dissemination of the information after the call is complete
Programming a call script does require more thoughtful effort than configuring a free-form solution, but the extra effort invested one time, at the creation of the script, pays dividends over and over, day after day.
See our listing of call center vendors that provide call-scripting software.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2008]
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry.