If you want to increase the efficiency of your contact center, your call center agents should sound like they’re not reading from a script—at least that’s what almost 80% of consumers said in a study conducted back in 2018. Does it mean that you shouldn't use call center scripts at all and just “go with the flow”? No, but you have to be smart about using them.
A few years ago, there was a study showing how people respond to scripted and unscripted calls. The authors of this report asked an interesting question: “Does it improve your call experience when the customer service agent doesn’t sound like they’re reading from a script?”
This study was conducted twice, first in 2014 and then in 2018. Here are the results:
What does it mean to your business? That you have to use your scripts in a strategic way. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start here.
What are call center scripts?
Call center scripts (or customer service scripts) are shorter or longer (unfortunately, usually longer) documents showing how conversations with people calling your company should go. You can think of them as ready-made prompts or templates helping your customer service agents talk to each caller, resolve their issues, and answer their questions. Call center scripts are frequently integrated into call center software.
In light of the study I’ve just quoted, you may think that it’s not a very good idea to use these scripts; after all, that’s not what customers want.
Well, what if I told you that’s not entirely true? What your customers really want is to talk to agents that are knowledgeable and sound natural during every conversation. We'll come back to that later.
For now, let’s just say customer service scripts are extremely useful to your reps for these five main reasons:
- Script templates help new agents get acquainted with your company's work (they are also very handy for training purposes).
- Cold calling (outbound) scripts help your company get in touch with potential customers or reengage with the old ones.
- With these scripts, your support agents know how to react in specific situations (this point is especially important for your technical support, but also when an angry customer calls) and how to offer the optimal solution for a given caller.
- Call center scripts are the best way to lower the risk of human error. In other words, you make sure every customer interaction goes the way it should and that your agents always provide the same accurate information.
- Lastly, call center templates enable your agents to save time. They don’t have to think about what to say or what answers to provide—everything is readily available for them.
How to create effective call center scripts
This part is crucial. Heed my warning: when creating conversation templates for your company, it's very easy to make little mistakes that will decrease customer experience and even irritate your callers.
In my experience, there are eight commandments of useful and effective customer service scripts; let’s have a look at them:
Thou shalt create several mini-scripts
Don’t fall into the trap of creating one large script, including many procedures and guidelines in one call flow. It’s much better to create several mini-scripts for different situations and scenarios. These mini-scripts should be short, too. Don’t write every single word; stick to crucial points that will help your agents keep the conversation on track and satisfy customer needs.
Scripts should be easy to read and highly scannable; you don’t want long pauses on the line as your agents frantically look for the right response in a ten-mile-long script. Believe me; these manuals are not useful—ditch them as quickly as possible.
I suggest using different fonts styles and colors to make your scripts faster and easier to read. Additional devices like bullets, underlining, or highlighting main points are also very useful.
Thou shalt have a good opening line
The opening of the conversation should be short, specific, and pleasant. There are four things to include here:
- A common greeting (simple “Good morning!” or “Hello!” will do)
- The agent’s name and the company’s name (“My name is [agent name] at [company name]”)
- Information about recording the call (“This call is being recorded for training purposes”)
- Invitation to start the conversation (“How can I help you today?”)
Thou shalt not talk too much
Your goal is to keep every customer service call as short as possible. Ensure your scripts don't have lengthy parts requiring non-stop speaking for more than 15 seconds; this will only frustrate your callers. Of course, there are some exceptions, e.g., when you have to read a consent agreement before taking payment or signing off on a contract, but the hard and fast rule is that you should avoid talking your caller to death.
Thou shalt personalize communication
If possible, every phone call should be personalized. That’s why you need good CRM and call center software—both of these tools will help your agents keep all the relevant customer data in one place, so when they get a call, they immediately know who is calling. With this knowledge, you can personalize communication, e.g., by using customer first names or providing assistance tailored to the product/service they have. It’s always nice to show that you care for your customers, for instance, by asking, “How are you today?”
Thou shalt avoid negativity
Of course, I’m not saying that your agents should always be positive about everything. Just imagine this conversation:
Agent: “How can I help you today?”
Caller: “My Internet has just stopped working, and I need it to do my job!”
Agent: “I’m happy to hear that!”
Obviously, that’s sending the entirely wrong message. Rather, you should concentrate on providing as positive a customer experience as possible. Here’s how you can do so:
- Empathy: Show the customer that you understand their situation and want to help them as quickly as possible.
- Don’t blame the customer: Even if it’s clearly their fault, you should avoid saying things like “You did it wrong” or “Why didn’t you read the manual?” Focus on solving the problem instead: “Let’s get your connection back up!”
- Concentrate on helping them: Don’t put out the message that something can’t be done. If that’s truly the case, agents should focus on alternative options or steps your customer can take to achieve the desired end result.
Thou shalt finish with a proactive ending
You can ask one or two final questions when the conversation is nearing the end. For instance, you can say something like this:
“I’m happy that we resolved your problem! Is there anything I can help you with today?”
“Do you have any additional questions?”
In nine out of ten cases, the answer will be “no”, but the customer will surely remember that the agent was kind and helpful. And speaking of the last impressions, make sure your customers don't hang up without a fond farewell!
Thou shalt never stop optimizing your scripts
Call center scripts are never set in stone. You should analyze them from time to time and implement necessary corrections, especially when your company’s offering changes or you get feedback that something isn’t working as it should.
Thou shalt train your team
Ensure your call center team gets regular training on how to talk to customers. This is especially important when your reps need to improvise, like in the case of a highly unusual situation. Here, analyzing past conversations can be very helpful. Find out where your agents need additional support and provide it to them via relevant training.
It is also extremely important to be helpful and knowledgeable about the product, especially for your technical support. Ensure all tech reps have all the necessary knowledge and can assist customers in fixing their problems.
Now you know what to pay attention to when working on your customer service templates. I’ve made a list of some ready-made inbound call center scripts you can use in your company. Feel free to steal them—go forth and make them your own.
Inbound call center script examples
Script 1: Intake
Agent: “Hello, my name is [agent name] at [company name]. How can I help you today?”
After hearing the reason to call:
Problem: “I’m sorry about that. Let me just confirm your details, and we can get to the bottom of that.”
Question: “Of course, just please confirm your details, and I’ll be happy to clear that up for you!”
Script 2: Payment for the service
Agent: “Would you like to pay by a credit card, check, or bank transfer?”
If the customer selects the credit card: “Would you like to provide your [credit card or bank] information over the phone, or should I send you a secure link so that you can pay online?”
Script 3: The customer wants to buy a product that is out of stock
Caller: “Hi, I want to buy [product name], but I can’t place an order. What can I do?”
Agent: “Hello [customer name]. I’m sorry to inform this product is currently unavailable, but we'll have fresh stock in soon. Would you like me to place your order now so that you can get it as soon as it's back in stock?”
If the customer says “yes”: Continue with placing the order.
If the customer says “no”: “Of course, alternatively, we can send you a notification when the product is back in our warehouse. Would you like us to notify you?”
If the customer says “yes”, ask for the preferred method of contact.
If the customer says “no”, invite them to revisit the website next week.
Script 4: An impatient/irritated caller
Customer: “I ordered [product name] almost two weeks ago. It was supposed to arrive last week, but it hasn’t. I have no idea where it is; how long do I have to wait?”
Agent: “I’m sorry about the delay. Please provide me with the order number, and I will check the status of your order.”
Depending on the situation with the order, you can inform them of its current status, provide additional support (e.g., a tracking code), and/or offer a solution that will satisfy the caller, e.g., a one-time discount code for the next order along with a personalized “we’re sorry” message.
Script 5: A dissatisfied/angry caller
Customer: “I recently purchased your [product name], and I’m extremely dissatisfied with it. Some of the parts are damaged, and it doesn’t work the way it should. I want my money back!”
Agent: “I’m very sorry that was your experience; it's important to us that you're satisfied with your purchase. Let’s see what we can do to make this right.”
After acknowledging an angry customer’s feelings, you can ask them to provide product photos or additional details. Even if the carrier damaged the product, refund the item as quickly as possible and don't forget the "we're sorry" message. In the grand scheme of things, what's more costly—the cost of replacement, or the outcome of this customer's review of your business?
Script 6: A repeat caller
Here are two ideas for a nice way of starting another conversation with the same caller:
- “Hello again, [customer name]! Thank you for calling us! How can I help you today?”
- “Hello [customer name]! Do you need additional support with [previous problem/question]?”
Script 7: Closing a call
Agent: “I'm glad I was able to help you with [customer’s problem]! Do you have any additional questions for me today? Have a great rest of your day!”
Outbound script examples
Script 1: Reminder about the payment
Agent: “Hello, this is [agent name] from [company name]. I just wanted to let you know that our last invoice for you is due on [due date]. Did you receive the invoice? Can I help you with making an online payment?”
Script 2: New offer
Agent: “Hello, [customer name]! I am [agent name] calling from [company name]. I’m happy to inform you that you’re eligible for our special offer that will help you [shortly explain the benefits]. Is this a good time to walk through the offer?”
If the customer says no, offer another, less engaging form of getting acquainted with the offer, such as an email. Alternatively, you can ask for a preferred time to call again.
Script 3: Follow-up call for the previously discussed offer
Agent: “Hello, [customer name]! This is [agent name] from [company name]. Last Monday, we talked about [product name]. Is now a good time to talk about this offer? Do you have any questions I can answer for you?”
Other typical situations
Of course, the number of possible situations in your call center is much bigger, and it depends on your company’s profile. I've listed some typical problems along with the best way to respond to them:
- Order mix-up: “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t receive your order, [insert name]. Let me check your order to see what happened and get another product sent to you immediately.”
- Putting the caller on hold: “Do you mind holding for a moment? I will transfer you to [department or staff member]/I will get back shortly with the answer.”
- Unresolved problem: “I’m so sorry; at the moment, we can help you with [alternative option 1] and [alternative option 2]. I will discuss this matter with my supervisor and will get back to you as quickly as possible.”
- A follow-up call for an unresolved problem: “Right now, we’re still having some problems with [explain the reason]. We’re actively working to fix this issue. I will call you back as soon as I have an update to report.”
- Alternative version: “I spoke to my manager, and here’s what we can do for you: [possible options].”
- Dealing with several customers at the same time: “Of course, I’m happy to help. Just give me one moment to look into that for you. I’ll be back shortly.”
- Offering other products: “I’m so happy we resolved your problem today! If you have just a moment, I'd love to tell you about some of the other options that others frequently purchase with this product. [Describe a product that’s relevant to the caller].”
Summary: Ensure your scripts are useful, natural, and short.
It's important to keep your scripts brief and practical. Don’t turn your customer service agents into mindless robots reading a never-ending stream of words. Give them some freedom—natural conversation is what you want. That’s always the most straightforward recipe for useful, versatile scripts.
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