Why your business should never use speaking scripts (and when you should if ever)
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Recently I was trying to sign up for some cable and internet service and also figure out some things about another unrelated account via phone. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do any thing related to my services since everything has been closed with Covid-19 and I’ve not really needed to do anything to it in the last three and a half months. But I was wanting to change service providers and also figure out a separate unrelated account discrepancy.
I deal with customers and people on a normal day and I’m sure so do you. Most people have to deal with some person or another individual or boss at some point in time. We don’t live in a bubble in this world and sometimes we have to put our lives in someone else’s hands or answer to them. From the couple of hours spent on the calls I had this week, here’s what I think more businesses should do to improve the state of customer service. I do customer service too and knowing how it feels not just giving out service but also being on the receiving end makes me better at my job. If you are a business owner starting up a business or already an established business this might give you some ideas about how to structure your customer service so that you run more efficiently and also have a positive customer experience.
First off, hotlines. No one really likes them but they can make repetitive tasks like checking balances easy. That being said eventually a customer has questions that is unanswerable with automation and that’s when they have to speak face to face, mano a mano, tête-à-tête to a person. Don’t make that experience hellish for a customer because it will leave a sour taste on both ends.
Most businesses use “scripts” or a list of things they “have to” read or say. But a business needs to train or teach or hire customer reps that have a bit of customer service common sense or savviness to go beyond a basic script so that they don’t turn into:
Zombies = just going through the motions and really don’t know what’s going on and could care less, all the energy and zest from life is gone and they’re simply there to draw a paycheck.
Robots are somewhat knowledgeable but still can’t really think for themselves. Follows directions and procedures strictly by the book which can be good or bad.
Parrots are just going through the script motions, they probably have a bit more life to them than zombies and enthusiasm but are sometimes just yesmen.
Why you should not use scripts:
- It treats your customers like cattle = customers are a dime a dozen and they aren’t important
- You don’t really listen to your customers and what they want, like ever.
- It conveys the message “you don’t really matter”
- They should not feel like they are going through an automated box.
- If a customer calls you then they want something and you should shut the **** up and listen.
As a business yes, you can make computer scripts to automate your activity and analysis including legal. But you should never treat your customer as if they are just another person.
Business Ethics and Standards 101 we should see:
(businesses continue to evolve and change but fundamentally…)
- A customer should always be valued and feel like they are uniquely getting / receiving real genuine service.
- You should attempt to eliminate toll-free hotlines where you just are placed on hold. I wanted to put on that last sentence “whenever possible” but then a business would get complacent, so basically you should never use hotlines that place you on hold. If you ever have to put your customer on hold longer than 2 minutes (if even at all) then you completely failed as a business. That’s pretty high standards but it’s possible for many businesses.
- Get rid of stupid processes that have a lot of red tape and redundancy. Don’t make your employees do stupid s*** and jump through hoops. Too often sticks of measurement of productivity are used that don’t actually reflect the good work being done by employees. I’ve seen for example people aka workers used to move bags one by one when a forklift would have been faster and more efficient and at the time there were actually available forklift drivers but they were just used to loosen and churn the pile. I’ve seen businesses use three time keeping methods for a single day. I’ve seen instances where someone was told to label a shelf that was simply random useless junk paper. Basically they are filling time with useless filler activity and also padding numbers. In some cases a company may double book appointments to such an extent that more people show than actually are there just to make the numbers look good. Why use artificial measurements. Perhaps the system is broken then in that case.
You don’t like these things being done to you either so don’t do it to your customers.
Some other business related things also not related exactly to scripts include harassment…
- Don’t put up with it whether from someone you’re dating or coworker… Lately there’s been an epidemic of “Karenitis” or people that just complain and run to spy on everything you do and report you etc. People can’t even have a civil debate. There are some people that are too entrenched in the system and brown-nose and or kiss up to try to be seen favorable but often denigrates employees that feel inferior. We need to remind everyone that everyone is on a team working to get everything flowing together. And just because the term Karen is pejorative in itself to one party doesn’t mean it can’t apply to both genders. I’ve heard that there are people that just walk around thinking they know everything and causing trouble to the hard working people that keep their heads down and do the work.
Another business related issue involves clickbait for businesses.
Clickbait is a big time waster and not nice but some industries use it. From a customer perspective it’s not really nice but seems to be pervasive in the news industry. An example I found recently was that a news article cut off some of the words of a headline and it ended up meaning something different such as “How Harry and William discovered their father” was actually “How Harry and William discovered their father had caught an illness”. That I even bothered to click on it was a few minutes wasted of my time.
Now above we mentioned useless processes. There needs to be a way to change the style of most businesses. Covid-19 and the protest movements against injustice is shaking up the world as well other equality movements for gender. That being said more companies should emulate a web structure. For example:
- Following Leadership
In a lot of jobs there’s a formalized or informal structure. It might be essential for things like military and other crew work. For example it is prevalent in many team sports or places like film work that have a hierarchal structure. However there should be a sense of teamwork. I’ve heard in some businesses possibly like Elon Musk’s business that anyone can send an email directly to the top and solve and resolve the problem immediately. They don’t have to pass or get filtered by know-it all screening bosses that just want to please the boss. A concern gets addressed and everyone knows about it. A good case in point is the BP oil spill. A lot of information was kept back and covered at the top. Had there been more opportunity to be open and more communicative instead of secretive perhaps many things could have been prevented in that tragedy. Thus:
- Businesses should try to be open for feedback
- Should be able to quickly address problems without any delay or filtering
- Should be able to do so without fear of reprisal
Another issue with leadership is that it’s only as good as the person at the top. In many cases for example leadership may be missing or worse still just not handling a matter. There have been several instances during this Covid-19 which we won’t go into specifics because everyone is playing by ear. But if you don’t have leadership that can give you a good answer on fast happening news then what does one do? These are very important questions to ask and your business will need to figure that out: Do you follow leadership if they don’t have a **** clue and go up a chain of precedence / command? Lately you’ve seen a lot of this in the news and also some cases of whistleblowing.
- Next, customer service.
Maintaining good customer service should be a core value. It’s essential to have good relations with your customer before and after because they may become life long customers and also they can recommend your product to others. I learned some principles from studying an analogy with car sales. You want your customer to voluntarily come back and enjoy a high quality product they can recommend to others. And that if they were to recommend to others they would feel proud doing so. And other family members or friends would also use their products based on the recommendations and word of mouth. The product should sell itself but also provide residual ability to promote itself just by being good quality. One example that came to mind was for example a radio show explained Apple products a long time ago came with an added feature that it was already charged and ready to use out of the box or some products had the batteries included. That meant you could immediately take it out and enjoy it without having to buy extra accessories. It made a difference even though it was small on customer experience. You want to think about your whole experience and test it out as if you were seeing it from your person’s perspective even like a child. Don’t make it a techie-insider product unless that’s what you want it to be. No one should have to hook up wire a to b and screw x to hole y unless you’re purposely making a tinkerable toy.
Remember, don’t keep your customer waiting. And don’t treat your customer like they are just another zombie that’s all too willing to buy your product. You’ll scare them off. Listen to them when they have concerns and be patient.
- The customer isn’t always right.
I encountered this myself. I was right about 95 to 96% of the conversation but there was one thing that I didn’t have right and that was I didn’t know how one of the forms was designed. I spent an hour explaining to the customer that they left an amount off the form and explained backwards and forwards and through email. I was sure I was right and the company messed up my account. I was courteous and so was the customer and used everything to convey what I thought the form should look like and was right that the account added up to a certain amount. But just when I thought I was right and had my representative agreeing with me they showed me by being patient and persistent themselves and even at one point had me confused because I started to realize the form I was confused on wanted a “total” amount not “max” amount. And through coincidence that the previous years just happened to coincide with the max amount on the form.
- In this case they should feel okay to express themselves.
- They should be able to have a representative that is patient. I had at least three or four reps I dealt with on an issue and finally we found out what was wrong.
- It’s okay if a customer isn’t right or if you’re not right, but they should feel okay feeling that way and able to express that.
- And lastly sometimes the customer doesn’t realize some and even after they are shown they might be wrong it make take a second for it to click in and may need someone patient enough to show what went wrong. In my case I figured out that the form was actually asking for something different than what I thought it was asking for and had to double check it with another part of my account just to be sure. Once I understood that it all clicked into place. Go that extra mile and be courteous even when explaining something with no emotion either way. My rep stayed with me an helped me understand and after I realized the error and that they helped me realize I didn’t understand something as much as I thought due to just a simple thing they were still courteous and we ended the call on a positive note together. You can have business transactions that are win-win and not everything has to have a win-lose.
In conclusion, businesses need to adapt to this changing Covid-19 situation and life is changing. We need to be flexible and open.
Another thing that needs to happen is to remember stuff happens. You might have an appointment scheduled but your phone dies or loses service just as your repair man calls you and they are there early and you don’t realize till you get up and go downstairs and look out the window that they are sitting in a truck there wondering. So you both explain what happened and realize sometimes stuff happens beyond your control but can get on with it. We all have to adapt and be human as much as possible. Even with renting for instance or hiring people back we have to realize everyone is impacted and no one is in an isolated bubble. Be empathetic and put yourself in someone else’s shoes and how you would want to experience service yourself.