Little Things Part 3: Use operating procedures, not scripts.

A lot of customer service and support situations, particularly outsourced technical support is scripted. It’s scripted so that the representative has come up with minimal original things to say, normally due to language barriers. Most customers can notice when a script or series of pre-defined responses is used and it can be very frustrating. However, (unfortunately) scripts are becoming more and more favored by companies as the quality of the average customer service representative declines.

Companies should try to use operating procedures over scripts. Imagine if you visited Nordstrom and the representative had a script for everything. They do have operating procedures, but not scripts. If done properly, the use of operating procedures over scripts increases quality levels and customers do not become as frustrated. It makes the customer service experience more personal and overall more tolerable.

Look at this situation with a script:

Rep: Hi, thank you for calling company XYZ. My name is Bob. How may I help you?
Customer: I’m having a problem with my computer.
Rep: Okay, I will help you with your problem with your computer. May I have your first and last name please?
Customer: Mary Smith
Rep: Thank you. May I please have your email address now?
Rep: Thank you. What is the problem with your computer?

With an operating procedure, it’s much easier and more personal for both the representative and the customer:

Thank customer for calling company XYZ. Introduce yourself and ask how you can help the customer. Gather client’s personal and contact information (name, email address, etc.) and when ready, ask customer to describe problem. Try troubleshooting as necessary.

This allows the customer service representative to improvise a bit more and customize what is done depending on the customer. Here are some tips on how to improve your customer service with operating procedures as opposed to scripts:

  • Have operating procedures. Though it may seem obvious, have operating procedures for your most common questions, obscure situations (such as a customer who does not speak English well or is rude), how to troubleshoot properly, common things (how to answer and end the call, handle transfers, give credits, etc.)

  • Train with operating procedures. Before you put a customer service representative on the job, train him or her to effectively use your company’s operating procedures. The training will definitely pay off.

  • Locate them centrally. Operating procedures are great for letting other employees do basic tasks for other departments (i. e. a support representative checking on if there’s any money due on a bill). If they are located centrally, everyone can access them and learn about other departments’ tasks. Operating procedures should be quickly and easily accessible by all employees of the company.

When used properly, operating procedures are far superior to scripts and your customers will appreciate the difference.