Customer service reps need to throw away their scripts
I recently overheard my wife on the phone with a customer service rep. "Listen," she said, "I need you to stop reading me your script and just answer the questions I’m asking you."
One of the keys to excelling as a customer service rep is the ability to read people. Being able to read scripts, well, that’s not a skill on the being a difference-maker list. That’s why some of the most customer-centric retailers in the business are throwing away their scripts and investing in training reps to instead handle service issues on a person-to-person basis.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club and Zappos are three companies that have invested in hiring and training the type of people who are able to engage customers in a more genuinely human way.
Training associates to work off-script takes more time and certainly costs more, but proponents say the benefits in repeat business, word-of-mouth and social media kudos make it an investment well worth making.
"Rather than looking at customer service as an expense, we see it as a fundamental investment, just as we invest in the design and quality of our clothing product," Melissa Baird, vice president of operations and product for Bonobos, told the LA Times.
Today with email and online chat, customers have a variety of ways to communicate with companies. While other avenues have their advantages, consumers still want to speak with a human when it comes to problems they perceive as serious. Who would you rather speak with, someone reading from a script or someone answering the questions you ask?
- Why Dollar Shave Club invests in unscripted customer service – Los Angeles Times (tiered sub.)
- Do online chats beat call centers for customer service – RetailWire
- What’s up with call centers? – RetailWire
- How is omnichannel raising customer service expectations? – RetailWire
Have you experienced a customer service rep sticking to a script instead of addressing the issue you were calling about? Do you think it pays for companies to train customer service reps to work off script? What do you see as the challenges of making an off-script system work?