By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Over the years, the processing of phone calls has evolved from hand-written messages, to fill-in-the-blank computer templates, and most recently to software driven prompts or call-scripting. The first two methods, hand-written and computer template, relied heavily on the knowledge and skill of the agents; it was at their sole discretion as to what was documented and how complete the information was. Good training and close supervision were critical items for success.
As call centers found it increasingly challenging to find suitably qualified agents possessing the requisite decision making skills, the power of the computer stepped in to simplify the call processing procedure. This scripted software walks the agent through the call one step at a time, in a controlled, pre-determined manner. The next step of the call is based on the caller’s response to the prior question(s).
Scripted software often provides logical branching, field controls and enforcements, and drop down lists of acceptable responses to certain fields. Initially, scripted call processing software was designed for “order-taking” and other highly repetitive or intricate call types. But that, too, is changing. “As much as scripting is perceived as designed for order-entry calls, we have seen a major impact by using it on our traditional telemessaging clients,” said Kevin Bachelder, Director of IT, Ansaphone, Inc. in Quincy, Massachusetts. “We have reduced agent error and improved the quality of messages by being able to have the agents ‘follow the bouncing ball’ and fill in the appropriate information.”
“No longer do agents have to read through volumes of pages to get to the right information, and accounts that used to be hard for an agent to process have become easier,” added David Gardner, General Manager of American Inbound in Bloomington, Indiana. “This eases the agents’ frustration in getting to the right information and enables them to focus more on the customer to deliver a higher quality of service.”
Although setting up an account or campaign using scripted call processing is more complex and time-consuming than the previous generation of the free-form, fill-in-the-blanks software, extra effort is quickly justified with faster agent training and the ability to hire agents without as much rigorous screening. “A dramatic impact has been recognized in the training area due to the [scripting] capability of the Startel CMC platform,” said Gardner. “Agents can be quickly trained on this new system to become effective almost immediately. If agents can read, verify, and type, they can be a good revenue generating agent in no time.”
Other benefits of scripted call processing include standardization of data-entry, ensuring that key data is gathered, and embedding critical decision making into the script. The end result is that agents may successfully complete calls of increasing complexity. “We never have to say, ‘we can’t do that’,” stated Kelli Harrigan, of Spectrum Communications Services, Inc. in Brookfield, Wisconsin. “With our Amtelco eCreator system, we can always find a way to get it done.”
See our updated list of call scripting software providers.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.
[From Connection Magazine – Jul/Aug 2004]