Every contact center encounters its fair share of hurdles on the path to success. Why struggle in silence when you can face the problem head on?
Balto is here to help.
Fix-It Friday targets contact center leaders’ biggest frustrations with solution-focused content. Keep an eye out every other Friday as we tackle a new topic.
This week, we’re talking through a familiar problem for many managers: agents constantly going off script.
Why Is Going Off Script So Common?
The obvious answer to why agents go off script is that they don’t like the provided talk track.
But what is it specifically that agents don’t like about their scripts?
We recently surveyed over 500 contact center agents and found that 64% of respondents want to change their scripts. Agents reported wanting to change script length, tone, and flexibility most often.
This data reinforces the conclusion that most agents aren’t thrilled with their scripts — it also sheds light on the precise reasons agents might go off script.
Is It Really That Important for Agents to Stay on Script?
When agents go off script, they wander from an established conversational path and forge their way through the call blind. While this may seem more organic, the reality is it leaves agents vulnerable to mistakes.
In fact, 24% of agent mistakes on calls happen because they forgot what they were supposed to say. Scripts are designed to help agents know what to say and when to say it. Because of this, it’s safe to assume that staying on script could prevent nearly a quarter of agent mistakes.
Another 21% of agent mistakes result from being nervous. Nervousness can result from burnout due to stress, and 74% of contact center agents are at risk of burnout. While overly complex scripts can exacerbate this issue and cause agents to avoid the talk tracks they’re given, the right scripts reduce agents’ stress levels and, in turn, their risk for burnout-based nerves.
If we assume that staying on script can help agents avoid both forgetfulness and nerves, then we can also assume that staying on script could eliminate 45% of agent mistakes on calls.
With such a staggering performance increase on the table, it’s no wonder that managers want agents to stay on script. But how can contact center leaders actively encourage agents to stick to their scripts?
Finding the Fix for Agents Going off Script
Low script adherence isn’t a unique problem — it’s one that most contact center leaders face, but it’s not inevitable. Try these fixes to keep agents on script in your organization.
Involve Agents in the Content
No one knows how well a script works better than the agents following it. After all, they’re on the frontline every day — as much as you might think you understand your customers and ideal call flow, agents have the lived experience to back up their ideas about what works and what doesn’t.
To make agents more comfortable with scripts and to ensure you’re using the most effective talk tracks, ask for agents’ feedback on content. You may find that many agents are uncomfortable with how they’re instructed to handle objections, or that they’ve had better luck with a different opening line.
Unsurprisingly, agents who report the highest involvement in script writing or updating are also the least likely to want to change their scripts.
Sharpening your script should be a continuous feedback loop. Whether it’s a structured form where agents can submit suggestions or a free-flowing conversation in a monthly meeting, open a line of communication to help agents feel comfortable recommending content updates.
When you involve your agents in crafting your script, you leverage your team’s expertise and ensure they’re more likely to stay consistent on calls. Update your script regularly based on feedback and you’ll notice more effective call flows in addition to better adherence.
Gamify Script Adherence
Just like anything else, work is easier when it’s fun. Your primary goal may be to encourage agents to stay on script, but how can you bridge the gap between what you want and what agents actually do? Make it fun for agents to achieve your goal.
Gamify script adherence with elements like leaderboards or challenges, and offer prizes to agents who stick to their scripts the most.
Positive reinforcement helps with forming habits. When agents feel recognized and rewarded for sticking to the script, they’re more likely to keep doing it.
Add More Flexibility
Agents aren’t robots. And that’s a good thing — 88% of people prefer speaking to a human over an automated system. Scripts are an important asset, but they shouldn’t force agents into unnatural patterns of conversation that sap all humanity from the interaction.
This fact is felt more acutely by long-tenured agents. Agents who have been at their job for at least four years rate more flexibility, naturalness, and more ownership as the biggest changes they’d like to make to their scripts. Veteran agents are ostensibly more familiar with established call flows. In turn, they’re eager to lend their expertise and use their own style on calls.
Customers want to talk to people, so give your agents the flexibility to sound like themselves on calls. Note points in the call flow where improvisation is possible, allow more tenured agents to customize their scripts, or give agents the freedom to paraphrase.
Adopt Technology for Stress-Free Scripts
Agents who report high stress levels due to factors like call complexity or difficult scripts are more likely to leave their jobs. This isn’t particularly surprising when we remember that 74% of contact center agents are at risk of burnout, 21% of agent mistakes result from nerves, and the number one change agents want to make to scripts is length.
Unfortunately, long scripts and difficult calls are unavoidable for some contact centers. Compliance requirements, complicated industries, and other variables necessitate in-depth scripts in many organizations.
The good news is, intricate call flows don’t have to translate to agent stress. The right solutions can support agents at every turn of the conversation without requiring any memorization.
Find a platform that provides real-time guidance to agents, immediately offering relevant responses to every possible question and objection. By uploading extensive content that dynamically prompts agents in any scenario, you take the pressure off agents and enable them to stay on script without feeling stressed.
Some solutions also incorporate flexibility, gamification, and feedback. Balto uses intent-based voice processing to allow agents to speak naturally while staying on script. Our real-time technology enables easy gamification and constantly learns from agents’ preferred language in conversations, allowing them to effortlessly submit feedback on their script with every call.
If you have any doubt that the right technology can transform how well agents stick to their scripts, just consider that Balto helped Expo Home Improvements boost script adherence by 40 points — their agents now follow the script 90% of the time.
Pick Your Fix, Forget Poor Script Adherence
Agents go off script often, and for a variety of reasons. But when you address poor script adherence at the root and eliminate the source of script frustrations with the right fix, agents will happily stick to their scripts more closely.
Check back every other Friday for insight into a new topic, and reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s a contact center issue you’d like to learn how to fix.