As a journalist, I prepared questions to lead the conversation before going into an interview. It made it easier for a conversation to flow and for me to collect the information I needed for a news story.

In a call center, having questions prepared to lead a conversation is essential to making a call go smoothly and collecting essential information. Without this direction, calls can go all over the place. That’s why it is important to prepare scripts and call flows for your call center.

Working for ScreenSteps — an application that call centers use to create call flows, job aids, and procedures for their call center reps — I’ve seen how a properly written call flow can help a rep control the call, handle the call with no mistakes, and bring handle time averages down by 90 seconds.

But what is the difference between a script and a call flow? And when should you use each?

Below, I’ll first explain what a script is and what a call flow is. Then I’ll break down what makes the two similar and different so that you can decide how and when you’d like to use each in your call center.

Rebecca Lane

By: Rebecca Lane on August 8th, 2021

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Call Center Script vs Call Flow: What Are They? When Should I Use Them?

What is a script?

A script has specific words and phrases that you want agents to use verbatim. With a call center script, you expect agents to follow instructions exactly, without any variations.

Think of it as an actor perfectly delivering the written lines for a play. The lines were written by someone else, but the actor can still interpret how to deliver those lines. With a scripted theater production, actors know what they need to say and when they need to say it.

The main concern we hear about using scripts in the call center is that agents will sound robotic when they follow one on a call. But with practice, your agents can learn to read scripts without sounding like they are spoon-fed everything they are saying.

🔍 Related: How to turn technical call center guides into agent-friendly scripts

When to use a script

Use a script if you need your reps to say specific language for legal purposes. You’ll want a script for anything you need to have compliance with. With reps reading the exact text, you guarantee compliance on every call.

Another common area to use scripts is for those calls that aren’t very complex. That means there are not very many decisions to make during the call and there aren’t very many steps to the calls. The calls are straightforward.

An outbound call is the best example of this. Say your rep is in charge of outbound calls to collect donations for your animal shelter. The script could go something like this:

We’re reaching out to you today because of your involvement with the Smithfield Animal Shelter.

Would you be willing to contribute a donation to get more animals off the streets and into loving homes?

    • NO: “Thank you for your consideration. We hope you will continue to stay involved with the Smithfield Animal Shelter. Have a great day!”
    • YES: “Thank you for your support. How much are you wanting to donate today?”

Call Center Pitfalls eBook

What is a call flow?

On the other hand, a call flow prompts an agent on what to do, how to do it, what to say, and what questions to ask. It takes a rep from the beginning of the call to resolution.

It is a roadmap for your call center agents so they know what they need to ask and when they need to ask it. A call flow helps your agents gather critical information at the front of the call so that they can serve the customers better and help them reach a resolution quicker.

If a script serves the same role as a script for a play, then a call flow is ad-libbed sections of a play. The actors know what direction the story needs to go in and where they need to end up, but they don’t always have the exact words to get there.

Call flows can (and should) include prompts, but unless required, the specific phrases don’t have to be read verbatim.

When to use a call flow

Use a call flow to guide a rep through an inbound call. If you don’t need your reps to use exact language but want to make sure they don’t miss a step, then a call flow is the way to go.

If you have parts of a call flow (i.e. a paragraph you need them to read for compliance), you can insert that script as part of your call flow.

Use a call flow for troubleshooting type calls. Troubleshooting calls are typically complex calls. They could go in multiple directions as your rep works to resolve problems the caller is having.

A call flow will guide your rep through specific questions to ask, help them know things to check, and provide options your rep can follow based on the caller’s responses.

Use a call flow for complex calls. If there are multiple decisions in a call, it's difficult to write out (and to follow a script) for everything you need to say. A call flow helps reps easily know what the next step is.

4 differences between scripts and call flows

While there are some similarities between a script and a call flow (e.g. both aid an agent while in the workflow) they are not the same thing.

1. Scripts are not usually comprehensive

Scripts are often used for simple outbound calls or for the initial intake for inbound calls, or when a rep is required by law to say specific language. But they’re not used to help a rep handle an entire call because most calls can get pretty complex.

A call flow, however, is comprehensive. It’s meant to help a rep take the call from the greeting to the closing of the call. The call flow creates space to handle the complexities of a call.

2. Scripts are not adaptive

A script is usually a couple of paragraphs on a Word document or in your phone system and it’s stagnant. You have to follow the script exactly or else it doesn’t work for your rep. Instead of being a help, it can cause confusion.

Call flows, however, help the rep adapt based on how the caller responds. For example, say the caller needs to change their rental home dates. First, they need to say which rental home property they used to book their reservation. Whether it is Airbnb, VRBO, or another booking site, the caller’s answer will direct your rep to follow a different branch in your flow.

🔍 Related: 6 Best Practices For Writing a Call Center Script For BPO Agents

3. Scripts only include what to say

The only job a script has is to tell the rep what to say. Its function is to get your reps to ask specific questions and respond with specific answers/instructions. And it is set up so they can do it all in a specific order.

But a call flow guides a rep through what to do, can include links or references for details on how to do it, and can include prompts for what to say or what to ask. In other words, it’s complete.

4. Call flows incorporate quality assurance elements

Do you have criteria your company needs to meet for compliance? When you use a call flow, it helps you check off the necessary compliances processes.

Other quality assurance elements include creating a consistent experience for your callers, preventing a need for further calls (aka achieving one-call resolution), and more.

Create call flows that help agents be consistent and accurate

Both scripts and call flow procedures can be helpful in your call center. Scripts provide exact language to reach compliance expectations while call flows are adaptive to help your reps complete a call.

The purpose of a call flow is to give the rep confidence that they are handling the call in the best way possible. The result is your callers have a much smoother experience — calls are consistent, they’re complete, they’re accurate, and they’re efficient.

At ScreenSteps, our quick authoring tools help you write both scripts and call flows. You can nest scripts in call flows to maintain compliance and prompt your reps on what to say and do.

ScreenSteps includes workflow articles, which allow an interactive, question-and-answer approach to your call flows. It makes it easier for your agents to follow your call flows.

Whether you use a knowledge base software, like ScreenSteps, or document your call flows in Word, the principles for writing a call flow are the same. Use these five steps that make it easier to write clear call flows your agents can use on calls.

How to Write a Call Flow

About Rebecca Lane

Content Marketing Manager