Call Center Scripts: What Are They, Why Write Them, and Best Practices
Many trainers and supervisors hate scripts. And who can blame them? Scripts have a reputation of causing:
- Reps to sound robotic
- Hurting the customer experience because agents aren’t personable
I get it. At ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company that supports call centers — we’ve heard this complaint from many call center managers and trainers.
But, scripts don’t have to be the enemy. I know that is hard to believe, but hear me out.
At ScreenSteps, we’ve found a way to write scripts so that agents can read them and still provide a great customer experience (with a little bit of training and coaching, of course). To accomplish this, you need to follow these five best practices.
Below, we’ll look at why call center scripts are important and what role they play in a call center. Then we’ll dive into some best practices to consider when writing a call center script. In the end, hopefully, you’ll be ready to write a few scripts for your call center.
What are call center scripts?
Simply put, a call center script serves as both a conversational and operational tool to aid your customer service agents on calls. It is an outline of words and phrases that you put in a specific order and expect agents to follow verbatim while on a call.
Call center scripts are precisely written to find the purpose of the call and help the customer reach a resolution in the fastest manner.
Why a call center script is helpful (4 reasons)
Before diving into the best practices for writing scripts for your call center, let’s review why scripts are important in a call center.
1. Takes pressure off of agents
Think of this from a new rep’s perspective. When an agent is starting in a contact center, they have no idea what to say.
They are new to call centers. They are new to your company. They are unfamiliar with the products and services they’re talking about.
From multiple trainers, I’ve heard examples of new hires who take calls for the first time and they are nervous wrecks. They become physically ill. And their minds go blank.
Giving them the words to say boosts their confidence. It takes the pressure of memorization off of the agents’ shoulders. Then it gives them a reference point that helps them remember their training.
2. Decrease agent training time
Speaking of memorization — it takes a long time. When new hires are required to memorize, they spend more time in the classroom agonizing over every detail of learning procedures.
However, you don’t need to require memorization when you have scripts for your call center. You only need to train your agents on how to pull up the correct script and follow it. That takes less time than learning how to handle individual calls and procedures.
3. Reduce errors
It’s human nature to make mistakes. Even your best tenured agents will make mistakes. Having scripts for your agents to follow reduces their chances of making mistakes.
A script invites agents to lead (or control) a call. This allows the agent to handle a call in an order that is the most direct line to a resolution without missing or forgetting a step.
4. Makes support consistent
How is the experience different for callers when your reps don’t have a script? It’s hard to tell because there are so many variables.
As a business, your customers expect a specific experience when they call into your company. Without scripts, that experience can be very different each time a customer calls in.
Using scripts, you can provide a consistent experience for your customers, no matter which agent answers their call.
5 best practices for writing a call center script
There are many ways and tips for creating scripts for your customer service agents. Here are five of the best practices for writing call center scripts that support your agents on calls.
1. Use different types of call center scripts
Sometimes supervisors think there is one master script. But, in reality, you can have scripts for different parts of the call and different procedures.
You don’t need a master script that can handle every type of situation. Create an intake, a closing, and then include scripts as part of your documented procedures for handling specific calls.
Four types of scripts you can prepare include:
An intake script is what an agent uses at the beginning of every call. It helps your rep gather crucial information from the caller and discover the purpose of the call.
Your agents use an intake script on every call.
Procedural scripts are used to support specific transactions and procedures. These scripts include specific things to say for that particular call.
If you have documented procedures, your script can flow within your procedures. They don’t need to be separate documents. You may only want a script that agents recite verbatim for a portion of the procedure — like to explain a policy.
Here’s an example of how an intake script and procedural script would be pieced together:
Example: Processing a Refund
- Intake: Thanks for calling Acme. My name is Jonathan, may I have your ID?
- Caller: 555555
- Intake continued: Thanks! How may I help you?
- Caller: I need a refund
- Rep pulls up the procedure for processing a refund, the procedure includes a script for what to say: May I ask what your order number is?
Like procedural scripts, compliance scripts are for specific policies and procedures. These are used in areas of a call where you have precise language your agents need to use to maintain compliance.
In these situations, scripts might be mandatory. If reps are required to say specific language (or else lawyers get involved), you need to provide that language.
A closing script is the wording for when an agent ends a call. Your agents will use this on every call and it is the same every time.
Usually, closing scripts are kept simple:
“Thank you for calling ________. Is there anything else we can help you with today?”
2. Know when to write ‘verbatim scripts’ or prompts
There are different ways of writing a script. It helps to recognize that there are different approaches to writing scripts.
An assumption is that you have to write out each word a rep must say. But scripts can either be verbatim or a bit more general, more like topics that need to be covered.
When people hear the word “script,” a verbatim script is typically what they think of. This is used when you expect agents to use the exact phrases and words when they are talking.
Verbatim scripts are prime in helping avoid mistakes. I recommend writing verbatim scripts for intake scripts. This helps your agents gather essential information quickly and get to the root of the call faster. For example:
- “Thank you for calling Acme phones. My name is ________ may I have your customer ID number?”
- “Where would you like to have the item returned to?”
General prompts (call flows)
Another option for scripts is to use general prompts, which are also known as call flows. In these documents, you are more outlining when to cover specific topics in a process than giving exact words to say.
A call flow is prompting an agent what to do next for each step of a process. These can be written as step-by-step instructions or checklists. A few examples of general prompts include:
- Ask for their account number
- Ask where they would like to have the item returned to
Note: You can use both verbatim and general prompts together in one procedure. Use scripts for things that need to be said exactly and call flows to guide agents through the steps. For more information on the differences between scripts and call flows read, Call Center Script vs Call Flow: What Are They? When Should I Use Them?
3. Don’t use language that is too formal
Have you ever noticed that people speak differently than they write? Your agents are people and they are talking to regular people. None of them use formal language in their day-to-day life.
You want their conversations to sound natural. And you want your agents to be able to help callers without needing a translator.
Listen to how your best reps are asking questions/saying phrases. Use that language when writing your scripts. Keep this in mind when writing your procedures, too.
You will want to title your procedures using their language as it makes it easier for reps to find the script they need for a call.
4. Use formatting
Not only are the words you use in your script important, but how you present those words is important. Your scripts should be easy for your reps to follow while they are on the call. They shouldn’t need to puzzle over what you meant for the next step of a procedure.
Differentiate the formatting between verbatim, general things to cover, and necessary information. One way to do this is:
- Verbatim can be in a different color
- General things to cover might just be bulleted text
- Necessary information could have a warning symbol next to it
Bold the important words within a script so that if reps are skimming, they are prompted to remember the main point of the script.
Tip: Create a style guide for your call center scripts. This will help keep your scripts consistent no matter who writes them.
5. Run test groups on your scripts
Once you’ve written your scripts, you’ll want to test them out to make sure they are clear for your end-users.
Choose test groups to try out your scripts. Roleplay your scripts with these groups. Have them evaluate the scripts.
Do you get the language right? Are the scripts missing anything? Is it easy for them to follow the scripts?
Take that feedback to refine your scripts before sharing them with the whole call center.
Ready to start writing call center scripts and call flows?
Call center scripts help you provide your customer service agents with the support they need to do their job. With scripts, it is easier for your agents to remember what to do and avoid making mistakes.
Authoring call center scripts in a ScreenSteps knowledge base is easy and fast. One of our customers was able to create 4X the content in ¼ of the time using ScreenSteps.
Plus, the content creation tools make it easy to add visual cues to your scripts that make it easy for agents to follow.
Are you ready to start writing call center scripts and call flows? Need help deciding which scripts you need to write?
Download this free process planning workbook. It will help you list out scripts and call flows you need to write as well as think through what needs to be included in each of those scripts.