How to turn technical call center guides into agent-friendly scripts
There’s something you should know — your call center agents don’t want to read technical call center guides.
I know. It hurts. Technical guides take a lot of time to create and they have a ton of detail. But they’re no fun to read. Unfortunately, the reality is that relying on technical guides is unavoidable in many situations.
If you support any kind of product or service, most likely, technical writers produced user guides that explain in great detail how to use a product or a service.
While those are really helpful, in most cases, those technical guides are too … well … technical.
These technical guides aren’t always end-user friendly. So what ends up happening is that agents have to read through the guide while on the call, understand what it’s saying, and then translate it into words that the caller can understand.
Or, the technical guides are too much for agents to even understand, so call center managers and trainers may not even bother showing agents how to use the guides.
Which is a shame because if agents don’t have a resource to use while handling calls, they either have to work from memory or by constantly asking for help until they “get” it.
In my seven years with ScreenSteps, I’ve seen businesses with technical guides that are incredibly detailed, but require careful reading to really understand how to convey the information to a caller. Luckily, after helping other company’s go through the process, I’ve come up with simple changes you can make to transform technical guides into agent-friendly scripts.
Whether your call center walks customers through setting up medical equipment at home or answers difficult financial investment questions, there’s a simpler way to transform unrelatable technical guides into common processes for your everyday employees and customers to use while handling calls.
Below we explore the strengths and weaknesses of a few common solutions as well as dive into three tips on how to solve your technical call center script problems.
The issue with verbally training agents on technical guides
Often what happens when the jargon gets too complex and the technical guides get too long is the managers and trainers step up.
The managers and trainers learn the technical content in detail, translate it in a way that agents can understand, and verbally teach it to agents (often using a PowerPoint) during classroom training or shadowing.
This is why managers and trainers are on the fast track to herodom!
However, two issues with this approach are that it puts the burden on your managers and trainers to do all the teaching which then limits the number of experts you can have in a company.
If managers and trainers become the only source agents know how to use when they need to learn something or have a question, agents have to learn via shadowing and being constantly corrected until they memorize it themselves.
That can take a very long time and is an incredibly frustrating process when new hires spend three months learning only to quit.
What managers and trainers do is phenomenal. It's truly the art of teaching to take difficult concepts and make them easier to understand.
Alternately, instead of creating PowerPoint slide decks, managers and trainers should write down their translation in an easy-to-consume guide so that agents can reference those guides instead of always needing one-on-one help.
Basically, instead of creating PowerPoint slides, create a guide that agents can reference during and after training. That means they won’t always be asking you the hard questions.
How do you do that? Take all that technical content in your brain and in your guides and put it in agent-friendly scripts that can be there for your agents 24/7.
Consider these tips your Google Translate launching pad where you turn technical jargon into everyday language.
3 tips for turning technical guides into agent-friendly guides
So you want your agents to be able to find your technical guides and actually use them? It's going to take some work, but in the end, investing time and using these three tips could help simplify your technical guides.
1. Organize your guide(s) by the topic of a call
How you organize your guides is important because it increases accessibility by creating a user-friendly search system.
Often technical user guides are organized by feature. Unfortunately, you might be surprised to learn that the features aren’t the most important keywords when titling your guides.
Typically, your agents don’t care about the features — they care about handling the calls. Which means that when an agent is on a call helping a customer, they are often unable to find the resources they need.
The solution: Organize your content by potential calls your agents could handle. Title your user guides (or specific sections of a larger user guide) after the type of call an agent might receive.
For example, don't write a guide titled, "Account Settings" and then explain everything about account settings.
Instead, write a guide titled, "Changing account settings." That way, when a caller calls in asking, "How do I change my account settings?" Your agents can quickly locate that guide and respond to the caller.
Using verbs, making titles actionable, and using language that a customer would use makes it easier for agents to find the answers they need in real-time.
2. Only include what's necessary to handle the call
Sometimes knowing the ins and outs of processes can be a hindrance when it comes to creating scripts that every agent can follow.
You know A LOT about your processes and procedures. And you want your agents to know everything that you know. The problem is that your agents don’t need to know A LOT — they need to know ENOUGH to handle a call.
As the famous saying goes, "Line upon line, precept upon precept. Here a little, there a little."
If you give too much information at once, it's overwhelming. Providing too much information is as if you’ve told your team to get a drink to quench their thirst but then you instead perform the post-game celebratory dumping of the gatorade ritual.
No one can quench their thirst when it is descending on them like Niagra Falls! Let your agents absorb things in layers and make it easy to learn more when they are ready.
You want to provide your team a cup of water so that they can satisfy their needs for the time being and build on that knowledge.
In your guides, only include the information that your agents need to handle that particular call.
But, wait? My agents NEED to know everything in order to do their jobs.
If it's important for you that your agents have a deep understanding of everything related to your call center then you can build your scripts to include ways to provide more information without distracting from the main process.
Two options are including accordion sections or links to other resources that help your agents gain a deeper understanding.
For example, in a troubleshooting guide, you might include an accordion section that explains in greater depth the cause of the problem.
Say you are trying to help a customer figure out why their new laptop is turning off randomly after using it for a few minutes. Your call center agent can access the step-by-step process to walk through the laptop analysis even if the agent doesn’t understand the intricacies of the problem. Foldable sections allow for agents to see more quick notes if they want to learn more about why the latest update is causing this problem and how to fix it.
You could also include a link that explains a procedure in more depth. Agents can then open an article in a new tab and review it later.
This allows your agents to learn when they need it, which often makes the lesson much more memorable. It also allows your agents to learn with context.
When there is too much detail in a script, your more experienced agents tend to stop using the script because it is difficult to find the main points they still need as helpful resources.
When you only include the necessary information, they can move through the call flow quickly.
3. Format your guides to include prompts for what to say and do
As much as you hate for your agents to sound scripted, it's worse when they say the wrong thing (or don't know what to say at all).
That’s why including prompts is so important. Without being required to say things verbatim, agents are provided the flexibility to sound less robotic and more like themselves.
Train your agents how to use those prompts so they don't sound like robots. That's easier than teaching your agents how to do every call. People naturally want to be themselves, after all.
Build your scripts so that they function as prompts. If there are a lot of steps, you can outline step-by-step instructions.
As we talked about in point 2, step-by-step instructions don’t provide all the details — they are more like bullet points of necessary information.
There's no need for your agents to memorize the 47 steps of processing an exchange. Give them a checklist or a step-by-step guide.
If you know there is certain personal information you need to gather at the beginning of a call — like name, address, phone number, account number, etc. — a checklist that agents can quickly click on ensures they don’t miss anything.
If your agents are using systems to perform transactions, document those procedures separately.
Simplify your technical call center guides
Your technical documentation includes a wealth of great information, and you have already figured out how to translate in such a way that it makes sense to your agents.
Chances are you've probably already created PowerPoint slides or other training materials that explain what to do and how to do it.
Using these tips, the final step is creating guides that your agents can readily use not only during training but after training as well.
By organizing your guides by call topics, sharing only essential information in the guides, and formatting the guides with prompts, your technical call center agents will be better prepared to handle every call.
If you are still looking for more tips to help you write clear, easy-to-follow call center scripts that your agents will actually use, watch this video on 4 Types of Guides to Help Call Center Reps.
If you are ready to try these techniques, download our Guide Planning Worksheet below to help you organize your guides.