Ideal call flows are a great tool for contact center agents to interact with customers. These scripts give agents an expectation of how the call will proceed and can even ease anxiety when agents aren't sure what to expect or if they're new to the job. Sales and collections agents use call flows frequently - but all contact center agents can also benefit from ideal call flows. The difficulty with these call flows is the simple fact that they're ideal. As many contact center agents and managers can attest, customers do not always act as anticipated.
Active listening is key for customers
In addition, customers don't like the idea that they're being given a general remedy, instead of an individualized fix. A recent Forrester report, as cited by Amy Clark, showed that nearly seventy percent of those surveyed believed that scripts did not make their experience better. These users have a point. As Shawn Feaser pointed out on Engagement Optimization, when working off a rigid script that doesn't account for multiple pathways, it transforms interactions with customers into a series of unrelated events. Agents may be less likely to actively listen to customers' concerns. Instead, they're waiting for their turn to speak and giving canned responses - or even worse, they're preemptively answering for customers. That can lead to customers feeling like their feedback isn't valued. That negative interaction can have larger implications on the brand's relationship with customers. To remedy that, Fast Company contributor Harvey Deutschendorf suggested focusing on staying present, as opposed to preparing what you will say before the customer has finished talking.
What other tools do managers and agents have to handle this and make sure calls don't get derailed?
Feaser suggested creating categories that identify how the call went off script. Did the agent cut the call short (or resort to sarcasm)? Did the customer get frustrated and exit the call prematurely? This is where speech analytics and predictive analytics software can help. As Lucy Fisher noted in Marketing Week, predictive analytics can offer "next best steps," which can bring a derailed call back on track. Speech analytics can also offer solutions that can improve training. It can look for keywords that signal a deviation from the script. Managers can point out these trends when interacting with agents. As agents notice these patterns, they'll be more likely to catch them as they happen in real time and will be more prepared when facing tougher customer interactions.
There are a long list of reasons, related to both the customer and the agent, that an agent can lose focus. However, by employing these changes, managers can help keep calls on track.