‘Freedom’ can be a worrying word for call centre managers – of course you want your call operators to give customers a positive experience, but you also need to be able to demonstrate compliance with any industry-specific regulations, and with across-the-board legislation like GDPR.
If a call centre agent goes off-script, that can be a cause for concern. But are word-for-word scripts the best idea when communicating with customers?
Recent research highlights why a different approach might be a better way – as well as shedding light on who among your call centre agents might be more likely to deviate from a prescribed script in the first place.
Which call centre agents want more freedom?
In a paper published in Sociolinguistics Symposium 22, Anna Kristina Hultgren of the Open University’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies examined behaviour in 187 call centre interactions and observations of call centre operators from two different countries.
She found that where a full or partial call centre script is in place, male operators are more likely to deviate from it than their female counterparts.
While on the one hand this raises the question of whether those male call agents need additional training, it is also an indicator that they could perhaps benefit more from a less prescriptive approach to their customer interactions.
Do customers benefit from call centre freedom?
The evidence suggests that customers also benefit from an improved experience when calls are less scripted, and in Volume 14, Issue 2 of the Journal of Politeness Research, Piotr Jagodzinski and Dawn Archer, both of Manchester Metropolitan University, explain why.
They write that because the customer experience is better when it is co-created with the customer directly involved, call centres might be expected to view language as “a vital means of creating an experience with the customer”.
Yet this is at odds with heavy regulation of the language used in calls, leading the authors to argue that “the co-creation of customer experience must be accompanied by its linguistic co-construction, which can only be achieved by giving frontline employees more interactional freedom”.
How to safely give call centre agents more freedom
Daviker Speech Analytics is an elegant solution to the issues raised above. Instead of imposing a word-for-word script on your call centre agents, it monitors every call made and can flag it for human inspection if the call does not comply with certain criteria.
These criteria might include fundamental regulatory concerns – for example, the inclusion of a GDPR statement early in the call.
But they can also encompass broader linguistic triggers, including many variations on certain key phrases, so that your call operators have more freedom in terms of how they interact with a particular customer.
This helps to remove the ‘uncanny valley’ effect of a human call operator sounding robotic or detached when delivering a prescribed script word for word, or with very little variation in the language.
Ultimately this improves the customer experience, and can help to keep your call centre staff happy too, while raising your regulatory and compliance standards and flagging any concerning calls so appropriate extra training can be delivered to staff.