The other day, I called customer service at my bank, to have my password reset for online banking.
The conversation went like this:
Me: “Well, thanks, and you?”
Rep: “I’m fine Mr. Watson – thank you for asking.”
Rep: "How may I help you today, Mr. Watson?"
Me: “I can’t get into my account, and I need to reset the password.”
Rep: “I’m sorry that you can’t get into your account, and I'll be glad to help you re-set your password. Let me first just ask you a couple quick questions for security purposes, Mr. Watson.”
He asked, and I answered each of the security questions. Once I was fully validated, he asked me another series of questions, then told me that my password had been reset successfully.
Me: “Perfect – thank you!”
Rep: “Is there anything else that I can assist you with Mr. Watson?”
Me: “No thank you – I’m all set, and I appreciate the help.”
Rep: “Well, thank you Mr. Watson, it was my pleasure to assist you, and thank you for calling Acme Bank Customer Service. We here at Acme appreciate your business. Have a good day, Mr. Watson.”
Now, I realize that in his perrenial best seller “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie said that we should always make a point to use a person's name when speaking to them; that this helps us to get them to like us, and build a positive relationship. And I don't disagree with that adage. But Mr. Carnegie probably didn't have the 21st-century call center rep in mind, when he first offered that advice. This rep was repeatedly using my name in a way that came accross as contrived and unnatural. But I couldn't blame him for it - he was just doing his job, follwing the script that he'd been trained to follow. But unfortunately, it had a negative impact on my experience, as the person at the other end of this forced conversation.
When a customer calls to have a problem solved, they’re looking for two things:
- To have the problem solved.
- A natural conversation with a person like themselves.
Excessive name repetition and an over-scripted conversation can turn from a positive experience to an awkward experience in a hurry. Solve the problem, and sound normal in the process.
Call scripts should be used like training wheels on a bicycle – they should be used to stabilize inexperienced call center representatives, but once those reps are up and running, the continued use of scripts can make conversations awkward. And awkward conversations can prevent the growth of a good relationship. Retire the script when the time is right.