I just read a great article from the “eMyth” blog.
Their blog post talks about caring the right way. The catchy title ,”How Not to Care” says quite a lot. Initially, you think they want you to stop caring. But, in truth, they’re wanting you to care better.
I hear this all the time while calling a service center. “It’s been my pleasure to serve you today. Did you have any more questions I can answer?” It’s a lovely script, and that usually comes right after I’ve said, “Thanks for answering that. That’s all I needed.” So, I have to repeat myself, “No, that’s all I needed.” And satisfaction turns to annoyance.
Sometimes I just want to hang up the phone when I get to this point since inevitably there’s another 30-60 seconds of back and forth when I’m done with my inquiry. “I hope I met your expectations.” “You’ll receive a customer satisfaction survey by email.” “Did I answer all your questions today?” (Repeating it for the third time.) I am now wishing I had just sent them an email.
I used to work in a call center at GEICO. While most of my years there were spent handling executive level complaints, I did spend a couple of stints as a supervisor and as a sales person on the phones directly. That gave me an appreciation for why companies begin doing call scripts. (Quite another long blog post for another day.) But, they’re usually wrong to start writing them.
We’d like to see companies let their agents have freedom. Some of their employees probably like having the scripts for “security” so they don’t screw up–and they can blame the script author when they do. Let them have freedom to answer the phones any way they see fit. When they do, the customer will be happier, and so will the company rep.
Zappos gets it right. If you’ve ever heard their story–not just the fact they sell shoes–then you know they get it. They let their employees have great freedom to answer calls. They are allowed to respond to complaints the best way that fits the customer, and they get results.
In real estate, I see this issue, too. Since we’re almost all independent contractors, each real estate agent works on their own. We pay our own marketing, our own association fees, our own payroll taxes. Everything is done individually (yet another long, boring blog post). We have tons of marketing companies vying for our dollars. Most of them come with call scripts. What to say to someone when they first call you. How to get someone to buy your house. How to get someone to list their home with you. The best sleazy line was, “Oh, I almost forgot. I have this system that…” No, I didn’t forget because it’s the main reason I called you. (I never used that one.)
At first, I thought they had a good thing going. I eventually realized that treating someone well, answering their questions unscripted and providing sound advice was far better than reading off a script. And customers appreciate it more.