How to Increase Customer Engagement Using Agent Call Scripts

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Published:  June 20, 2013

In a recent interview, Steve Tatarian, Chief Sales Officer at The Scooter Store, shared how they improved customer engagement practices by making agents’ scripts less transactional and more conversational, resulting in improved revenue and net promoter scores.

The Scooter Store had a finely-tuned process for their customer calls. Consultants knew how to ask a series of questions to determine whether a prospective customer could qualify for reimbursement from their insurance company.  But, by listening to the voice of the customer, they discovered they had a big opportunity for improvement in the way agents engaged customers.

Over the years, they found themselves becoming more transactional and less relational in their approach. Through call monitoring and customer surveys they discovered that potential customers were more receptive, appreciative and engaged by having more holistic conversations about their goals, needs and aspirations.  It made their customers feel that the call was more of a consultation than simply an application processing transaction.

At first many people at The Scooter Store were concerned about what impact the script changes would have on costs.

“When we initially adopted this philosophy about conversational and relational interactions, it caused a bit of a concern from folks on the operational side of the business who were saying, ‘Well, you’re going to extend talk times and average handle times. You’re going to increase the cost of serving customers,’” explained Tatarian.

Initially, The Scooter Store conducted benchmarking tests. They launched the first test with a few pilot teams and then a few randomly selected control teams. They found that the pilot teams had similar or better average handle time as the control teams.

The pilot teams had transactional elements of their scripts replaced with conversational elements. Their agents were still able to get the required information without having to ask the customer a series of yes or no questions.

“By substituting a relational and consultative type of approach into our script, we were able to maintain handle times. At the same time we drove up our net promoter score significantly in the pilot groups versus the test groups,” Tatarian shared.

In addition to handle time and potential costs measures, they had a number of metrics in place for their test groups.  They tested the conversion rate from the number of inquiries that came into those teams.  Who did the best job of converting them into a completed interview or a downstream sale?  Their pilot groups achieved higher conversion rates.

They also measured which group achieved the most cross-selling.  The agents on the pilot teams achieved a transfer rate of a customer to cross-sell that was 18% higher than it was in the control groups. The pilot groups who were using a conversational approach had a much broader view of their customer’s needs and were able to cross-sell more devices.

It was not just the customers who appreciated the change; the agents felt liberated as well and a sense of flexibility. Tatarian told us that the reward came when the customers would compliment the agent and say things like, “No one’s ever asked me these types of questions before. You folks really do want to try to understand my needs.”  The positive feedback gave their agents more confidence and self-awareness about the positive impact they were making.

“I think for many of our mobility consultants, it was liberating. We have compliance rules that we need to follow. There is “must-have information” that we have to capture in our scripting to be able to process an interview or complete the screening process. How we went about accomplishing that task was the liberating part, and we communicated a very simple notion that is, instead of selling by telling, start selling by asking,” said Tatarian.

By making agents’ scripts less transactional and more conversational, The Scooter Store was able to improve their conversion rates, cross selling, revenue and net promoter scores, while maintaining handle times.

Tatarian closed the interview with, “What I would suggest based upon our experience and now what has become a roll-out of that plan, is that there is some real value in taking a step back and looking at how you engage with your potential customers and/or clients or customers. Think about it more from a conversational format and a relational format than transactional. You’ll be surprised at how your customers will reward you, not just with their business, but with the word-of-mouth that it gives you as an organization as well.”


The Take Away

  • More conversational scripts helped The Scooter Store to improve conversion rates, cross selling, revenue and net promoter scores
  • Making the scripts more conversational did not increase handle times
  • Customers were more engaged by the conversational scripts
  • Agents felt more satisfied by conducting more conversational calls