Last winter Windowizards, in Philadelphia, had a mystery shopper call 10 home improvement companies of similar size across the U.S. and record the interaction with each company's phone room. Then Windowizards' management had that same mystery shopper call Windowizards.
The goal? To compare how Windowizards' administrative personnel handle inbound calls, and to assess whether the scripts its employees use are effective.
Scripts standardize service levels by giving employees tools for handling almost any type of situation. “When you leave them to their own devices you get a random, sporadic result,” says Charlie Gindele, whose company, Dial One Window Specialists, scripts admin staff, installers, and sales reps.
Without scripts, your employees are winging it, and you could be losing leads and sales.
Experts suggest that the best way to introduce or extend scripting is by having employees help generate scripts.
“Many organizations try to create scripts at a high level and impose them on employees,” says Mark Robledo, founder and president of the Crossroads Group, in Miami (www.crossroadsgrp.com), which offers mystery shopping and script-writing services. “Employees resist it. They don't have an issue with the message but with the way the message is said.”
Suppose, for instance, that prospects calling in response to a Web site visit tell you that they only want a price. Austin Gutterman, in Austin, Texas, used to have that problem.
“We won't do it,” says owner Bill Frazier, who penned a script for confirmers explaining that every house was different and that providing a number was just a blind guess.
Some prospects would respond by demanding a linear-foot price. So Frazier created another script — part of a training book for office and sales employees — explaining that with all the factors to take into consideration, the company didn't suggest a price of any kind on the phone to spare customers possible disappointment.
Frazier says it takes about 30 days for employees to become familiar enough with a new script so that “it seems natural, not like they're reading it.”
Some owners feel that as much of an operation as possible should be scripted. “Every function in every job, including salespeople,” offers Chris Ripley, CEO of Lifetyme Exteriors, in Boston.
He suggests developing new scripts by having the most efficient employees write down what they do in any given situation, and then edit this. For example, in managing one-legs at the confirmation stage, Ripley had a confirmer write down every conceivable scenario and how she responded.
Whether it's admin personnel or sales reps, holding employees accountable is key to effective scripting. How? Listen in, or have company phone calls recorded and forwarded to your computer to listen to at your discretion. Dial One, for instance, can retrieve a recording of any response to the 800-numbers it uses to track lead sources.
You can also hire mystery shopper services, whose employees will phone your establishment with a checklist and will grade employees on how much and how well they adhere to scripts. Results can be used to coach employees.
“How can there be accountability if [employees] don't have something to be accountable to?” Ripley asks.