The pros and cons of live chat scripts

When a customer reaches out for service, they don’t want to be treated like just another number. Meeting the customer’s contact with robotic stock phrases, vacant platitudes and inflexible answers is hardly a recommended practice.

Yet that same customer also wants an efficient, timely and correct response. This conflict between rigidity and efficiency is where the debate around customer service scripts gets stickier.

Scripting your customer service conversations is a practice layered with controversy. Here, we take a closer look at live chat scripts in the contact centre and their pros and cons.


What are live chat scripts?

Live chat scripts are like the other scripts you may use in your business. Be they sales scripts designed to upsell, technical support scripts designed to speed up ticket handling, or customer service scripts focused on retention.

So, live chat scripts can (and do) take multiple formats and address many needs. The only difference is that they’re geared specifically to online conversations via live chat.

But are they a good idea? Well, it depends on how you use them.


The pros of chat scripting
·        Consistency

One of the benefits of live chat scripts is the consistency of your messaging. No matter how many chats you have, your core messages are the same. Your customers get the same information, in the same tone.

This means there’s less risk of an error damaging your brand. It means you can mitigate the chance of tone-based misunderstandings. And it means that you know customers will get the same treatment no matter who they chat with.

·        Ease

For newer team members, finding the right thing to say in real-time might not come naturally yet. Live chat scripts make performing well on your team more accessible for these newer team members.

As such, scripts can act as training wheels for new team members that want a bit more support themselves when starting. They take away the pressure that offering real-time support can create. (Particularly when your chat queues are busy.)

·        Nothing is forgotten

Sometimes there are certain pieces of information that you must tell the chatting customer — for legal reasons, for instance.

With live chat scripts, your agent cannot forget to tell the customer this important information. So, you know for certain that every chat session involves the legal messages, deals or offers that you want to share.

·        Efficient

Live chat scripts mean less time spent on unneeded small talk. This acts as a boost to the efficiency of your chat channel — chats are completed quickly. And so, agents can help more customers. This reduces wait times and (when done right,) makes for impressive and easy customer experiences.

However, there is a pitfall here. Some customers will look for small talk. Having a script that’s geared solely towards efficiency, then, can hurt the customer experience.


The cons of chat scripting

This brings us to the cons of live chat scripts. Strict adherence to scripts can infuriate your customers, damage your reputation and impede the very efficiency you sought to create.

·        Robotic

Live chat scripts can result in robotic-sounding service. That is, there’s a risk of failing to create any genuine human connection with your chatting customers. Agents can end up going through the motions of a conversation without engaging the customer.

This is because it’s incredibly difficult to script empathetic service. For empathy, agents need to pay attention to customers and adapt based on their mood. But live chat scripts don’t often allow for that adaptation.

·        Inflexible

Live chat scripts are prone to making your service inflexible. It’s impossible to plan for every issue, question and mood that your customers will come to your chat channel with.

This means the strict adherence to a script can prevent agents from being able to help the customer and create a good experience. So, you risk failing to empower your agents — making it hard to help the customers that come chatting.

·        Non-personalised

Adding to this inflexibility is the difficulty of personalising chat sessions to each customer. Live chat scripts offer limited options for personalisation.

In the age where knowing your customers has never been easier, this can quickly make for poor customer experience. Your customer will feel reduced to a ticket, and grow increasingly annoyed as they receive generic platitude after generic platitude.


To script, or not to script?

Despite their bad rap, live chat scripts have patent benefits. But cling to them too tightly, and you risk losing out.

So, use live chat scripts as a guideline, not hard and fast rules. Let your team personalise them, tweak them, or drop them completely at their discretion. There’s little harm in using scripts when you empower your team to go off script too.


Useful links

The Mehrabian myth, non-verbal communication, and live chat software

25 ways to give bad customer service

One lump or two: knowing your customers has never been easier