I think we all use a script at some point or another in our life. We use them to help us with interviews, to help us with a certain scenario, for training purposes, or just to make sure that we give everyone the exact same information. I've given scripts to my staff before to help them in dealing with specific situations and what to say. Scripts can be really helpful, but equally important is knowing when to go off of the script.
Recently I had two poor experiences where I was dealing with a representatives from different companies and their failure to break away from the script. I have no idea why they didn't I can only speculate that they didn't know how or they weren't empowered to do so.
Here's the first situation:
I have Cox Communications as my internet provider. Recently I got the monthly bill and was shocked to find it was higher than it had been the last month. I called and spoke to a representative who was clearly working off of a script to deal with angry customers like myself. She informed me that yes it went up and yes they had sent out a notice in the previous month's bill that explained the increase. And this is where the script began failing. I told her I didn't get that notice and all she did was repeat the same statement back to me. Every statement I made after that, including where I said I'm going to start looking to take my business elsewhere, was met with a minute long pause as she tried to find some place in the script that worked. Only it didn't. She couldn't find anything that ever dealt with the statements that I was making. I didn't really expect her to solve my problem or even really offer a solution (although it would have been nice.) What I really wanted was her to sympathize or try to find someone else that could help me solve the problem or even at the very least notate somewhere that something had failed and I wasn't notified. But none of this was offered. Even when I said I was hanging up she was still trying to find a place in the script.
The second situation:
I use Amazon....a lot (no that's not really surprising, but still.) Recently I was looking at all of the purchases I've ever made on Amazon and something strange was happening. When I started getting to years where I had a number of orders their system kept returning the wrong number of results. It would tell me I had made 14 orders, but would display a lot more. Or then it would say it was 26 but when I went to the second page it would say 13 and would only show me 13 even though I knew that there was more. Clearly something was wrong and it wasn't on my end as I had the same problem on three different operating systems and four different computers. So I fired off an email to Amazon to let them know what was going on and I will openly admit I probably didn't include enough information in the initial email. But instead of asking me for me the guy emailed me back with a script...and one that didn't even fit the circumstances. Such as checking to make sure the date/time was right on my computer (don't know what difference that would make) and that I was using HTTPS to login (which didn't fit because a) I had done so and b) once I'm in it's up to Amazon's server to decide what to use.) The only suggestion that was useful was to try another browser which I had done. I ended up giving him more information and he did break off the script and said he couldn't duplicate the problem, but he'd forward it on which is all I really wanted.
I also just had another experience where again they stuck to the script and didn't read all of the email with regards to a package being delivered and the lack of...service by the delivery company. I'm waiting to see how this one plays out.
The script can work, but it has to be the right situation and you have to trust your employees to know when to go off of it to help people. And if you can't trust your employees then at least let them know to transfer the call to someone else that can help the person. Having a problem/issue/concern is bad enough, but not being able to express that concern and get an appropriate response is even worse. And yes sometimes there won't be a good response that will satisfy everyone, but there should be an attempt.