Call center and BPO managers in highly regulated industries are required to have customers consent to terms and conditions during over-the-phone sales. In practice, this looks like call center agents reading lengthy legal disclosures to customers who are prone to zoning out, mishearing, or misunderstanding what is being read to them. In addition to the poor customer experience, verbal scripts are prone to agent errors and make auditing complicated.
Digital terms and conditions allow call center agents to collect instant consent from their customers’ mobile phones without the agent needing to read out long scripts. This directly addresses the KPIs call centers are about most: accelerating AHT, improving completion rates, and reducing compliance risk.
Here, we’ll dive into some of the pitfalls of reading scripts, and the value of digitizing contract Ts and Cs.
Why Reading Contract Ts and Cs is a Bad Idea
Terms and conditions are a necessary part of call center operations. Going through an order summary or setting up automated payments (like ACH) particularly of a package deal or service, may warrant the introduction of Ts and Cs. In many cases, it’s a legal necessity. Terms and conditions delineate the legal obligations of both the consumer and the company. For example, the consumer receives privacy protections, while the company is protected in case it takes certain actions.
Most sales calls include a disclosure, if not several. A simple example is the ubiquitous phrase, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance.” Such simple disclosures are helpful and important, especially at the beginning of a call.
Later on in the process, disclosures get more complicated and prone to error. Once a customer has agreed to make a purchase, agents often find themselves reading out lengthy and complicated scripts. And that’s where the trouble comes in. Call center agents must remember to read these T&C disclosures, read the correct paragraphs depending on the type of product being purchased, and make sure they are understood. This variability kills efficiency and leads to error and delays.
But even the most experienced agents can make mistakes whether by not speaking clearly, skipping T&C sections, or misreading the script. This is more likely to happen if the compliance team has updated the disclosure, and the agent hasn’t been properly trained and monitored in using the new one.
At the same time, training and keeping tabs on agents to read disclosures properly is not the best use of call center funds and time. It distracts call center agents from their main job, which is to sell products or services in an efficient and customer-centric way.
Ultimately, verbal disclosures are not ideal for call centers in any industry, including:
Where Verbal T&Cs Go Awry: In Insurance
Insurance agents must verbalize terms and conditions during the sales process. Given the complex nature of insurance products, customers are particularly prone to misunderstanding. Agents, too, are at risk of reading incorrect scripts due to having multiple insurance types on offer — and therefore different disclosures.
Where Verbal T&Cs Go Awry: In Telecom Companies
Telecoms that rely on agents reading out Ts and Cs are setting themselves up for trouble. Customers are prone to misunderstand agents, and as a result, telecoms suffer from high rates of post-call cancellations. Customers receive their first bill, are surprised by what they’re paying for, and call to cancel.
Where Verbal T&Cs Go Awry: Healthcare
In the highly regulated healthcare sector, terms and conditions are often a necessary part of staying HIPAA-compliant. Ts and Cs may need to be disclosed:
- To describe a health-related product or service that is provided by, or included in a plan of benefits of the patient.
- To gain patient consent for treatment
- To gain patient consent for alternative treatments, therapies, health care providers, or settings of care.
Healthcare providers who fail to clearly read T&Cs or are misunderstood by patients expose themselves to potential legal action.
Disadvantages of Verbal Disclosures
- Not customer-centric (low NPS): Imagine a customer ready and eager to make that purchase — only to be forced to listen to a lengthy agent script. According to Software Advice, 78% of customers said their experience improved when agents don’t sound like they’re reading from a script.
- Inconsistent: Agents with varying experience and skill levels have to stop and think about which T&Cs are required for which products and make decisions independently — impacting speed and compliance success rates.
- Inefficient: Agents are forced to read lengthy scripts full of legal jargon — and customers are forced to listen to them (while often misunderstanding or tuning out).
- Potentially noncompliant: Agents are at risk of misreading terms and conditions scripts, especially when scripts are changed by their legal team.
- Low agent satisfaction (low eNPS): Agents spend too much time reading mind-numbing disclosures, taking them away from the more engaging aspects of their job.
- Poor AHT: Handing time goes up when agents must read lengthy Ts and Cs.
The good news is that there are cost- and time-efficient alternatives to verbal Ts and Cs. And they’re even more compliant than traditional methods of gaining consent.
How Digital Terms and Conditions Make For More Efficient Legal Disclosures
Today’s call centers no longer need to rely on reading lengthy legal disclosure statements to stay compliant. What matters is that agents deliver these disclosures quickly and in the moment for customers to provide their instant consent. And none of this requires reading terms and conditions over the phone.
Instead, the agent stays on the phone with the customer to answer any questions about the purchase or repeat order details. When the time comes to introduce a legal T&C, the agent simply sends the digital terms and conditions to the customer via text message. Customers easily review and accept the terms of service (ToS) on their smartphones with a single click. All this happens in real-time without the agent reading out a long script.
Here’s how it works:
Call centers that switch to digital terms and conditions avoid error-prone script reading, allow agents to gather customer consent in real-time, and allow phone-based sales to be completed easily and quickly from any location.
These are just a few of the biggest benefits of adopting digital Ts and Cs:
1. Reduce average handling time (AHT)
AHT shrinks when agents can simply have customers read and consent to terms and conditions on their own — instead of listening to lengthy legal scripts. Customers instantly (and usually quickly) approve T&Cs, privacy policies, and disclosures with one click, from any mobile device.
2. Improve completion rates
Eliminate the frustration of cumbersome processes and provide the convenience that customers expect. Customers no longer need to listen to lengthy Ts and Cs, check their inboxes, or get redirected to websites.
3. Simplify compliance
With digital terms and conditions, there’s no need for agents to manually select the appropriate disclosures and read them without mistake. The automated digital workflow instantly generates the corresponding Ts and Cs based on predefined business rules, sending them to the customer’s smartphone for immediate consent.
The Immediate ROI of Digital Terms and Conditions
Switching from verbal agent scripts to digital terms and conditions allows call centers to maximize their agents’ productivity. Instead of spending valuable time reading out disclosures, agents can spend more time providing a personal, friendly, and efficient level of service on their sales calls. Agents find themselves having more satisfying sales calls and moving onto the next customer quicker. And call center managers gain invaluable peace of mind, knowing that Ts and Cs are being delivered in a fully standardized and compliant manner — with far greater efficiency than before.