After years of editing user manuals, I was assigned to edit procedures for a large call center. At the call center, agents use an online database to respond to customer requests. At first I approached these procedures as I would any others. But soon I found that content for call-center agents posed some unique challenges.
Users of manuals can take the time they need to find the right procedure. They can give the procedure their full attention and work through it at their own pace. Call-center agents, on the other hand, must juggle several tasks simultaneously. Agents often must find and complete procedures while speaking with the customer. As the conversation progresses, the agent sometimes must switch procedures mid-call or leave the procedure page to find the answer to a customer’s question. Throughout the process, the agent must interact with the customer politely and professionally.
Because of these requirements, the following best practices are particularly important for call-center content:
Titles must be unique and descriptive. Agents have to find the correct procedure quickly. Vague or duplicate procedure titles slow agents down. Worse, they can cause agents to complete the wrong procedure.
Content must be easy to scan. Agents must be able to find what they need while conversing with the customer.
Navigation must work smoothly. If the customer asks a question mid-procedure, the agent must be able to link to the answer quickly and then return to the step where they left off.
Content must reflect the company’s image. During a call, agents often read to customers directly from the screen, so the wording and tone must always be polite and respectful.
Content must distinguish between information intended for the agent and information intended for the customer. If this distinction is not clear, the agent may inadvertently share confidential information with the customer.