Top Skills All Call Center Agents Need
There is a misconception that being a call center agent is an easy job. It can actually be challenging, tedious, and stressful. The hiring manager responsible for building a team of skilled individuals is challenging as well. A wrong choice made during the hiring process can have damaging consequences for your team, company, and clients.
A call center manager must understand the necessary qualities of customer service agents- from personal attributes to professionalism and technical skills. Having a predetermined list of qualities will make the hiring process much more manageable.
Call center agents are responsible for much more than conflict or issue resolution. They often serve as the first point of contact for customers trying to reach a company they want to conduct business with or currently serve. Thus, your agents represent your business and interact directly with your clients in daily interactions. If your call center agent leaves the customer with a poor impression of your company or proves incapable of assisting them, their view of your business could be irreparably damaged.
The most skilled call center agents possess much more than a way with words; they also have access to relevant information and customer data and know exactly how to use them to help the caller better. They must go above and beyond to satisfy clients, win them over time and time again, and represent their business to the best of their ability.
Below, we examine a few of the top skills call center agents need to work most effectively in a call center environment and tips for how managers or supervisors can help their agents provide excellent customer service.
#1. Show Empathy
Empathy is different from kindness or sympathy. Empathy is defined as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another."
Your call service agent should actively showcase a sense of empathy when working with your customers and offering support. Additionally, they should know the ins and outs of your company's products and services, and policies. Handling a call with a sense of empathy at the forefront would mean better understanding your clients' problems and successfully helping them.
Below are a few empathetic statements you can provide your team members with to get them started:
- "I completely understand how you are feeling. I would be frustrated too. Let me see what I can do to help."
- "I am so sorry to hear about that. I will fix the issue and get back to you with an update as soon as possible."
- "Oh, I am sorry to hear this! I assure you this will not happen again."
In the statements listed above, your call center agent identifies with and validates the caller's emotions and actively tries to resolve the issue at hand.
Empathy adds a helpful human touch to your company-centered conversations and shows your clients that your business cares about addressing and resolving their issues. It helps your company build a rapport with your customers and is essential for maintaining strong customer relationships and trust.
#2. Being Tech-Savvy
For many customer support roles, having some technical skills is crucial. However, even for roles that are non-support roles, possessing some technical skills is essential too.
Your team of agents in the call center should be able to independently maneuver the software your call center operates on with minimal issues.
This is especially true for non-profit organizations or advocacy groups where many of their agents are typically volunteers. Having tech-savvy agents allows your business to get the most out of their agents' working hours as they can work independently, and will enable them to operate without a sufficient amount of tech or software training. Asking about a candidate's technical skills is essential when hiring a new team member.
#3. Ability to Perform Well Under Pressure
Call centers can have peak seasons, too; specifically, the holidays when services tend to pick up, people need support, and more. Call center agents should possess problem-solving skills and be able to resolve issues under pressure or time constraints.
Most people who work well under pressure are able to separate their emotions and focus on the end goal. Otherwise, efficiency goes down. To best gauge how a candidate would do under pressure, offer a stressful call center simulation. Allow the candidate to answer a couple of calls and give them a target to meet. When assessing their performance, consider the following questions:
- Were they "calm, cool, and collected"?
- Did they remain polite the entire time?
- Were they able to actively listen to the problem instead of responding to a client's emotions?
#4. Clear and Effective Communication
While it seems like an obvious one, it is still worth mentioning. A considerable part of a call center agent's job is communicating with callers effectively; they should have top-notch communication skills. Effective communication involves:
- Actively listening.
- Processing the information being conveyed by the customer.
- The ability to offer a solution quickly and effectively.
The call center agent should be able to speak clearly and use basic vocabulary to ensure that every client understands the assistance being provided. Effective communication bodes well for the quality of service. A significant component of a positive customer experience is possessing the skills necessary to help. However, one cannot have competence without clear communication skills. They go hand in hand.
Agents work in booming call centers, so organization is necessary. Agents must multitask effectively (i.e., checking the knowledge base, updating the CRM, and taking notes on your helpdesk) while attending to the customer and addressing their needs. The ability to stay organized minimizes errors during this process, ensures that necessary post-call work is completed efficiently, and allows agents to address customer concerns more effectively.
To ensure that your call center agents are organized, hire people who have met all application process deadlines (i.e., arriving to interview or meeting on time, submitting requested documents ahead of the deadline, etc.) and offer the organization a track record. Once they are officially on your call center team, provide them with all of the necessary tools and training to stay organized on the job. These things can make a significant difference when it comes to customer satisfaction and your bottom line.
Knowing which skills make for a strong call center agent is one thing, but it is absolutely critical that hiring managers think about these skills and how they will help new prospects grow into the role and provide the best service possible.
Some candidates possess the skills upon hire and can strongly benefit from coaching sessions, simulations, and training for any areas that need improvement. Managers can set up their teams to achieve the best results and meet all customer demands by making informed decisions during call center interviews.
Simplicity VoIP offers a robust offering s for call centers. Check out a list of our features here. Connect with us to learn more about how we can help your call center maintain efficiency and productivity.