A call center is only as strong as its agents, so how do you spot the stand-outs?
We all know working as a call center agent can be difficult. Agents are expected to be empathetic and friendly, yet knowledgeable and professional all while walking the fine line between pleasing their callers and following protocol for their company. Factor that in with the occasional angry caller, a stressful work environment, and the dreaded headset-hair, and it’s not hard to see why agent attrition is such a common problem for call centers.
Anyone who has ever managed a call center knows that there are good agents and there are great agents and the most successful agents are able to balance a diverse range of traits. So what exactly is it that sets them apart?
1. Strong communication skills
Obviously, when the main function of your job is to communicate with callers, communication skills are vital. Of course, agents need to be able to speak or write in a way that clearly conveys the messages they are trying to send, but that’s only part of this skill. The other (occasionally neglected) half of communication is listening. When call center agents can put together both halves of the communication puzzle, they can take the customer’s experience to another level.
2. Team player attitude
A call center is no place for ego and showboating. We’re all at our best when we can work together to solve problems quickly and effectively. When employees stand behind their company’s values and goals, everyone wins.
3. Calm in chaos
Think about it: call center agents probably interact with more angry customers and difficult situations in one day than most people do in a whole month. A big component of a successful call center agent’s skill set is keeping a level head while assisting customers and not letting negative interactions impact their attitude for the rest of the day. Successful call center agents know that keeping their cool in the midst of chaos is the key to providing the best service possible.
Never underestimate the power of a smile, even over the phone. When customer service is the name of the game, it’s important to have friendly agents on your team. Think about it: these people are on the front lines, interacting with your customers. The way your business is perceived is directly related to the agents your customers are interacting with.
The most successful call center agents are not simply satisfied with the knowledge they have. These agents are eager to take on new challenges. When your agents are motivated to learn more, they provide a better experience for your callers.
As important as it is for your agents to be friendly and personable, it is also important for them to know how to conduct themselves professionally with their callers. The best agents know that there is a time and a place for everything, but when in doubt, they always veer toward the more professional route.
Empathy is a vital skill for successful call center agents. Being able to put themselves in the caller’s shoes and show the caller that they care about their issue is perhaps one of the most important benchmarks of a successful call center agent. Nothing is more frustrating to a caller than a sense of disinterest from the person who is supposed to be helping them. If your agents can approach their caller’s problems with a sense of empathy and understanding, it can really go a long way.