Customer service is one of the keys to a business’s success. This is especially true for companies with a large influence and market to cater to, where having a team of people who can attend to the needs of the consumers at any time of the day is essential.
A call center agent is the usual job position that is given the responsibility of working on customer relations, and they are the first line of communication when customers have an issue or concern.
But a call center agent’s job isn’t easy, as there are several unique skills one must acquire in order to carry out the responsibility efficiently and effectively.
On top of the usually expected qualifications for this type of job, there are a few other soft skills a call center agent must have in order to be successful in his line of work and to be fit for the role.
Whether you are an HR officer looking into hiring a great team or an aspiring agent yourself, here are some significant skills that you must possess to be a successful call center agent.
A call center agent is a person responsible for handling the issues or concerns of a customer with regard to a certain product or service, or reaching out to a lead in order to market the same goods.
They communicate with customers through various channels depending on the nature of the work, but among the most common are through emails and making calls.
Inbound and outbound calls are the two types of calls that call center agents make as part of their work.
Inbound calls are when customers call the company and the agent is handling the resolution of complaints or issues or any type of assistance that they can provide to the callers.
Outbound calls, on the other hand, are when the call center agent himself reaches out to the customer to offer their company’s products or services. In some cases, it also involves calling a previous caller to assess whether or not the issue they initially called for was resolved to their satisfaction.
Despite being generally perceived to have a responsibility confined only to calling customers, a call center agent has a wide array of responsibilities to uphold. Some of them include:
Empathy is one’s capacity to be on the same page with another person’s emotions and share their struggles, as in putting yourself in another person’s shoes.
As a call center agent, you or your applicant are expected to spend most of your time speaking with customers to help them address concerns and problems. To be an effective communicator, you must be able to empathize with your callers and see them eye to eye, ultimately providing a course of action for the rectification of such concerns.
It is important that a call center agent has a full mastery of showing empathy to customers because the concerns callers have are varied. Your ability to understand and assess the gravity of those concerns will depend on the level of empathy you can extend toward others.
For example, you might get a call from a senior citizen who is asking questions about your company’s policy on senior discounts and why they didn’t receive their senior coupons or something similar.
While it could be a simple case of a greedy customer trying to get free stuff, it could also be the case of someone going through a tough financial crisis. Being able to empathize with their need to cut down expenses and showing that support by doing your best to solve the issue is something that customers are unlikely to forget.
Statements along the lines of ‘I am sorry to hear that, I will do my best to help you’ help the customers feel a sense of relief knowing that the person they are talking to has been in their shoes and knows the right thing to do.
Empathy is a non-negotiable skill a call center agent must have, and it will go a long way in fostering relationships with people and retaining the support of the customers.
While call center agents are provided the necessary training to quickly resolve customer concerns and issues, there are instances wherein an isolated case arises and it was not part of the training. In these instances, a good call center agent should be able to devise solutions despite the lack of training for that specific problem.
Additionally, time is a constant constraint for a call center agent, as you always have to resolve concerns in the quickest way possible. This does not mean that you have to compromise the efficiency of your work though, which is why a quick-witted call agent or customer service rep is highly preferred in a business.
Having the ability to come up with a way to solve the concern in a short period of time not only reflects your skill as a call center agent but also heightens the company’s image in terms of its customer service.
If you are looking into hiring someone who wants to generate substantial value for your brand, then this skill must be something you require your call center agents to already have, or at least develop over time.
Whether you are a customer service representative calling to market your product or just trying to patch up a customer’s problem with the product, it is important that you show a high level of proficiency with respect to what your company does or sells.
One reason why this is a necessary skill to have is that customers are particularly happy knowing that the person they are talking with has extensive knowledge of the product and can accurately provide a resolution for their concern.
For example, if you’re running a fintech company that develops crypto mobile apps, you’ll want to make sure that your call center agents are well-versed in blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts since it’s likely that customers will call with related issues.
Moreover, having great technical know-how means agents themselves will be able to settle queries and concerns at lower average holding times (AHT). This increases their stats at work, reduces lead response times, and will bring positive feedback to the company as a whole.
Ultimately, a technically proficient call center agent will be successful in his work as they are able to provide the most realistic and appropriate recommendations to style customer concerns, even if they are of a higher complexity than usual.
Being a call center agent deals with a great number of people, and depending on the nature of the work of the company you will be representing, you might be responsible for the concerns of a long line of callers each day.
In this regard, it is highly likely that a newbie will encounter some errors in organizing the customers’ data and providing them the adequate help fitted for their specific concerns.
This is why it is important to look for an agent that shows great organizational skills even when they are not taking calls. Having a work desk that actually looks well organized and promotes eagerness to work is a good sign that an employee will be capable of handling large loads of data for safekeeping.
Call center agents should also be able to help the company reduce the time it spends in organizing client data by organizing it themselves and possibly referencing the data in the event that a future dilemma arises and it is necessary to look back on past records.
While it is expected that you will be talking to a handful of people each day as a call center agent, it is also expected that you will be interacting with people who have varying personalities.
You will be lucky to meet those who are cooperative and kind, but sometimes, there are people who will be difficult to deal with.
This is where tolerance and patience come in, and it’s also where being flexible and able to adapt to different situations is a major plus.
As an agent, you should be able to compose yourself even when an irate customer bombards you with unflattering comments. You should be able to keep up with a chatty caller’s talks, or just reciprocate the positive energy that a kind customer has given you from the start of the conversation.
In all these situations, you have to make sure that the goal has been reached, quality customer service has been provided, and the customer leaves the call with their concern resolved.
For a call center agent to be considered successful in their work, they must be able to compose themselves even in the most unflattering situations, and even when the irritation of the customer has gone too far.
No matter how hard a customer has been yelling at you, you have to be able to carry out your job professionally and remain calm.
In some cases where the customer is already agitated and seems to not have a clear grasp of what to do with their issue, having the ability to remain calm will help them regain their composure as well, providing an assurance that everything will get better and you have the situation under control.
A common misconception about a call center agent’s work is that it is boring and routine. It’s actually the opposite of routinary, as you need to be creative in devising solutions for concerns that do not have a predetermined course of action to resolve.
An ideal candidate will not run out of ideas to keep a customer occupied, introduce to them the service or product the company offers, and provide solutions or answers to the concerns they may have.
As a call center agent, your customer’s satisfaction with the call may depend on the creativity you give off when assisting them. If the customers find your response to be monotonous or if you sound as if you’re only reading from a script, they might not deem the interaction as effective.
While this skill is also considered a fundamental skill for a customer service representative, most people overlook it and still hire a person even if they don’t have commendable communication skills.
Being able to answer questions without having to think twice, carrying a conversation well without sounding too transactional, and empathizing with your callers over the phone are some things a person with effective communication skills can do without breaking a sweat.
Being a great listener is also an important trait of any respectable call center agent. They must be able to listen to and understand why the customer is calling in the case of inbound calls, as this is the key to developing an effective course of action for the resolution of their problems.
If you operate a call center business, the communication skills of the candidate can be gauged through a short interview, which will test their listening and speaking skills.
Although not guaranteed to determine whether or not a candidate is fit for the job based on how they speak and understand, it’s still a recommended part of the hiring process to have a grasp of the person’s ability to communicate.
Being a call center agent is no easy job, and it requires a great deal of effort and training to become successful in this line of work.
The aforementioned skills of an effective customer service representative or call center agent need not all be there in every candidate you interview, but it is preferred that the candidate has the potential to learn such skills through continuous training and commitment to the job.
Whether you are an aspiring call center agent or a person who manages a company specializing in customer relations, having this particular set of skills will aid you and the company you represent in delivering value to customers.
In return, the customers will put their support in the business, buy the product or service, and the enterprise will be able to realize substantial profits that will help them connect to a wider market.
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