Call centers are more than just businesses that take calls on behalf of another company. These organizations represent the companies they service, provide customer support, solve problems and much more.
Because call centers can be complex and have a lot of moving parts, it’s important that the call center agents have the skills necessary to produce positive results. Below are seven of the most critical call center skills that every agent should acquire before taking on the role of a call center agent.
The first thing you need to know about your potential hires is their level of technical expertise. This includes things like knowledge of the phone system, such as a Power Dialer, computer programs, or other tools used by the company.
If they are familiar with these types of phone systems, that is a major plus! You likely, won’t need to spend as much time training that individual.
If they are not familiar with these types of systems, it shouldn’t immediately disqualify them, unless you are only hiring experienced agents. As long as a candidate can prove their technical skills with similar tools and prove that they are fast learners, you can consider them for the job. If they do have experience in this area, then you can move on to more important questions.
Data analysis skills are a necessary part of being a call center agent. The data reflects many variables of the telemarketing process and can help the agent forecast and make changes accordingly. Because data is a driving factor in the success of telemarketing campaigns, call center will use tools to help them gather the data.
A good call center software offers tracking & analytics. Take time to ask the candidate if they know anything about data analysis tools. If they do, ask what they think would be or are useful features in these tools? How often do they use the reports themselves? If they have experience using data analysis tools, they will be well equipped for the job.
Other general data analysis questions could be:
Luckily, with the use of cloud-based software, most of the work is done for the agent. With tools like the Fox TAS, agents can quickly build reports and track data.
A patient attitude goes a long way when dealing with irate customers. Being able to remain calm and collected even under pressure is key to keep things moving.
Since it is a soft skill, it can be rather hard to determine whether someone has it or not. One way to help determine if the candidate has the skills or not is to ask their references, give them examples to see how they would respond, and ask the candidate what soft skills they think are important for the job.
Why is this important for call centers and their employees?
Being able to maintain composure and focus during stressful situations allows agents to resolve the situation without resorting to anger. This will help them avoid getting into arguments and escalating the conflict. Actually, we have a whole article dedicated to tips for dealing with angry customers
To be efficient, call center agents should have good organizational skills:
Agents are expected to be able to handle omni-channel communication and many applications/tools through the software or cloud-based software they must use. Having great organizational skills means the agent will be able to quickly navigate the channels and software to ensure an organized process of doing the job.
In addition to listening carefully, agents need to clearly communicate with customers using appropriate language and tone. They should always make sure they’re speaking directly to the customer and never speak over them. If agents find themselves struggling to keep their voice calm and clear, you can give them the following advice as a manager:
There are many other communication techniques like these that help to create effective communication and many of these techniques can be taught, however the agent has to have a good understanding of this skill in order to be hired.
You can read more tips for talking to customers on the phone.
A call center agent has to respond quickly and accurately to a variety of calls at once. If they take too long to answer a question, it could mean a lost sale or worse yet, a dissatisfied customer who will spread negative word of mouth. This pressure makes it important for call center agents to be calm under pressure.
It is very important to think of ways to reduce the stress levels of your call center agents. Stress can cause a number of health issues, so it’s best to do what you can to keep them healthy and happy.
Here are some tips for reducing stress in your call center:
1) Make sure that your employees have a good work-life balance. If they don’t feel like their lives are balanced, then it will be difficult for them to focus on their job duties. They might also find themselves working longer hours than necessary just to make up for the lack of time spent with family and friends. This can lead to burnout among your staff.
2) Have an open line of communication between management and your agents. It should go both ways; managers need to know what’s going on at all times so that they can help resolve any issues as soon as possible.
A call center agent has to solve problems creatively and think outside the box in order to meet the needs of customers. A creative thinker will be able to come up with solutions to problems that others might overlook.
Creative thinking is important because it helps agents to deliver exceptional customer service. It enables them to develop innovative ways to resolve issues and be quick when providing answers to customer queries.
You know who is qualified to be your call center agent now, but do you know what kind of call center culture would work best for your team?