Hiring an excellent call center agent is just as important as having the right call center software. Candidates can be screened based on a variety of criteria, such as personality, skill, fit and motivation, during the hiring process. Regardless of your list of prerequisites, it’s helpful to know exactly what makes a successful agent.
But before we talk about what makes a great call center agent, let’s talk about what a call center agent does.
An agent’s day-to-day responsibilities will greatly depend on the type of call center they work in. This is a general overview of the responsibilities a call center customer service agent may have:
Over the past few years, the way we communicate with one another has evolved tremendously. So, it’s not surprising that many companies are evolving their contact centers to be omnichannel. This means their agents can communicate with customers on several channels seamlessly. For example, an agent may help customers via telephone, email, social media, live chat, text, etc. A contact center agent should be comfortable providing service on every channel.
Most call center job are customer service positions, which means agents are often on the frontlines, directly communicating with customers when an issue arises. It’s an agent’s duty to quickly handle a customer’s problem, and to do so with a helpful attitude. This also requires problem-solving and researching skills. Agents need to know where to find the necessary information using the resources available to them.
This goes hand-in-hand with the duty above. The most important role of a customer service agent is to create a memorable experience for the customer. Regardless of the reason for the call, a great contact center agent will go above and beyond to ensure the interaction with the customer is a great one.
Being a contact center agent is more than just helping customers. Customer service agents often have various administrative duties that need to completed immediately after a call or throughout the day. This can be simply documenting customer interactions, updating a customer file, providing feedback to management, or pulling reports.
Here are 9 qualities that make for a successful call center agent.
An agent’s mission is to provide the highest quality support to customers. To accomplish this, they need to be able to learn and memorize a good amount of information about your company. By the time they get up and running, they should at least know the ins and outs of your product or service and be on board with your brand’s philosophy.
Call center agents should know when they can’t resolve the issue and who to transfer the call to if this is the case. As time progresses, they should be able to remember answers to frequently asked questions and troubleshoot with ease. If your candidates do not appear to be the type to be able to quickly learn and retain information, hiring them could ultimately have a negative impact on your provision of support.
Being a call center agent can sometimes be monotonous. Agents often answer the same questions and receive the same complaints day after day. The danger with this is that agents can become complacent as a result. Agents that fall into this tend to assume that they understand customer issues without seeking clarification and are prone to offering a quick, canned response.
This recipe for disaster is unfortunately incredibly common. In fact, consumers say that on average agents only answer their questions 50 percent of the time. Make sure your agents stand above the rest by checking in with customers to make sure their issues are resolved to their satisfaction before ending the call. Also, during the hiring process, if a candidate has errors in their resume, isn’t well groomed, or appears sloppy in some other way, pass them up for someone that appears to pay more attention to detail.
Agents that work in a busy call center should be incredibly organized. They need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once (i.e., checking the knowledge base, updating the CRM and taking notes in your helpdesk), all while attending to the customer’s needs. Staying organized will help reduce errors during this process, ensuring that they are completing after call work efficiently and allowing them to address customer needs more effectively.
To make sure your call center agents are organized, hire people who met all application process deadlines (i.e., arriving to the meeting on time, submitting requested materials, etc.) and have a track record of being organized. Once they are on the team, make sure they have the tools (i.e., call center software that integrates with your business tools and an effective CRM and helpdesk solution) and the environment they need to stay organized. These things can make all the difference in customer satisfaction and your bottom line.
Not only do call center agents in a busy call center handle dozens of calls per day, but they also interact with customers with challenging personalities. To make sure your agents are flexible enough to meet the needs of your diverse customer base, hire agents that can go with the flow.
They should be able to handle a chatty customer one moment and an angry customer the next. They should be able to roll with the punches and let the bad stuff slide off of them with ease (after providing a solution, of course). In addition, you may also need to have some of your agents work challenging hours: holidays, nights and weekends. Make sure that you remember this when scouting out new agents. Flexibility is key.
Agents are the frontline of your company. Make sure they are projecting a warm and friendly image and your customers will rave about their experience. Agents should be able to consistently maintain a positive demeanor and keep a smile on their face day in and day out. When hiring, make sure that your agents can go the distance with a friendly attitude. Once you have hired your team, make sure you cultivate a culture that encourages friendliness and discourages burnout. Your customers will thank you for it.
A high quality call center agent isn’t easily flustered. Some would argue that this is one of the toughest jobs to maintain, due to the number of frustrated callers agents interact with on a daily basis. A good agent will remain calm when someone is yelling at them over the phone or when they have a Chatty Cathy on the other end of the line who simply won’t let them get a word in edgewise. Keeping their cool throughout all of these situations and not letting the frustrated callers get to them personally will get any call center agent far in the industry. During the hiring process, ask them how they handle pressure and check in with their previous employers to see if what they say matches up.
This one is a given, but it’s still worth mentioning. Because a call center agent’s job is to communicate with callers, they should have top-notch communication skills. But communication doesn’t just mean speaking. Effective communication also involves listening to the caller, digesting the information and conveying a solution quickly and effectively. The agent should speak clearly, using basic vocabulary. If they can communicate effectively, this will bode well for the quality of your service. In fact, seventy-eight percent of consumers say that a competent service agent is the most important part of a happy customer experience. You simply can’t have competence without clear communication skills.
Quality agents should be fast and efficient. They should work quickly without sacrificing the quality of their work. This is important to your bottom line because the more callers an agent can handle, the fewer agents you need to keep your call center running smoothly. It’s also important to the callers themselves. They don’t want to wait around for a live agent (after all, 75 percent think it takes too long to reach a live agent). They want their call answered as soon as possible. A fast-working call center agent can reduce average speed to answer and service level for your entire team so your customers are more satisfied.
Finally, a strong agent needs to be creative. He or she should be able to come up with workable solutions for any problems thrown their way. It’s important that they’re creative because it’ll help them meet caller’s needs in the best way possible for both the company and the customer. This can also increase customer satisfaction. When agents resolve an issue effectively, 70 percent of the time, that customer will return and do business with the company again.
Truly successful call center agents can be challenging to find. But it helps to know what makes a good one when you’re looking to hire. Also, just because some of your current agents don’t possess all of the skills of a successful call center agent, doesn’t mean they won’t one day. Remember, most of these qualities can be taught and fostered over time. You can even hold a training session to teach these skills to your existing agents to get everyone on the same page.
Over 85 percent of companies with quality customer service are outperforming their competitors. Don’t you want to be one of them?