Contact Center Trends

WFH edition: 9 top qualities of a successful contact center agent

By Shauna Geraghty

0 min read

Discover the nine qualities of a successful contact center agent.

The recent coronavirus outbreak has put unprecedented pressure on the customer service industry. Contact centers are dealing with a surge of calls from customers who often have urgent needs, increasing the variety and level of difficulty of questions. Agents must be well-trained and prepared. 

Businesses are turning to self-service tools and digital channels to relieve incoming call volumes, but many are also scaling their workforce by rapidly hiring customer service agents or repurposing other teams’ members to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) and answer service calls.

These nine top qualities of a successful agent serve as a guide for organizations moving quickly to maintain a high level of customer service in these uncertain times.

1. Knowledge retention.

Agents need to learn and memorize a good amount of information about your company. By the time they get up and running, they should know the ins and outs of your product or service and be on board with your brand’s philosophy.

Contact center agents should recognize when they can’t resolve the issue alone and know how to engage peers, supervisors or subject matter experts for help. As time progresses, an agent should be able to remember answers to frequently asked questions and troubleshoot with ease. If your candidates can’t quickly learn and retain information, hiring them could ultimately hurt your support team.

2. Attention to detail.

Being a contact center agent can sometimes be monotonous. Agents may answer the same questions and receive the same complaints day after day. The danger is that agents can become complacent as a result. Agents that fall into this tend to assume that they understand customer issues without fully listening or seeking clarification and are prone to offer unwanted canned responses.

61% of customers say that the process of engaging with customer service organizations and getting their questions answered has gotten harder or remained the same. Your agents should stand above the rest by following up with customers to make sure their issues are resolved to their satisfaction before ending the call.

3. Organization

Agents that work in busy contact centers should be incredibly organized. They need to juggle multiple tasks at once (e.g., checking the knowledge base, updating the CRM and taking notes in your helpdesk system), all while addressing customer needs. Staying organized will help reduce errors during this process.

Hire people who arrive to meetings on time, submit requested materials and have a track record of being organized. Ensure they have all the right tools (e.g., contact center software that integrates with your business tools) and the environment they need to stay organized. All of these factors have an impact on customer satisfaction.

4. Flexibility.

In a busy contact center, agents not only handle dozens of different calls per day, but also interact with customers with challenging personalities. Agents should be flexible enough to meet the needs of your diverse customer base. Hire agents that can go with the contact center flow.

In addition, you may also need to have some of your agents work challenging hours such as holidays, nights and weekends. Remember this when scouting out new agents. Flexibility is key.

5. Friendly.

Agents are the frontline of your organization. If they project a warm and friendly image, customers will be delighted with their experience. A successful agent consistently maintains a positive demeanor day in and day out. Hire agents that can go the distance with a friendly attitude. Once you have hired your team, nurture a culture that encourages friendliness and discourages burnout. Your customers will thank you.

6. Calm under pressure.

A high-quality contact 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 customers agents have to interact with daily. Maintaining a calm demeanor in all interactions and not letting frustrated customers get to them personally will get any contact center agent far in the industry. During the hiring process, ask candidates how they handle pressure and check for references with their previous employers.

7. Effective communication skills.

Contact center agents must hold top-notch communication skills. However, communication doesn’t just mean speaking over the phone. In fact, 59% of customers use three or more different channels for customer service.

Effective communication also involves listening to the customer, digesting the information and conveying a solution quickly and effectively. The agent should speak or write clearly, using basic vocabulary. If they can communicate effectively, this will bode well for service quality. In fact,  6 out of 10 customers say that a pleasant and knowledgeable representative was key to their positive customer experience.

8. Speed.

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 customers an agent can handle, the fewer agents you need to keep your contact center running smoothly.

Speed is also very important to customers. 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent on the phone and expect businesses to respond to their emails within an hour. Customers want their problem to be solved fast. A fast-working contact center agent can reduce average speed to answer (ASA) and maintain service levels for the entire team.

9. Creativity.

Finally, a successful agent needs to be creative. You need agents that can find workable solutions for any problems thrown their way. Creativity helps agents with meeting customer expectations and can also increase customer satisfaction.


Knowing the top qualities of a good agent will save you time in the hiring process. Keep in mind, most of these qualities can be taught and fostered. You can also hold training sessions to help teach skills to your existing agents or even have them participate in online courses and certifications.

This is an updated edition. To read the original, go here.

The Future Of Workforce Engagement In The Contact Center


The future of workforce engagement in the contact center


Shauna Geraghty

As the first U.S. employee, Shauna helped to scale Talkdesk to over 1,000 employees in 7 offices globally. During her tenure, she has built Talkdesk's Marketing, Talent and HR functions from the ground up. Shauna has a doctorate in clinical psychology and has applied foundational knowledge from the field of psychology to help propel Talkdesk along its hyper-growth trajectory.