Great customer experience can only be achieved with great contact center agents. Low-performing agents contribute to high rates of agent attrition, costing contact centers a significant amount of money every year. This means that identifying and recognizing important contact center skills is not only critical in the day-to-day work lives of hiring managers, it also has a direct impact on the bottom line of your business. To assist, we’ve rounded up the top traits to help you find the call center agents who will give your team the biggest boost.
One of the most important qualities of a good contact center agent is how they treat customers. This might sound obvious, but being polite and friendly is essential since most customers can immediately sense a negative or apathetic attitude. When a customer is having trouble with a product, for instance, getting condescending or confrontational treatment from an agent will only exacerbate the problem and reflect poorly on all companies represented. Plus, you never know who’s on the other line. That’s why it's so important that agents are committed to being warm and friendly throughout the duration of every call.
A big challenge at any job is leaving personal issues at the door. Everyone has a bad day, but when you let those feelings interfere with the ability to do your job it can cause chaos. Since call center agents are constantly dealing with customers of all dispositions, a lack of professionalism can quickly send an interaction off the rails.
There may be days when an agent repeatedly gets connected with irate customers hurling abuse out of sheer frustration. This can be a stressful experience and how the agent handles the situation often determines whether or not they’ll ultimately be successful at their job. In all cases, an agent must be empathetic, respectful and understand that making an attempt to correct a problem is often the last thing an annoyed customer wants. Staying calm under pressure and handling the customer’s requests and questions in the face of adversity is one of the most-valuable contact center skills.
While contact center agents are often directed to stay on-script, inevitably a problem will arise that hasn’t been covered in training sessions. It’s during these moments that it’s critical an agent can think independently. That doesn’t mean attempting to solve the issue alone. Often times, it’s as simple as knowing when to ask for a manager’s assistance.
The ability to recall information quickly is one of the most underrated contact center skills. Agents are constantly being asked to study and memorize many different aspects of a particular product or service, along with the procedural path to serve the customer. Some of this knowledge can be acquired over time, but it helps if a prospective agent already has the knack to recall critical information immediately.
This trait may not come naturally to all agents, but thankfully that’s not always necessary. Call center agents should be able to exhibit the kind of can-do attitude to serve a customer no matter how pressure-filled or complex the situation. Many times, a call center team can build confidence in the agent by surrounding them with other qualified team members should any major problem arise.
For all the training a contact center provides a new hire, it can’t make them take pride in their work. That sense of self-determination must come from the personality of the potential agent. These types of workers are always open to feedback, learning, and trying to push themselves to be better at their position.
Due to the on-demand nature of the work, many contact centers are unable to offer traditional, 9-to-5 shifts for employees. When hiring call center agents, you must be able to count on the fact they’ll regularly show up when scheduled, whatever the time of day or night. And during those hours, you must also be able to rely on them to remain calm under pressure, stay productive and handle as many calls as necessary. Anything less just won’t cut it.
There are many other qualities of a good contact center agent, but these are some of the most important traits we’ve found that can make or break a good hire. Which ones did we leave out? Let us know in the comments and good luck in the hiring process!