The growing economy, technological advancements, and changes in consumer preferences have forced contact centers to not only change their operational strategies but also look deep into the hiring process. Hiring a great contact center agent is as vital as having an appropriate call center solution. During the recruiting process, candidates are screened based on a number of characteristics such as personality, soft skills, empathy, and motivation. But what are these contact center ‘agent skills’ that make one a top performer? Irrespective of your requirements, it’s useful to understand what makes a good contact center agent.
There are several important qualities that a top-performing agent utilizes to provide a quick and positive experience for a first-call resolution. With cutthroat competition in nearly every industry, a positive resolution on that very first call is an essential differentiating factor for brand perception and brand loyalty.
A contact center agent works in one of the most challenging environments today. They need to successfully balance the various demands of a call center job along with managing different types of customers on a daily basis. They are the face of the company and the first point of contact on behalf of the brand for the customers.
According to a study, after just one negative experience, 51% of customers say they would never do business with that company again. Thus, it is vital that an agent approaches each customer with a helpful and empathetic attitude. Contact center agents are the front face of your customer service, and so, must have the ability to satisfactorily resolve every issue while creating a memorable and effective experience for the customer. Refer to our all-in-one guide to know more about how to hire, train and manage frontline employees.
Qualities That Will Make You A Performing Star At Your Contact Center
Here are the top 7 qualities that all agents should have to deliver excellent customer service:
#1 : Empathy
Empathy is the soft skill that puts an agent in a good position with the customer. When you connect with a frustrated or dissatisfied customer and understand their concern, you humanize the experience and build trust. Empathy is important to start off any new connection or relationship.
If an agent has the ability to put themself into the customer’s situation it demonstrates loyalty to the customer and allows them to understand that the agent is:
- Thinking about their situation
- Feeling their perspective
- Acting on their behalf to become an advocate of quality support
How can agents benefit from Empathy? While approaching others in this open way, agents create a proactive response rather than a reactive one that results in enhanced customer service. Even if the fix is not straightforward, the customer will remember and be thankful for the efforts put in which is a good reflection on the agent and the organisation.
#2 : Active Listening
Active Listening is an essential communication skill that gives an opportunity to shape the conversation your way. To be an active and effective listener is to fully absorb the information given by the customer. When restating the issue, agents are able to not only prove to the customer that they are listening but also get feedback on their understanding of the issue.
An agent gains valuable insight from the customer and determines the best way forward through active listening. As an active listener, a contact center agent will make fewer errors and conserve time.
Authentic and meaningful experiences are valued by customers and they help build customer relations. 7 out of 10 consumers say they would spend more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.
The Modern Workplace Demands Soft Skills and can set a great employee apart from a good one. “If hard skills, or technical skills, reflect what an employee does, then a soft skill, or non-technical skill, reflects how they do it.”
To demonstrate active listening, it is important to be present and remain ready to serve. Following are a few steps to incorporate active listening :
- Avoid distractions such as accents, speech mannerisms, background noise, or internal feelings and thoughts.
- Keep an open mind during the conversation and do not interrupt.
- Wait for the customer to stop, or pause, and ask questions to clarify and ensure understanding.
#3 : Effective Communication
It is a customer service representatives’ duty to provide the customer with a quick and positive experience. While practicing effective communication, a correct and clear message should be understood by both the agent and the customer.
The agent must have a reliable understanding of each unique issue. Listening and asking proper questions can help them get to the bottom of a situation. If need be, they must be able to be correct without informing customers they are incorrect.
As there is a physical distance between a contact center agent and the customer, non-verbal gestures and expressions are not visible in the communication exchange. This means an agent is entirely dependent on using their communication skills to show consideration, courtesy and patience.
Having effective communication involves simple gestures such as referring to a caller by name or sincerely acknowledging the frustration or anxiety a customer feels. Customers are just like you and can tell if an agent is serious or merely trying to get to the next call as fast as possible.
#4 : Positive Attitude
A contact center agent must adapt their response to deepen the positive connection with the customer. This will help the customers to respond better and it becomes a whole lot easier to work with them.
If you approach the customer with a poor attitude, you’ll almost certainly send them right into the arms of your competitors. However, if you approach each contact with a pleasant attitude, you’ll discover that customers become more receptive, cooperative, and, eventually, loyal to your firm.
Even if you are unable to solve the customer’s concerns, a pleasant attitude might rescue you. Many times, you may have to provide alternative options that your consumers may find undesirable. An option presented with a positive attitude, on the other hand, may well do the trick.
An agent can improve the customer’s experience by demonstrating empathy and understanding unique customer inquiries, eventually leading the communication in a positive direction.
#5 : Friendly Nature
Traditionally, contact centres provided their agents with scripts to work from, and many businesses still do so. While this may be effective when dealing with typical difficulties or problems, it restricts an agent’s capacity to handle unexpected inquiries or requests effectively.
A warm and friendly connection is highly valued by customers. Basic vocabulary helps to make sure the customers understand all points of the conversation. It is essential that a call center agent can go the distance and keep a smile on their face. Maintain enthusiasm for the customer in a polite and approachable manner. Often we experience that customers are placed on hold while the contact center agent seeks a solution. This has a detrimental impact on customer satisfaction and, eventually, on the firm. According to a survey, as a group, Millennials are willing to spend an additional 21% for great care.
Agents at call centres must be able to address any problem that arises. This frequently necessitates a degree of ingenuity on their side in order to arrive at a solution that will please the customer while also serving the best interests of the organisation.
#6 : Ability to Handle Pressure
Complex issues and timing can create pressure on any agent. The key is to stay focused on what needs to be accomplished. Stay calm and focus on the customer’s journey.
Having the knowledge and capability to achieve the call resolution objective gives an agent the confidence to handle any challenge. This includes: handling frustrated customers, achieving sales targets, excelling service KPI’s, and managing multiple customers in a go.
The ability to handle pressure is a valuable skill and is best toned through practice and patience. When an agent takes each moment in stride it is easier to resolve difficult circumstances and complete assigned tasks and responsibilities. Sidestep the drama and remain busy with the duties needed for a resolution. This action will always allow for managing pressure and achieving success.
#7 : Organizational Skills
A top-performing agent needs to effectively split attention between multiple duties simultaneously. As technology is advancing agents are expected to handle customer conversations on multiple channels at the same time. With rise to meet growing customer expectations the ability to multitask for speed and efficiency is a proactive action to achieve a positive resolution. Our blog “5 Ideas To Transform Your Contact Center” talks specifically about a few strategies that contact centers can implement to transform their business.
Often to deal with more than one task at a time requires practice. A prepared strategy and training will empower overall habits to ensure an efficient use of time and resources. A customer must believe in their agent and know that the agent is equipped and competent to handle their unique issue. Every second counts at every phase of the process. Track and measure each point of contact to maintain consistency and build trust.
Improvisation is a constant process. Technology will keep advancing at lightning speed and agents, customers and organizations would need to keep evolving. To further know in detail about how to hire, train and manage frontline agents, refer to our latest guide.
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‘All jobs are important’ —While we all knew this, the pandemic really put the frontline employees on center stage and made us acknowledge that they