February 11, 2021

7 Important Call Center Skills For Agents

Call center agents are a little bit like superheroes. They have to solve problems, deal with difficult people, and still do their job correctly. There are some vital call center skills for agents that need to be learned to do that.
We all know the importance of inbound call centers when it comes to customer service. They are the places that everyone calls when they have a problem with anything from computer software to vacuum cleaners. However, all of the call centers worldwide have in common that customers want resolutions on the first call.

The initial contact of a call center agent is the most crucial element of any call center, and how the agent handles those contacts is vital to your business.

In this article, we will take a look through some of the essential skills for agents to make a call go as well as possible.

7 Essential Call Center Skills for Agents in 2020

While all call center reps need many skills, there are seven areas of proficiency that you will need regularly. If you can master these skill sets, you will be the ideal candidate for the common call center.
Here is a short skills list that will help you build strong customer relationships and let you go the extra mile:

  • Product Knowledge
  • Attention to detail
  • Great Communication Skills
  • Multi-Tasking
  • Compassion and Friendliness
  • Composure and Quick Thinking
  • Good Attitude and Friendly Tone

While they are not the only call center agent skills that center managers will look for, they are essential. However, telling you the most relevant skills you need is no good without going into them in a little bit more detail:

Extensive Knowledge of The Product

Answering dozens of calls in one day accurately can easily mean that you have to cover hundreds of different issues or questions. Therefore, an agent has to have extensive knowledge of the product or service that they are selling.
Having previous experience of the product will help everything from technical issues that a customer may face to creating a good sales pitch.
Not only do they need the knowledge of the product, but they also need to understand the company and its principles too.
The conditions that a call center agent can find themselves in can require quick thinking to provide a great service level. Therefore, if they have no product experience, you may need to have a training session or two to get up to speed.
Remember that the first agent is likely, and hopefully, the only person that the caller will need to talk to to get their issues resolved. Only having to speak to one person often makes you feel understood, valued, and confident in the product and service. Remember, retention of customers is as important as the acquisition of new.

Attention To Details

For any good customer experience, active listening is vital. Listening for details and note-taking in real-time are key to problem-solving and customer satisfaction, and they are the primary goals for call centers. When it comes to attention to detail, there are many aspects that you need to consider. For example, you will have to have great organizational skills and verbal communication to help solve customer issues, whether working in inbound calls or outbound calls.

While we have already spoken about the product itself, you will still need an in-depth knowledge of complex issues and even have excellent problem-solving skills to meet call deadlines and customer requests.  However, it doesn’t matter how much you know about the service or product you are selling if you do not pay close attention. As a call center agent, customer service is your job. However, what service is the customer going to get if you do not have effective communication skills and miss vital information?
At best, you will be scored lower on that call because you missed the point on the scorecard. However, at worst, you are going to miss a piece of information. And that could mean the difference between a resolution and an escalation.
One thing that you do need to remember, though, is that it is not just attention to detail on the phone that is important. You may have a caller who is going to ring you back about an issue. That means you may need to take notes about the call and problem and how it may get resolved. That could get very messy. For example, if you have ten calls in a day, and six of those will call you back tomorrow, you may get confused with the information you note.
Therefore, you must have excellent attention to detail on your desk, notes, and recordings too. Attention to detail often gets overlooked as being “nit-picky.” But it could mean the difference between OK customer service and excellent service.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is another point that is sometimes not looked into as much as it should be. Yes, we all know that you need to have a voice that people can understand, but that is not all there is to it.
Excellent customer service from any call center agent needs to start with great verbal communication skills. If you are on the phone with customers and lack active listening skills, you may well miss a vital question that could be the failure of a first call resolution.
Inbound call centers are challenging to work in for call center representatives. The primary reason for that is you are much more likely to experience frustrated customers day after day, week after week. So, the question is, how do you turn them into satisfied customers?
Some agent skills necessary here are; maintaining positive language, using active listening, and understanding the customer demands, all while retaining an attitude of friendliness, putting the customers at ease.
As an agent, you will be talking to many people from all walks of life, all with different accents and ways of saying things. You will need to be able to communicate with everyone in a way that they can understand you. Also, so that you can show them you know what you mean, without sounding unfriendly. That can be a challenging task for a lot of people.
If you are not clear, concise, and helpful at the same time, you may give the customer a solution to their problem, but they may not realize it. That can lead to an unhappy customer, and worse, you could lose them and anyone they tell about the service, all together.

Versatility

As I said earlier in the article, you are likely to encounter many different issues during phone calls, from technical problems to demanding customers and many distractions. Some call centers even take calls for various companies, all in one day. The fast-paced environment can become very frustrating and confusing. While customer service teams always have the option to call a manager, that is not something that they will like if it happens on every call that you take.
Of course, that does not mean that you should shy away from seeking help when you need it. What it does mean, though, is to ensure that you really need it before you ask for it. When you are on the frontline of a flexible call center, that can be a tricky line to see.
Everyone wants to provide top-notch customer service, but with a variety of rules such as statements, deadlines, and of course, customer retention, you will need a variety of skills.
One other thing that is often overlooked is that customers’ attitudes can change quickly when they struggle with time management and meeting deadlines. They can start a call charming and polite and switch to an inappropriate and rude manner instantly. It would help if you altered your tone appropriately at the same speed to counteract the change without becoming rude yourself.

Compassion

As I have just spoken about versatility and the requirement to change your attitude when needed, soft skills such as emotional intelligence, empathy, and interpersonal skills are just as important. There certainly is a time that a customer service agent needs to assert themselves within customer interactions. However, more often than not, you need to be compassionate, even with frustrated callers.
Customers can become very upset and agitated instantly, or worse, they can start the call that way. You need to understand that they have an issue that could be significantly affecting them and their daily lives. For example, some people need the internet for work. If their service is not working for any length of time, they have customers who are becoming frustrated with them, they then take it out on you.

Being able to follow that up with an element of human touch. Seeing that their frustration is not aimed at you directly is a strong skill to possess. Compassion will let you see the customer’s problem very personally, but their attitude is not personal. Explaining to a customer that you understand and drawing from your own experiences will help.

Composure

Things get tough in a call center environment. That is certainly not a secret. Retaining your composure with frustrated callers will help both of the previous two sections and are essential service skills. One of the crucial skills for call center agents is composure or patience. Although I have spoken about compassion, which includes tolerance, poise is something different. Phone conversations with any customer base will require customer relationship management. Even when times get difficult, you still need to follow the rules of politeness.
For example, if a customer support agent has just finished a phone call with an angry customer, they can not go into the next call with the same mentality. Their service skills would not be good enough. They need to remain composed and have a positive attitude when answering the phone. Contact centers are so busy that the next call will likely happen only seconds after you end the previous call. Positivity will breed positivity. If you start a call in a bad mood because of the customer before, you will not help yourself in the next call. And that is likely to carry on all day.
A contact center agent should always be friendly to customers when answering calls and only change your attitude if the situation really needs it.

Attitude

Believe it or not, attitude is one of the primary service skills that are key performance indicators. That is because a bad attitude can lead to customer complaints.
A lot of people think that the only communication channel that you will ever need is the phone. However, with the current technology, calls from customers are becoming less frequent. Therefore, you need to have strong communication skills and be a skilled communicator, no matter what method they contact you with. Online chats still need the same statements as a calling customer, etc.

A smile in a face to face conversation is evident and will go a long way in customer relations. However, that is near impossible on the phone. Although some people can hear a smile, not everyone can. That is where enthusiasm and positivity help you a lot.
Answering the phone with the same positivity is one of the most critical call center skills that someone can have. Doing that will give your customers the feeling of reassurance and the ability to correct issues. If you answer the phone in a bad mood, it is only going to start badly. Remember, all of the sections above are added together into a positive attitude, one of the best skills you can have.

Call Center Skills – Conclusion

There is a lot to be said for a call center service agent, and their attitude is one of them. They will probably have many tough times and work in difficult conditions,  but there are more rewarding times than difficult ones. You need to have the essential skills for call center agents in mind every single call. If you remember these skills and attributes, you will go a long way in a call center. Remember, calls are not personal until you make them personal.
A successful call center will encourage call center agent skills and improve them through training sessions to optimize all phone calls performances. Using dedicated call center software will show you exactly where your agents are going wrong.
Contact us for more details about how we can help you.