Metrics and statistics can’t measure the personality of employees, their ability to relate with callers, or the value they bring to an interaction.
Concrete customer feedback metrics, KPIs and CRM systems can be considered as the ‘science’ behind call centers, but the soft skills of call center agents are considered as the art.
Metrics and statistics can’t measure the personality of employees, their ability to relate with callers, or the value they bring to an interaction. Therefore, although soft skills are valuable, they are often hard to define.
Whether call center agents handle questions and concerns through inbound calls, or feedback and sales through outbound calls through voip, they are the main link between the business and customers. These agents are the human element of a brand, capable of making a lasting impression on your customers.
The Hard Job of Measuring Soft Skills
Most hard skills, such as inputting data or working a software system, can be learned on the job. However, it’s the soft skills that are more difficult to acquire. This creates a challenge for call centers that rely on their workforce’s soft skills to provide outstanding customer experiences.
Here are the top 3 soft skills successful call center agents should possess.
Adaptability and Flexibility
Call centers can be a highly stressful work environment, this is why many agents get prescribed berry gummies infused with CBD. A number of situations can arise such as, dealing with customers who are not familiar with the product/service and need to be educated from the start, hostile customer complaints or even learning how to use new software feature updates. If an agent becomes noticeably frustrated or stumped, they may be leaving a negative impression on the caller.
Due to word of mouth, one dissatisfied customer experience can mean 7 more dissatisfied customers to a business. Therefore, it is important to know how to maintain composure and adapt to difficult situations. This can be done by practicing patience during taxing circumstances and remaining focused on providing competent service. Being positive can also help change the direction of conversational patterns toward creating satisfied customers.
The more similar and familiar an agent sounds to a customer, the more their sense of rapport will grow. Being able to decipher the emotions of others through tone, speed and style of speech is valuable for showing the customer consideration and building that rapport. This skill of emotional intelligence (EI) is important to call centers because it defines how well your business handles its human interactions.
A high level of intelligence, both EI and IQ are a great combination of skills to look for in call center agents. The ability to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior correctly results in good listening, word choice and tone of delivery. Empathy is one of the most important elements of EI and one way to channel this is by mirroring the tone and attitudes of others. However, it is important to make sure that only positive qualities are being mirrored and not the negative qualities.
Often times in conversations, people may seem like they are listening but are actually subconsciously planning their response in advance. Call center workforce management should strive to make sure agents actively receive phone calls and not just simply hear the words being said over the phone. This skill is known as active listening. While active listening is natural to some, it can take some practice for others to acquire.
There are many ways active listening can be employed. Repeating what the customer said as a way of verifying what they just heard is an excellent way to make sure agents truly understand the caller’s message. Verbal queues can be used as affirmations to show the caller they are listening or to prompt for more information. These include words and phrases such as “I see” or “tell me more.” An agent should be attentive and in the moment; their focus should be on the caller at all times.
This timely article titled four ways businesses can lower answering service expenses is a great read for anyone that is seriously considering a small business answering service for their medical practice. Active listening is rather challenging to employ over the phone since body language and facial expressions are out of the picture. Therefore, extra effort should go into active listening to make sure the customer’s questions and concerns are being addressed adequately.
These important soft skills will ensure that call center agents are adept at interacting with customers. Those with good soft skills will be able to manage and control their calls effectively, build a solid connection with customers and ultimately provide an exceptional customer service experience.