You have all the right tools and resources for your inbound call center: virtual contact center software with every key feature, top-of-the-line softphones and equipment, and more reporting dashboards than you could ever imagine.
But at the end of the day, a contact center is only as good as its agents. In this article, we’ll discuss the top 7 qualities of a successful call center agent and offer hiring tips that can help you identify agents who possess these traits.
1. Critical Thinking
While many call centers still provide their agents with specific scripts, many more are migrating to a different model. These call center managers prepare specific talking points based on common problems and issues, and leave agents with the task of crafting dialogue for a more natural customer interaction.
A successful call center agent can take those talking points and adapt them for use in unique and challenging situations, often at a moment’s notice.
Hiring for Critical Thinking
One of the best ways to screen candidates for critical thinking is to ask them to describe the biggest challenge they’ve faced with a client or customer. Then, prompt the potential agent to explain how they were able to resolve the situation, if at all.
This should give you a better understanding of two things:
- What the potential agent considers a challenge.
- What steps they might take in a similar situation in your call center.
2. Calm Under Fire
One of the most common reasons for agent turnover in a call center is burnout. This is hardly surprising, especially given the number of frustrated callers that agents interact with on a daily basis.
Agents who make it in the long run aren’t easily flustered. Even when a customer is yelling at them over the phone, successful call center agents keep their cool.
Hiring for Emotional Stability and Reliability
In this case, you might want to ask some basic questions, such as “How would you handle a call from an angry customer?” If you want to dig deeper, you might consider asking them to describe a specific example from past experiences.
Empathy is one of the most important qualities of a successful call center agent. When a customer calls with a problem or concern, your best agents are able to develop a strong rapport and make the caller feel that someone is listening and understanding them right away.
If your agents see customers as just another caller, or even a nuisance, you’re likely to encounter lots of problems with customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Hiring for Empathy
You can get a better idea of a potential agent’s ability to empathize with a customer in a number of ways.
- Ask the candidate about what motivates them in the workplace. People who are driven to help others are often a good match for customer service roles.
- Ask the candidate why they want to work in your call center. If they talk about the desire to provide great customer service or helping others overcome problems, then you might have found a good fit.
A successful call center agent has to be an effective multi-tasker. In addition to attending to customer needs on the phone, they also spend substantial time updating records in the CRM, taking notes, and completing other post-call duties.
In order to complete all of these tasks quickly and accurately, your agents have to be organized and efficient.
Hiring Organized Call Center Agents
Many call center managers screen for organization before scheduling the interview by checking for errors in a candidate’s application or resume.
During the interview itself, you might consider asking the candidate how he or she has effectively juggled multiple tasks at once in previous positions. It’s important to push the candidate to provide specific, real life examples here.
5. Strong Language and Communication Skills
Although this might seem like a given, it’s definitely worth mentioning in a discussion about the qualities of a successful call center agent.
It’s also worth noting that good communication isn’t just about speaking. An effective call center agent is able to actively listen to the caller, process the information, and develop and describe a solution in a quick and accurate manner.
Hiring Good Communicators
You can usually get a good read on a candidate’s communication skills during the interview itself. However, you can use role-playing activities to see how the potential hire might listen, respond, and resolve a typical problem in the call center environment.
6. Knowledge Retention
In a fast-paced call center environment, the ability to quickly absorb and retain knowledge is very important. For one thing, there simply isn’t enough time to look up the answers to common questions that customers ask about your company’s policies and products. Plus, customers inherently have more confidence in an agent who can answer their question quickly, rather than constantly putting them on hold to consult the knowledge base or another agent.
Hiring for Knowledge Retention
Screening candidates for the ability to absorb and assimilate information quickly can be difficult. But, there are still some questions that you can use to gain a better understanding of the potential hire’s capabilities:
- Ask the candidate to describe a time when he or she had to learn a new product or service in a short period of time.
- Ask the candidate how they learn, and what techniques they use to absorb new information quickly.
7. Team Player
Making and taking calls may seem like a solitary role, but in reality, successful call centers are staffed by agents who act as a team. Qualities like assertiveness and sociability are often present in team players. These kinds of agents can help boost overall performance and morale.
Hiring Team Players for Your Call Center
There are several questions that you can use to determine whether a potential call center agent would be a strong team player. Some sample questions include:
- Tell me about a time when you were able to help a team member.
- Describe what being a team player means to you, and why you think it is important in a call center environment.
Recruiting Successful Call Center Agents
Looking for additional resources on hiring and training your inbound call center agents? Explore the articles below for more information: