Call center employees wear many hats! Agents are tasked with providing customer service, solving customer problems, and conducting research — all with a smile and a positive attitude.
While call center agents rely on hard skills — or technical skills — to handle contact center technology, call center soft skills are just as critical for success. Sometimes referred to as “transferrable skills”, these skills are made up of a person’s personality traits, habits, and behaviors.
Contact center agents develop soft skills through their own life experiences, and use them to provide a positive, customer experience. This type of skill-set is also necessary to foster a positive work environment.
Many employers value soft skills over hard skills, since most hard skills can be acquired through call center training. After all, it’s easier to teach someone how to use a computer system — it’s much more difficult to help them empathize with a customer.
Let’s go through some essential soft skills for a contact center agent, and how they help assure a strong customer experience.
Communication doesn’t start without listening. Specifically, active listening entails a complete focus on the customer’s words, processing and understanding those words, resisting the urge to interrupt, and responding in a thoughtful, validating manner.
In a contact center, agents are faced with countless problems mentioned by customers. To fully grasp the customer’s issue and to find the relevant resource to help that customer, agents must engage in active listening. Moreover, active listening is essential in dealing with irritated customers
Call center agents require strong communication skills to do their jobs. Agents should channel clarity and professionalism in the way they communicate with customers. Additionally, they should be able to transfer their knowledge of products and services into understandable, accessible communication to a customer. Clear communication promotes quicker resolution, while professionalism improves customer satisfaction.
Role play is a great form of call center agent training that helps agents learn how to listen, understand, and communicate.
Since call center agents deal with customers, who at the end of the day are human, an appetite for change is essential. As contact centers use call monitoring and other technology to measure progress, agents must be adaptable to new ways of doing business to ensure processes line up with customer needs.
Changes requiring adaptability might look like extra training or mentorship to adapt to changing customer needs, or new technology to improve efficiency.
Many calls that an agent receives entail listening to a problem and then finding a solution. Agents must think fast and identify a customer’s problem, evaluate the customer’s needs, and then find a solution.
Problem-solving is a soft skill that requires a sense of initiative and autonomy, as well as adaptability to respond to new problems effectively. Effective problem-solving skills can improve average handle time and customer satisfaction.
Customers are forced to be patient when calling call centers, even though most customers hate waiting. The least an agent can do is practice that same patience in taking care of a customer’s needs. Patience for an agent might look like waiting for a customer to finish sharing their story and experience, especially if the customer is confused or upset.
While some customers might not immediately acknowledge an agent’s patience, they will certainly notice an agent’s impatience. This is an important soft skill that is essential for customer loyalty and problem resolution.
Many callers to a call center have a problem they want to deal with. Some customers might feel confused, upset, and sometimes, downright angry! Empathy from an agent comforts worried customers and shows them that the call center values their experience. It’s important to make a customer feel supported and valued throughout a confusing or difficult time.
Curious about your agents’ soft skills? Fonolo’s call monitoring and analytics help assess agents’ communication and problem-solving skills and offer the required data to improve customer experiences.