Call center representatives are an important part of many customer service teams because they are the individuals that customers are interacting with on a daily basis. Positive customer service interactions are imperative to a company’s success, so they need to make sure they are hiring people who have the necessary skills, qualities, and experience to provide the best customer service.
What is the role of a call center representative?
A call center refers to the department of customer service specialists who manage incoming and outgoing phone calls to customers. Depending on their role within the call center, a call center agent’s responsibilities can include providing support, answering questions about a company’s products and services, or connecting with customers about offers and opportunities. Those who work as outbound call center agents are responsible for making phone calls to current and potential customers for the purpose of cold calling and validating leads, telemarketing sales, collections, surveys, non-profit or charity fundraising, appointment setting, and proactive customer service notifications. An inbound call center agent’s job description, on the other hand, is to answer the incoming phone calls as a means to responding to customer questions, handling customer complaints and other feedback, resolving customer concerns and problems, giving support and directions to customers, and taking orders and processing payments. At some companies inbound and outbound agents may be separate positions, however some call centers have their agents performing both roles.
The rise of remote work and an increase in various types of digital technology have also had an impact on the role of a call center representative. Rather than a room of people fielding phone calls, call centers may now have people spread all over the globe who are answering and making these calls. Customer service is no longer limited to just phone calls either. Omnichannel support is becoming increasingly popular, so many companies are using multiple channels in addition to the phone, including email, chats, social media, and more, to interact with customers. Many companies are now switching to “contact centers” instead of call centers for this reason.
What skills do you need to be a call center representative?
Call center representatives are an important part of a customer service team because they are interacting with customers and can have a significant influence on a customer’s satisfaction and feelings of loyalty toward a company. Therefore, it is crucial for companies to hire candidates that have the necessary call center representative skills. While outbound and inbound customer service representative skills may vary slightly since outbound call center agents are typically in more of a sales role, there are certain hard and soft skills that are beneficial for any type of call center representative. Hard skills refer to the skills that are required to complete a job and can be gained through hand-on experience, education, and training, whereas soft skills are interpersonal skills or personality traits and qualities. Call center representatives need both of these kinds of skills to be successful.
- Knowledge: Call center agents need to have thorough knowledge of their company’s products and services in order to efficiently answer questions and solve problems. They also need to have strong memory skills to be able to retain all of the information they are expected to know and relay.
- Clear communication skills: Communication skills are one of the most important types of skills for call center representatives because good communication is the cornerstone of excellent customer service. Being able to clearly and concisely communicate with customers and other team members is an essential part of the job.
- Active listening skills: Just as important as communication skills, active listening means that call center agents are truly listening to the customer and making them feel heard. This personalizes the experience for the customer and makes them feel valued.
- Patience: Call center agents may have to interact with difficult customers or repeatedly respond to the same kinds of questions and issues. It is imperative that they have inexhaustible patience no matter how challenging or redundant a situation might be.
- Empathy: Call center representatives need to be able to identify with and understand their customers. Whether a customer is angry or confused, responding with empathy is a way for the call center agent to diffuse heated situations and show the customer that they matter.
- Problem-solving: A large part of a call center agent’s job will be to assist customers with issues that they are having. They must be able to listen to and understand the problem, consider potential solutions, decide on the one with the best possible outcome, and follow through to resolve the issue.
- Time management: Time management is an especially important skill for call center agents because most companies expect their agents to deal with a high volume of customers in a day. They need to be able to quickly and effectively respond to questions and resolve issues while maintaining records of the customers and their interactions in order to minimize call and wait times thus increasing customer satisfaction.
What are the qualities of a good call center agent?
Along with the aforementioned skills, some of the most important qualities of a call center agent include high emotional intelligence (EQ) and a positive attitude, along with flexibility and adaptability. A high EQ means that call center representatives are able to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions as well as those of the customer. This helps them to be able to manage stress, practice self-control, connect and build relationships with others, practice self-control, and demonstrate empathy and kindness, all of which are key to good customer service. Having a positive attitude is a great quality for a call center agent because the role calls for someone with the propensity to look on the bright side, even when a situation is challenging or redundant. Flexibility and adaptability are also qualities of a good call center agent because they have to deal with various types of customers and problems throughout their day. Being able to easily adjust to meet each customer’s needs and situation is important.
What experience do you need to be a call center representative?
Although not all companies require their call center representatives to have specific job experience, many prefer that they have previous experience in some type of customer service role. Those who have worked in the hospitality or retail industries are typically good candidates for call center representatives because they have been in a position of working with a variety of people and managing customer interactions. Even if they don’t have all of the technical knowledge needed for the job, they usually have the call center soft skills that are necessary for successfully interacting with customers. Companies will certainly look more favorably on applicants that have experience with phone communication and the various systems and software that are utilized, but since technical skills can be taught after someone is hired, customer service experience is far more desirable for candidates looking to become call center agents.
What makes you a good candidate for a call center?
Someone who possesses many of these call center agent skills, qualities, and experience would be a good candidate for this type of job. If you are someone who is outgoing, warm and friendly, and enjoys helping people and talking on the phone, then a call center agent could be a good fit for you. Your resume should highlight the skill sets you have that would make you a successful call center agent, including communication skills, problem-solving skills, listening skills, and any relevant knowledge. Give specific examples of customer service knowledge or experience that would benefit you in this role. Most companies require a high school or equivalent degree for this type of job, and you can expect a call center agent’s salary to average $18 per hour, with a range of $10.34 to $25.96 an hour depending on the company and where it’s located.
How to Become a Good Call Center Agent
Having the prerequisite skills and qualities provide a great start for becoming a good call center agent, but there are things agents can do to improve even more.
- Be present: Show up to work on time, every day and interact with the customers and those around you. Call centers require the agents to actually be present to do their jobs.
- Be knowledgeable: Work to become an expert on the products and services your company offers. The better you know and understand the products and services then the better you can support customers who have questions or problems with them. Stay up-to-date on changes and new offerings so that you can speak knowledgeably and instill confidence in the customers.
- Know your metrics: Metrics are used by businesses to track, monitor and assess the success or failure of their employees and various practices. Know where to find your metrics and how to read them, so you know where you are doing well and where you need improvement.
- Value feedback: Just knowing your metrics doesn’t do anything to help you be more successful if you aren’t willing to make the changes necessary to improve. Be open to feedback from customers, managers, and other team members in order to grow and become a top call center agent.
- Love your job: It’s hard to truly excel at any job that you don’t like, but this is especially true for call center agents. Customers will recognize if you are just going through the motions or if you genuinely enjoy what you do, and it will make a difference in their perception of the customer service they receive. Having a positive attitude and an authentic joy for doing your job have a big impact on customer satisfaction.
What are the hard skills of a call center agent?
The hard skills required of a call center agent include in-depth knowledge of the company’s products and services and computer and technological skills – especially with customer-relationship management (CRM) systems. Companies need to ensure that call center representatives receive adequate initial and ongoing training to help them be well informed and stay up-to-date on all of a company’s offerings. Because call center agents rely heavily on computers and other technology to do their job, they must also be able to use them proficiently. Many companies use CRM software to manage, track, and store information regarding customers, so call center agents must know how to navigate this system.
Though not always required, some additional hard skills that can be helpful are omnichannel awareness, knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI), and multilingual skills. As more companies move to using email, chat, and social media to provide customer service, their representatives need to have more experience with these as well. The use of AI to interact with customers is also increasing, so call center agents may need to have some understanding of how to use this in their job as well. Finally, many companies serve diverse markets, so having call center agents with multilingual skills helps them to reach and respond to more of their customers.
What skills do you get from a call center?
While there are many skills that are helpful for people to possess before they ever take on the role of a representative, there are some acquired call center skills and abilities that can be beneficial for people to learn for future jobs, as well as their life in general. Working in a call center is sure to increase social skills because call center agents have the opportunity to practice with a variety of people several times a day. The interactions they have with customers and other team members allows them to discover different ways of interpreting and responding to diverse personalities and emotions, a skill that will aid them in many aspects of their life. Because call center agents can encounter challenging customers, they are also taught how to stay calm under pressure while remaining friendly and courteous. Having a natural inclination towards this is certainly helpful, but working in a call center allows someone to practice in a number of situations and learn different strategies for diffusing situations while keeping their own emotions under control. Organization is another skill that is honed when working in a call center. Call center agents are usually managing a number of tasks while dealing with a high volume of people throughout their day, so they must learn to keep everything organized in order to be successful. Working in a call center also enhances a person’s ability to memorize and retain information. Call center agents are required to know a great deal about their company’s products and services, as well as how to operate the assorted technology they use, so they must find tips and tricks that help them remember all the information they need to know.