If you’re dialed in to the world of contact centers and customer service, chances are you’ve seen this great infographic by now. In the complex world of modern call centers, agents need a whole set of skills their predecessors didn’t.
We’ve combined the old and new for this list, pairing classic traits that have always made for great call center agents with skills that have become crucial in the modern world of technology and high customer service expectations.
- Personable – Call center agents need to be not only outgoing, but personable in their exchanges. Simply being talkative is not enough; they need to pleasant and understand the art of conversation. They also need to be genuinely empathetic when customers are unhappy or upset.
- Great listener – Piggybacking on the art of conversation, call center agents need to really listen to a customer’s problems, complaints or concerns. Listening is the only way they’ll be able to come up with good solutions.
- Tech savvy – Modern call centers rely on considerable technology, not just phones. Agents have to be technical enough to learn and navigate complex software. Technical issues that delay the call will only frustrate customers further. They should also be skilled in social media, which is an increasingly important component of customer service.
- Patient – Hot heads need not apply. Customer service agents, unfortunately, have to deal with angry or irate customers. That’s never fun, but they can’t lose their cool. Agents have to know how to stay levelheaded.
- Flexible – Sometimes call center jobs come with oddball hours. New agents might have to work the second shift or overnight. They might get stuck on a complicated call and not be able to leave the minute their shift ends.
- Trustworthy – Call center agents almost always have access to personal or sensitive customer information. It’s crucial to find people who can be trusted not to misuse or steal this information.
- Innovative – In the modern call center, sticking to the script doesn’t fly with customers. Agents need to be able to think on their feet to come up with creative solutions to problems. Of course, this also involves the company empowering them and giving them room to make decisions.
Should call center agents earn more money?
Given all that’s expected of modern call center agents, is it fair that they make a median salary of about $30,000, or $14 an hour? We’re asking them not only to be patient and personable, but tech savvy, innovative and flexible. The required skill set has changed and grown, but salaries have not kept pace.
In an environment as cost-conscious as the call center, it’s not always possible to pay employees considerably more. However, it’s interesting to note that other industries have noticed a direct, measurable correlation between increased salaries and increased sales. A study of a 500-store retailer, cited in The New York Times earlier this year, found that for every additional $1 spent on employee salaries, sales grew anywhere from $4 to $28.
Companies that can’t raise call center salaries can offer other financial incentives to keep skilled employees and reduce turnover, including performance bonuses for high customer service ratings. Operations managers should also have strong programs in place to promote skilled agents to supervisors, a position that earns a median salary of about $45,000, and often more.
Kunnect sells 100% cloud-based call center software that includes a predictive dialer to businesses and political campaigns. Our software, hosted seamlessly in the Amazon platform, manages all inbound and outbound calling for a flat rate of $125 per agent per month with a flat deposit of $125 per user.