Three Soft Skills to Seek Out in Contact Center Agents
How does your contact center assess potential agent candidates?
It’s an important question, because when you hire wisely you stand a better chance of not just acquiring a valuable asset, but bringing someone into the business that will not leave in six months or a year. Attrition remains high at most contact centers (the average is anywhere from 30% to 45%), so these are decisions that are vital to get right the first time.
One effective approach is to place more emphasis on the so-called “soft skills” that candidates bring to their work.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Hard skills are typically defined as teachable abilities – in the case of agents that would include learning a script and entering data.Soft skills are less easily defined but just as important. In fact, in this business, they may be far more important. Here are 3 call center soft skills to look for during the hiring and training process.
Before hiring, pay attention to candidates who were promoted with their previous companies. Also, look for leadership positions held in college or high school. These are the agents who will step up to help when another agent is having a problem.
There’s a moment in the film The Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character tests a colleague’s salesmanship skills by handing him a pen and saying, “Sell me this pen.” At outbound contact centers, salesmanship is a key trait that involves much more than reading lines from a script. At an inbound contact center there are upsell opportunities that alert agents will not miss during a conversation. Perhaps some variation on “sell me this pen” would be a useful exercise during the job interview.
- Interpersonal Skills
Being a contact center agent requires near constant interaction with other people. This is not a job for those with introverted personalities. During the interview, ask for examples of when the candidate was able to reassure or motivate a coworker, or calm an angry customer.
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