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7 Important Call Center Skills Every Agent Should Have


The Team at CallMiner

December 21, 2020

7 Important call center skills every agent should have
7 Important call center skills every agent should have

Updated July 14, 2022

Working as a call center agent requires several soft skills to provide the best call center experience for customers.

Call centers employees are responsible for much more than mere issue resolution. These employees serve as the remote faces of the companies they represent, directly interacting with clients in one-on-one personal interactions. Should a call center representative leave a customer with a bad impression of the brand or prove incapable of helping them, their perspective of the company could be damaged irreparably.

The most skilled call center agents have more than a way with words and access to relevant customer data. They go above and beyond to fully satisfy callers, winning them over for repeat business with the brand they represent.

Below, we have rounded up a few of the most important skills individuals can cultivate to work more effectively in any call center. Read on to learn what they are and why they matter.

Clarity in Communicating

Keeping conversations clear and productive helps both in resolving customers’ issues as well as making a good impression.

Why is clarity in communication important to call centers and their agents?

Thinking through your responses and answering in clear, understandable language helps in saving time; less back and forth is needed between yourself and the customer.

2. Technical Proficiency and Understanding in/of Products/Services

Domain expertise is an easily understood benefit to any call center’s staff. Ensuring agents have in-depth knowledge of the company’s products and services, as well as of common complaints and their solutions, can make a world of difference in the customer’s call center experience.

Why is proficiency and understanding of products/services important to call centers and their agents?

Customer service agents armed with the ins and outs of a product can make more appropriate recommendations and quickly solve more complex issues on a regular basis.

3. Patience

Patience in a call center environment boils down to allowing customers the time they need to explain their concerns and actively assist along the way.

Why is patience important to call centers and their agents?

This skill truly shows its worth when it comes to dealing with particularly upset or confused customers. A patient representative who takes the time to work with them on their concerns will leave a lasting impression. On the other hand, a call center representative who fails to do so could turn the individual away from the company for good.

4. Empathy

True empathy exhibited while on the job in a call center builds authenticity and positive rapport with worried, uncertain or distraught callers.

Why is empathy important to call centers and their agents?

Knowing that their needs are understood and valued can set many customers at ease throughout the duration of a call, simplifying issue resolution significantly.

5. Problem-Solving and Flexibility

Effective problem-solving typically centers on an agent’s ability to reason in the moment. An agent’s ability to then act on their own ideas can be enhanced with increased autonomy on the job.

Why is problem-solving and flexibility important to call centers and their agents?

Call center employees who can accurately define problems, evaluate them, and then solve them are guaranteed to help more customers in less time.

6. Listening Capacity

The ability to listen intently to customers as they describe their difficulties pairs nicely with clear communication skills. Active listening helps ensure no important details are lost throughout the exchange.

Why is a strong listening capacity important to call centers and their agents?

Call center agents who listen can curb the number of calls needed for individual clients to resolve their problems. It allows agents to provide support and suggestions that account for all the details available to both parties.

7. Organization

Being organized as a call center representative involves more than a tidy physical workspace. Varied organizational skills like note-taking, time management, and prioritizing help agents to handle daily workloads. Organization reduces the risk of losing track of the omnichannel customer journey and the details the customer has provided up to a given point in time.

Why is organization important to call centers and their agents?

As call center employees interact with multiple customers, maintaining a comprehensive record of their needs and requests keeps them from needing to start all over again on every call. This frees up time and energy for solving more complex problems. Additionally, customers appreciate not having to explain their concerns repeatedly with each contact.

The skills every call center agent needs to succeed in such a fast-paced and demanding environment are largely the same skills needed to succeed in other aspects of daily life outside of work. Developing these skills is a worthy exercise in character building that strengthens confidence in and out of the office.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are soft skills in a call center?

Soft skills in the contact center include agent qualities such as patience, flexibility, empathy, organization and problem-solving skills. Beyond just the technical proficiency with the hardware and software that agents use, these skills are invaluable in delivering positive call outcomes for your business and your customers. These soft skills help deliver superior customer experience, which leads to greater customer satisfaction, retention, and customer lifetime value.

What do you think are the 3 main qualities of a call center agent?

Opinions will vary, but if it had to be boiled down to just three qualities, a call center agent would demonstrate the ability to:

1. Patiently listen to customers, clearly understand the reason behind their calls, and take ownership for addressing that reason.

2. Clearly articulate to customers what can (and possibly cannot) be done to address the reasons behind their calls, and to do so with empathy.

3. Efficiently leverage the training, technology, resources, knowledgebases, policies, process and other team members (supervisors) that's at his/her disposal with dexterity and flexibility to address the reason for customer calls -- while keeping customers informed through calls as to the progress that's being made in pursuit of a positive call outcome.

(Cheating to slip in #4 -- to do all the above with the credo of treating the customer like he/she would like to be treated.)

What makes you a good call center agent?

Good call center agents demonstrate proficiency at both hard and soft skills. Hard skills include the use of the hardware and software that's required to do their jobs -- as well as the ability to execute on the rules, policies and processes that were part of their training. Soft skills include demonstrating qualities such as patience, empathy, listening, ownership, flexibility and other 'people skills' that result in treating customers like they themselves would like to be treated.

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