5 Characteristics to Look for in a Call Center Agent
As your company grows, so will your call center. But when you’re looking to hire a new call center agent, you do not want to hire just anyone. After all, agents are often a customer’s first impression of your brand, and sometimes their only personal connection with your company. So you want to hire friendly, helpful, dedicated individuals who are ready to learn and advocate for your company.
To help narrow the candidate pool, here are five characteristics to look for when hiring a customer service representative.
First and foremost, customer service representatives must be good listeners in order to fully understand each customer’s need. Then, they must be able to clearly communicate their response, whether that is resolving a problem or making purchase recommendations. Listening — empathetic listening — not only speeds customer service, it can diffuse a negative situation, transforming an irate customer into a brand advocate.
Customers often have questions about specific products or services. Your CSRs need to be knowledgeable about your company, it’s offerings, and policies. That requires excellent recall as well as the ability to double-check details on the fly, without making customers wait.
Beyond the ability to quickly and accurately answer questions, call center agents should have the knowledge, leeway, and authority to creatively resolve issues. Putting people on hold to get help from a supervisor, or passing them along to another agent, irritates customers. If fixing the problem does require intervention, agents must explain why. That way, customers will see it as a service, not a hand-off.
Ability to Work Quickly Under Pressure
Being a customer service representative is a tough job, one that requires a high level of emotional maturity. Every contact is different, and customers can range from cheerful to irate. It is critical that CSRs have the ability to project a calm and can-do attitude no matter what.
The faster and more effectively your representatives can serve each customer, the more positive that customer’s experience will be. Efficiency also enables your call center to serve more customers per day, which benefits your bottom line.
Agents may be speaking with one person at a time, but they are multi-tasking behind the scenes — capturing information, taking notes, looking up details. Yet it all has to appear simple and seamless to customers.
Look or listen for someone’s personality in their cover letter/emails or phone interview. Do their emails sound professional yet friendly? What about on the phone? Do they try to fill every silence over the phone with information whether it is useful or not? Do they allow you to finish your thoughts? Are they socially awkward or socially adept? You want your CSRs to be pleasant to talk to. So, if your phone interview is not pleasant, they may not be the right fit.
Remember, enthusiasm goes a long way when it comes to customer service. If they mention specific things they like about your company, it is a great sign they will be exceptional advocates of your business.
No matter what, don’t rush your decision. It’s better to take the time to find the right person than to quickly fill the position with the wrong one. Once you’ve found someone with the skills, dedication, and willingness to learn, you can rest assured your customers are in good hands and your business can continue to grow. And that peace of mind is priceless.