A good call center representative is hard to find. To be the best, they have to have the right personality, skills, and fit for your team. And because customer service directly impacts revenue, you should aim to build the best customer support team possible.
There are many different types of call centers. However, they all have one thing in common: the need to provide excellent customer service. Similarly, many of the skills and abilities needed by call center agents are the same, regardless of center type.
We know there are lots and lots of jobseekers out there wondering if being a call center agent might be a good fit for them. We’ve been in business a long time and we know what it takes to succeed really well, so here are four tips for the uninitiated, or those just looking to improve their skills.
Just like your mother always told you, patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, it can wear thin when you’re dealing with a particularly confused, angry, or perseverant customer. What sets the best customer service reps above the rest is that they treat even the most frustrating callers with respect.
How to get it:
Although arguably the most important trait of a good customer support rep, this is also one of the toughest skills to hone if it doesn’t come naturally. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. If you want to improve your patience, try taking a deep breath next time you find yourself getting irritated with a caller.
Focus on slowing down your breathing and remind yourself that this isn’t a personal attack, but an angry caller who’s really frustrated about something else. Remind yourself that it’ll be over shortly, if you can just power through and make them as happy as possible. If the situation ever gets so bad that you risk losing your temper, you can always put them on hold briefly while you cool off.
The best customer service rep’s always have a creative solution to the toughest problems in their back pocket. Irritated customers, no-show products, slow-going troubleshooting… all of these tough situations call for creative solutions from time to time. Being able to come up with a creative solution that will satisfy a customer, while costing the company as little as possible, makes the difference between a good service rep and a great one.
How to get it:
If you feel like you’re not coming up with creative of solutions to tough problems, first of all, good job recognizing that. Although creativity isn’t as hard to achieve as some of the other necessary skills, it’s one that sometimes we don’t realize we’re missing in the first place. So now that you know that you want to get more creative, the first step is to learn the ins and outs of your business, products, and services.
With knowledge, creativity often comes naturally because the more you know the easier it is to see a wide range of options for any given obstacle. For the most part, the rest comes with practice. As you are presented with different dilemmas, you’ll start to get a feel for the common ones and the common ways to solve them. Then, you can start thinking a bit outside the box to get a little more creative with some of your solutions when the situation calls for it.
- Clear Communication Skills
A call center customer service rep’s most important skill is to effectively communicate. Communicating well means both understanding what the caller is trying to get across and then responding in a way that makes sense to the caller. For troubleshooting especially, this can be a tough task. When things get too technical, it can be challenging to explain exactly why something’s happening or what needs to be done. But a good rep will be able to bridge this gap, overcoming any communication obstacles.
How to get it:
Effective communication is another skill that comes with practice. Working with a wide variety of customers is probably the fastest way to help work on communication skills. If you’re a customer service manager, you can help speed up the process of encouraging your reps to develop stronger communication skills by having them practice. Make role playing a mandatory part of training, and check in on a regular basis to monitor progress. Good communication starts with training, and then spreads to the phones.
- The Ability to Stay Positive
Unfortunately, call center customer service reps encounter a lot of negativity. They often interact with callers when they’re at their wit’s end, upset, and tearful. When dealing with a difficult customer, it can be challenging to stay positive. But it is an absolute must for good customer service representatives.
How to get it:
Staying positive during a trying situation has a lot to do with personality. However, if you’re not naturally a positive person, it’s not impossible to make a switch. It will take a bit of effort and a new way of thinking. To start, smile, even if you’re talking on the phone. Smiles can actually be heard in your voice and, even if you don’t feel all that perky, it will automatically help perk up your tone.
You can also remind yourself that the person on the other side of the phone isn’t actually upset with you. They’re upset with the company or brand that you represent. Instead, smile, stay upbeat and remind yourself that you’re there to serve the customers and make them as happy as possible.
While not all of these skills come naturally to everyone, it is possible to learn them. It may take some time and practice for some to pick up, but with a bit of dedication, every call center customer service rep can grow even stronger by refining these skills.
Not everyone excels in all of these areas, and new call center agents undergo training so that they can improve, You’ll learn and get better as you handle more and more calls. As long as you have the desire to learn and make progress, you’ll do fine.