Greatness has been described as something that doesn’t remind you of anything else. So what are the traits of a great call center agent? We admit, it’s difficult to define. We know it when we see it, and a lot goes into it.
Let’s look at the some of the ingredients that contribute to a great call center representative:
Innate Liking for People: At the core of great call center representatives, whether they’re doing inbound customer service or outbound B2B lead generation and appointment setting, is a basic fellow-feeling toward the hundreds of people they speak to every day. They care about and identify with peoples’ needs, they want to solve their problems, get them the information or products that they want or provide them with a solution that will address a major business need. Agent greatness begins with caring about people.
Telephone Talent: Call center greatness to a strong degree gets down to the voice – inflection, tone and feeling. It takes talent to defuse an angry caller who demands to know why a gift for his son has not arrived by December 23. It takes talent to get a harried businessperson to listen to a sales pitch for a new software solution. It takes talent to help a frustrated customer understand how to use a complicated product. It takes talent to calm a worried family member seeking help for a substance-abusing son or sister.
Perception: Beyond liking people intrinsically and speaking with them in an engaging way, the great call center agent is interested in human psychology, in developing perception into the type of person they are talking to and tailoring their approach to that person accordingly. The Sandler Sales Institute trains salespeople on how to recognize basic personality types and ways to appeal to them. Some people are all business, they don’t care about establishing rapport, just want the facts. Others are more intuitive, they need a general appeal to an overall positive feeling about a product and a company. Still others need their egos stroked and their problems listened to. The great call center agent quickly senses the kind of individual they are talking to and delivers the appropriate customer service, order processing upselling and cross-selling or the B2B lead generation that reflects their insight.
Productivity: Great call center agents are hard working. They’re driven to answer the highest volume of inbound calls, emails or chat inquiries; they try to produce the greatest number of outbound calls; they hold themselves accountable to performance metrics; they welcome input on how to deliver quality call center services in less time. In short, they have inner drive.
Team Player: Great call center representatives are knowledge sharers. They seek out the best practices used by others, and they readily share with team members how they solved a particular customer service or lead generation problem.
Open to Input: Few people are born great, they acquire greatness by application and continual improvement. When great call center employees go to training sessions, they are interested in what the session has to offer and they are open to suggested ways to improve their performance.
Adaptable: Call center agents working in shared team environments need to be adept at delivering customer service for several companies simultaneously. The great ones enjoy it. They like the continual change and variety of shared team work. They quickly incorporate the lessons learned during training sessions and rapidly acquire the ability to express a company’s core sales messages and brand. Great call center agents working in dedicated teams are skilled at understanding new products and services that their client has brought on line.
The list of attributes go on, but the agent who combines excellence across these skill areas is well on the way to call center greatness.
Mark Fichera, CEO