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Written By
Heather Sloan
Call Center Agents / February 18, 2021

Key Skills for Call Center Agents: How to Hire and Train the Best

Written By
Heather Sloan
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Key Skills for Call Center Agents: How to Hire and Train the Best

Frontline employees, such as call center agents, can make or break a business. The company’s reputation rides on their shoulders much of the time. But coaching savvy call center agents isn’t as effortless as distributing employee training manuals and crossing your fingers. Here’s a look at what it takes to hire and train top talent for your call center. 

Encourage Premier Communication Skills

Going from a good agent to a great one requires excellent communication skills. The topic of “effective communication” is overused, so it can be challenging to properly encourage your team. 

For starters, customers take a mere seven seconds to develop an impression of your company. According to Forbes, some research suggests that it only takes a tenth of a second to determine likeability and trustworthiness. In the insurance business, your call center agents must nurture callers at every opportunity. 

The following are critical communication skills to encourage:

  • Use empathy and kindness to connect with callers genuinely.
  • Mirror the customer’s tone and language (except angry calls).
  • Practice active listening and listen more than you talk.

Identify Knowledge Retention

Most individuals want to feel a part of an impacting team. That said, plenty of call center agents fail to find purpose in their work. More than anything, the job could seem like a place to toss inferior workers. Customer service is a tough gig, after all.

This negative mindset prevents call center agents from embracing a strong identity with your company. Reimagine the purpose of your agents. Confirm their importance, and make it known that they're vital to the company's success. Reward effort and identify knowledge retention, especially knowledge about the company. 

When call center agents honestly know the company's ins and outs, it translates confidence and resourcefulness into their work. Customers will feel that they’re in good hands when an agent knows their “stuff.”

Inspire Emotional Intelligence

Call center agents converse with various customers every day. Some of these callers are peppy and vibrant, while others might be furious and petty. Spiraling down into the dungeons of anger frustration is easy to do when you have a screaming caller on the other end of the line. 

However, emotional intelligence goes a long way in maintaining your sense of calm. Emotional intelligence involves how we perceive, control, and evaluate our emotions. Often, call center training for agents focuses on technicalities and operational logistics — but what about the emotional aspect of the job?

When you inspire your call center agents to “know thyself,” they can recognize their emotional triggers and what sets them off. In turn, this approach will help them to manage their feelings better while on a call. 

Nurture Organization Skills

Even at an initial interview, it’s not challenging to know whether an individual is organized. Not only does a resume reflect organizational skills, but the way an individual thinks and behaves is also a dead giveaway. 

Keep in mind; organizational skills can be taught if employees are willing to learn. With a little motivation and hands-on instruction, you can show your team how to better manage their time. Plus, provide digital tools to help your call center agents track tasks more efficiently. 

Lastly, not every individual strives to be a Type A personality, per se. Some employees are satisfied with the status quo — but it doesn’t make them any less valuable to the company. Find your team members’ strengths and build from there. Perhaps an individual fails to track tasks well but can de-escalate an upset customer marvelously, for example. Remember, part of being organized as a leader is building a diversified team. 

Reward Attention to Detail 

When customers reach out to call centers, they’re ready to act. Whether it’s buying coverage, requesting a policy change or submitting a claim, they desire a specific outcome. Call center agents have the essential role of cutting through the noise to identify what callers need precisely. However, completing this task requires reliable attention to detail. 

Many customers calling to discuss a claim have been through the wringer. High emotions tend to cloud up reality — policy numbers become scrambled, estimates are lost, email addresses are forgotten, etc. It’s vital to reward your agents’ attention to these details. 

Rarely do callers instantly hand over the information your agents need to complete a task. Make this job effortless for your call center agents by providing checklists and guidelines for them to get through every call successfully. 

Balance Efficiency and Quality 

In another helpful post, we focused on metrics to boost call center performance. Many of these assessments focus on measurable factors. These include time spent on a call, number of calls answered, and how fast calls were answered, to name a few. Not only do these metrics offer valuable insight on jobs done well, but they shine a light on areas that need more attention. 

The caveat to understanding metrics is that there’s a delicate balance between efficiency and quality. Getting the job done quickly doesn’t always add up to happy customers. Conversely, spending 20 minutes to complete a 5-minute task will bubble up impatience in plenty of callers. 

Leaders must walk this line savvily, using the company mission as a benchmark. Hiring call center agents who embrace this vital balance comes down to their track record. Know their history beforehand and learn their skills as they unfold on your team.

Promote Creativity

Most people assume that creativity is reserved for creative services, such as graphic designers, writers, or marketers. However, creativity is a valuable skill for call center agents in several unique ways. 

When you promote creativity, you teach your team to be resourceful and think outside the box to find solutions. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t tend to work in the insurance world. Insurance policies are usually customized to a policyholder's needs, so why shouldn't the customer service?  

Hiring and training the best call center agents is a tall order — but 100% possible. What’s more, Digital Media Marketing offers an Inbound Call Generation service to boost your call center metrics.

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