NobelBiz | Blog 10 Most Essential Soft Skills for Contact Center Agents Published on 27. September 2022 Even though technology has improved in the call center industry, the level of customer experience is still mostly determined by how people interact with each other. This means that the agents' soft skills can make a big difference in how good your support is. Building customer loyalty and setting yourself apart from your competitors also depends on how competent are your agents. And having the right soft skill is important on all fronts because it is the direct link between the customer and the brand. Find out in this article 10 of the most essential soft skills a contact center agent needs to have in order to deliver an excellent customer experience. Key takeaways: Active listening is key to nurture customer trust. Empathy is vital for customer interactions but it's not enough without compassion. Excessive enthusiasm can be very damaging, agents must always adapt their tone to the customer situation. Clients value an agents' ability to keep their promises. Agents must display flexibility and agility on a daily basis. Agents must follow to the 4C rule: Clear, Concise, Consistent and Compelling interactions. Start by hiring and investing in the right call center agents In order to successfully build your team, and the reputation of your company, you need to hire the right people, and to train them appropriately. To find the right people, here are some key points you should take into account. Learn the Market: As it is clear from the above list, one of the most important factors in the success of your business will be the ability of your agents to communicate with their customers. If your agents don't know what your customers want, how will you be able to keep them happy? In order to find the right people for your team, you need to know how your clients are thinking, and who your clients are. You can use this guide to find out. Interview Agents: You need to know how well the candidates can speak, and what their personality is like. Besides being able to speak clearly, you need to interview them, and check whether they can follow your instructions. In order to learn more about your customers and to build a good relationship with them, you need to start from the beginning by meeting your customers and conducting interviews. Invest in Training: Before you start hiring the right people for your team, you have to invest in training. Training is needed to build the communication skills of your agents, as well as your customer service and customer loyalty. In order to hire the best agents, you have to be sure that they can act appropriately in different situations. Learn the Right Traits: There are some key traits that you should look for when you hire your agents. As it is clear from the above list, you also need to look for individuals who can have good listening skills, and also great communication skills. 1.Active listening Listening is a crucial talent for creating consumer trust and connections. Listening demonstrates to the consumer that we care about them, take them into account, and want to provide them with the optimal solution to their request. Thus, listening to a contact center representative increases satisfaction and can even affect a consumer's purchasing choice. Indeed, from the agent perspective, listening might facilitate the closing of a deal, so enhancing his performance. Listening enables the agent to customize interactions and better comprehend the clients. Additionally, listening to advisers helps businesses to distinguish themselves from competitors in terms of customer interactions and enhances their brand image. 2.Stress management All call center agents will inevitably face stress. Customers may contact them at any moment and may be upset about a placed purchase or a delivery delay. It is possible for the counselor to lack immediate solutions to their difficulties. Therefore, it is essential not to worry and to inform clients in a simple manner that he will return with a suitable solution, even if it will take some time. During large activity peaks (e.g., Christmas, sales, black Friday etc.), agents might get quickly overwhelmed and unable to handle everything at once. To maintain the efficient operation of the service during certain periods, it is crucial to effectively manage stress. As with many other occupations, it is vital to distinguish between good stress - the controlled adrenaline of busy moments - and bad stress, which paralyzes your actions. 3.Integrity Integrity is a talent for managing stress. In the event that a client is dissatisfied with your business, it is best not to lie to them, to own responsibility for your faults, and to give them an honest response, even if they are not going to like it. Customers would choose honesty than being ignored or lied to. Indeed, being honest and open with clients demonstrates a genuine concern for their pleasure. Additionally, an honest relationship between the brand and its customers strengthens both loyalty and trust. If a transparent discussion cannot constantly be delivered to clients, for instance, it is preferable to avoid from speaking too much and guarantee that further information may be offered later. 4.Empathy and compassion Often, empathy is seen as a vital part of customer service. It is the capacity to put oneself in another's shoes. It is essential for a customer care professional to be able to put themselves in their clients' shoes. Empathy, like listening, indicates humility and comprehension on the side of the counselor. Regardless of whether they are discussing a possible purchase or a complaint, customers must feel heard. A consultant's problem is to discover the optimal balance between empathy and the brands and customer service policy's frameworks. However, empathy's flaws render it inappropriate for caring engagement - a quality that is essential for customer service. In conclusion, this means that empathy: fades rapidly. We have a limited capacity to resist empathy. only works for people, not groups suffers from the group effect and is open to prejudice as a result. might impair your judgment in favor of individuals who express their emotions. while empathetic agents are ephemeral, compassionate agents are always able to do good. Bob Furniss, Senior Director, Global Salesforce at Slalomfocus, has been in the business for 40 years. During that time, he has worked to improve the customer experience, and to do that, he needed the right people. How does he make sure that the agents have this attitude toward service? Find out more. 5. Having the right productivity tools A contact center is comprised of both people and productivity tools. A poorly-equipped call center cannot get the most excellent first-call resolution results. That is why you must: Ensure that you take care of call routing by optimizing your call center IVR (by configuring your parameters) and segmenting your teams to handle requests based on call type or client profile. Offer your teams effective solutions: A reliable CRM system that provides each agent with a comprehensive call log and enables simple tracking of the caller's journey; A knowledge base integrated with the CRM that is regularly enriched so that all agents have the same support, with the necessary information to provide a coherent response regardless of the customer's contact channel request; A telephony tool with a complicated tree structure for intelligent routing configuration. Call center technology has evolved into actual levers that can move performance, quality, and customer satisfaction enhancement. However, contact centers differ widely, and each organization must consider its unique needs and goals while selecting the most appropriate technologies. This e-book identifies the 16 most essential technology tools for contact centers.6.Positive attitude A good attitude is another valuable soft skill. The comfortable, assured, and willing-to-assist demeanor of agents with a good attitude communicates to pleasant language and a positive tone of voice. Overall, clients respond better to operators who maintain their composure. However, it is essential to recognize that excessive enthusiasm can be very damaging to your brand image. To address the issue effectively, you must demonstrate empathy (as mentioned before) and adapt the right tone of voice to the client. For example, if the client is upset with the length of the wait, you should not be very pleased. Your call center agents should be self-assured, keen to assist, and problem-solving. This will demonstrate that your call center will do whatever to assist the consumer. 6.Keeping promises A consumer values an agent's ability to maintain their commitments. We all understand how frustrating it is for a consumer to wait for a call, text, or email from someone who has no intention of making contact. The simplest way to destroy a client relationship is by failing to fulfill commitments. For example: As a company NobelBiz has served Call Centers throughout the globe and in various industries for 20 years. And our motto is always the same "the client comes first." This implies that every employee at NobelBiz knows the importance of making and keeping every promise to our clients, from delivering true omnichannel solutions to telecom services. This is why we are renowned as the industry's promise keepers. 7.Responsibility Because no two situations are identical, each interaction with a client is a learning opportunity. There are several instances in which taking responsibility for certain mistakes is required. And everyone is susceptible to make mistakes, no matter how great a company is. So, if the agent or the call center has made an error, they must rectify it. Knowing when to apologize, or accept blame, is a vital soft skill to have in your team. Nonetheless, your agents must be able to devise a solution, or at least a temporary offer or repair. This customer service ability will set your help out from the competition. Making decisions is an art, and being willing to make mistakes and then readjust and learn is an important part of the process. Listen to Bob Furniss, Senior Director, Global Salesforce at Slalom, talk about this experience that has stuck with him over the years. 8.Team players Agents are not always capable of providing comprehensive responses. They must be a real team player on a daily basis in order to collaborate with different departments. For example, a marketing team needs sales teams' technical expertise to communicate accurately about products or services. Similarly, the sales team need the marketing team to improve the brand's image. Everything in a corporation is interconnected. In order to fulfill the company's goals, it is vital to know how to ask for aid and share expertise, as well as to discover one's position within the group. Individual viewpoints can weaken the collective concept, which is crucial to the structure's growth. It is consequently vital to promote collective intelligence in order to maximize the group's potential. The concept of group is the sharing of ideas and beliefs, which establishes a shared foundation. It is this connection that will encourage and direct agents to collaborate in order to effectively complete their assigned mission. Consequently, courteous, generous, and trustworthy communication will allow the group idea to reach its maximum potential, based on the talents of each individual. 9.Adaptability In a contact center, adaptability is a crucial soft skill. Every day, agents must display flexibility and agility. However, it is vital to adapt to customers in order to meet his expectations more effectively. Communication channels and the immediacy of information demand that teams are always present and adaptable. It is essential to understand how to lead the client based on the selected methods of communication, their product expertise, their capacity to comprehend the message, and their ability to adapt and respond as efficiently as feasible. However, this cannot be achieved without the appropriate technologies. Imagine, for instance, that a consumer has written you an email with a detailed complaint about a faulty product. The consumer then decides to call your customer care department and inquiries about the complaint's status. The agent lacks the proper resources to recognize the customer's file, thus he must re-ask for his name, first name, problem description, etc. Isn't that irritating for the customer? In today's omnichannel environment, a cloud contact center solution that combines all communication channels and harmonizes consumer data is essential. Moreover, each client is distinct and one-of-a-kind; their attitudes, emotions, and expectations can vary quickly, and it is crucial to be able to adjust to them in order to enhance customer satisfaction. Customer service agents must also continuously adjust to their work environment and organizational changes, such as the recent deployment of telecommuting, the growth of their company's expectations, and the introduction of new tools and processes. To meet the needs of your call center and clients, it is crucial that you are adaptable, flexible and ready on technological level to cope with the unexpected and the unforeseeable. 10.Effective Communication Trust is important in the customer-agent interaction. And to inspire trust in the person they are dealing with, one of the agent's most valuable soft skills is the ability to speak simply and honestly. To present effective communication, agents must adhere to the 4C rule: Clear, Concise, Consistent and Compelling. Clear: Your message must be clear. Use short sentences and limit yourself to one idea per sentence. Explicit and unambiguous, your sentences must make sense. Concise: Brief, but effective. To achieve the desired effect, you should not get lost in too many details or explanations but get straight to the point. Consistent: The more you say the same thing using the same wording, the more memorable it will become to your customers. Compelling: Don't spread yourself too thin. Be consistent in the way you deliver your message to be as compelling as possible. Communication in customer interactions also involves the capacity to engage in active listening and to adjust by using verbal communication when agents talk and nonverbal communication when agents listen. Verbal and nonverbal communication is more of an art than a competence, requiring an individual adaptation. Once learned, it becomes a valuable asset in interpersonal relationships, and much more so in the realm of customer interactions. Effective communication for a call center agent includes expressing oneself with empathy, listening without judgment, rephrasing and asking essential questions; informing internal contacts proactively when required; and building a nice atmosphere with one's customers and team. Conclusion Despite the fact that all these soft skills are required for the role of contact center agent. Obviously, relationship skills are the most crucial. Call center agents need to have a passion for the client they serve and like interacting with people in order to be successful in their careers and deliver satisfying interactions to customers. In order to establish a staff of qualified agents with the appropriate soft skills and ensure a successful client interaction, your call center must also have a positive corporate culture.