Top Skills for Contact Center Agents in 2024

Top Skills for Contact Center Agents in 2024
Working in a contact center isn’t as easy as anyone would have you believe. I remember when I first started working at a call center in 2010, they put a lot of stock at customer service experience and adaptability. English, of course, was par for the course. We even had an English Conversation exam to gauge how well we were at gauging tone, diction, and all the different factors involved in a phone conversation.
It’s been about twelve years since that day, and the skills required to work in a call center have more or less stayed the same, but with a few additions. What are some skills you need to look for today if you’re onboarding some new agents?

The Job Description

It all starts with the job description. Are you hiring for a call center or a full on contact center? This distinction is important as the skills required for each can vary to a certain degree.
A call center agent typically is required to provide customer resolution through a phone call. As the medium is solely through voice calls, the ability to communicate well in the required language is a must.
A contact center, on the other hand, offers customer assistance using as many different communication channels as required.
Let’s look at a modern-day example of a job description for a call center agent:
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For this article, we will be focusing more on the contact center side of things mostly because it is the foreseeable trend in the industry. Most — if not all — skills that call center agents have, contact center agents are also expected to have anyway.

Top skills required in a contact center environment in 2022

For this let's reference this article from Zendesk.
1. Effective communication skills — it goes without saying that to be in customer service, you need to be capable of communicating properly. A contact center agent has to be comfortable with phones, emails, chat, and all the other channels.
2. Customer Service — This one is and always will be a staple. As contact center, agents are always at the forefront of the business. They represent the brand and the ideals it represents, so having a solid customer service skill is a standard in the industry.
3. Attention to detail — as an agent, one is expected to receive a lot of information from customers. As a result, an agent is expected to retain this information and process them in an orderly manner. They are also supposed to pick up on certain context clues to help filter what data is needed and what isn’t.
4. Organization skills — There are dozens of tools that an agent is expected to handle during the course of a shift. With everything from their time tracking to an intricate CRM platform where they process multiple requests, an agent has to have the intuition to handle all these without making mistakes.
5. Multitasking — in line with the previous skill, an agent is expected to be capable of doing multiple things at once at a relaxed and organized pace. This is an inevitability in the industry, as we are at the customer’s whim. At one point the call might have started as a simple order follow-up, and a cancellation the next. Different tools will come into play during the course of a phone call, so having the ability to juggle different tasks at once is very vital for survival.
6. Adequate technology skills — agents aren’t expected to be super tech-savvy, but to have the right amount of awareness of the different tools available to them and to the customer. This is to level the playing field, to let customers know that you know what you’re talking about.
7. Speed and efficiency — this doesn’t just refer to their quickness with regards to handling tasks, but also to the way they think. In a contact center, things can escalate really quickly. They need to be capable of quick thinking and making important decisions on the fly.
8. Adaptability — Things can change very quickly in a contact center. Some tools, processes, and metrics can change according to the needs and performance of the business. Agents have to be quick to adapt and accept these changes without difficulty.
9. Empathy — in the age of digital communication, a lot of things have been lost in the process. The one thing that should never be lost is the ability to feel, to empathize. Contact center agents are expected to provide the human touch in every customer interaction, and they make the whole weary process better.

Conclusion

The way we gauge the competency of our customer service agents has changed little in the past ten years, despite the advances in technology. Customer satisfaction still is at the top of the list of metrics, only that the way we factor it has evolved to an extent. The other measurable performance metrics like average handling time, answer rate, and after call work time all paint a picture of how well your agents are performing. But it is and always will be the quality of the apathy and the human touch that leaves the best impression!
When you’re interviewing your next batch of prospects, ask them the following questions: How tech savvy are you? How far are you to willing to go to help a customer?
The first question gauges their competencies. The more tech savvy they are, the better they will be at handling the technical aspects of the job. Whatever is lacking, they can be taught in training. Product knowledge can be learned.
The second question, in our opinion, matters more. Their answer here is a measure of who they are as a person, and how well they will be at providing the human connection. In a tech-centric world, to be human is valuable.

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