The top three skills your contact centre agents need

The top three skills your contact centre agents need With more businesses looking to tech solutions for managing more straightforward queries, call centre agents are now being tasked with resolving a wider variety of increasingly complex problems. While the core skills needed for the role remain the same, the emphasis is changing. As customer needs change, a shift in focus is taking place, from volume call-handling and first-time resolution to relationship building and influencing customer sentiment.  In this blog we explore the top in-demand skills your agents need, what good looks like and how to enhance these skills in your contact centre.
  1. Taking ownership
Why does it matter? Taking ownership is a vital component of customer experience. More complex issues may not be resolved on the first call and several solutions may be attempted before the right one is found. To maintain a positive customer experience through this process, it is vital for the customer to feel that the agent is proactively working to resolve the issue.   What does ‘good’ look like?
  • Remaining calm and controlled
  • Reassuring customers that they will own and resolve the issue
  • Demonstrating positive action on the call e.g. explaining next steps
  • Displaying a sense of urgency and detailing the timeline for resolution
  • Arranging a call back to check the efficacy of solution
What to watch out for
  • Clipped and defensive tone
  • No reassurance given to the customer
  • No actions/next steps or timelines provided
  1. Active questioning 
Why does it matter? Active listening is a critical skill that enables agents to get to the root cause of an issue and demonstrate to the customer that they have fully understood and grasped the problem that needs to be resolved.  What does ‘good’ look like?
  • Asking open-ended questions
  • Managing the discussion to gain maximum insight into the issue, enabling the agent to determine the root cause
  • Triaging the issue to ensure that the severity of the issue is clearly understood
  • Playing back the issue accurately to the customer
What to watch out for
  • Closed questions
  • Allowing the customer to control the conversation
  • Inaccurate description of the issue to the customer and inability to determine the root cause
  • Inability to accurately assess the severity of the issue
  • Customer frustration at the end of the call
  • Missing fraud indicators
  1. Demonstrating empathy
Why does it matter? All customers like to feel like their concerns are heard and their unique situation is recognised. If done well, it will result in a stronger connection being built and a positive customer experience. What does good look like?
  • Verbally recognising the issues raised 
  • Acknowledging the impact of the issue on the customer
  • Apologising for the issue and committing to resolve the problem
What to watch out for
  • Not demonstrating an understanding of the root cause
  • Sounding unsure with regular long silences 
  • No apology or commitment to resolve
  • Advising the customer that they cannot help and passing onto someone else without a handover – so the customer has to explain the issue again
How to develop these skills in agents Upskilling in large teams can be difficult as line managers struggle to find sufficient time to monitor and coach on a 1-2-1 basis. Having the right tools in place can help with this, using a platform that can automatically assess call quality and provide real-time feedback to agents can take hours of workload away from team managers. On average an agent in a typical contact centre will take 60 calls or more a day, at the end of a busy week, it will be difficult for an agent to recall specific conversations and apply the feedback to that situation, they may also have continued with their mistake for the rest of the rest of the week, impacting the experience of many of other customers.  Providing real-time, on-screen feedback enables the agent to put corrective actions into practice straightaway with an immediate impact on behaviour and customer experience.