To have a great call center agent is as important as having the right software. But what makes an agent great?
It all starts with communication.
An agent with good communication skills can establish a connection with the caller and build quality relationships. Communicating in a professional setting is not as easy as talking in a friendly setting, where you need not worry about saying the wrong thing or not knowing the answer to a question. Call center agents need to be well versed in what they need to say and how to say it.
While answering a call, the agent has to sound alert, confident, and friendly, setting the tone for the entire conversation.
Let’s look at a few things an agent can do to become a great communicator.
Talk less, Listen more
Paying attention is crucial for good communication. Even if most callers complain about the same issue, remember to lend an ear to it. Active listening is the key to a good conversation. Do not interrupt even if you know where the conversation is headed. Agents must understand the problem from the caller’s point of view and not their own. Pay attention to the tone and emotion in the caller’s voice.
A few tips you can follow to improve your listening skills are:
- Build a strong relationship with the caller by allowing him to open up
- Avoid interrupting when the other person is speaking
- Try to learn about the caller’s opinions, desires, and needs
- Listen to call recordings to develop better skills
- Identify barriers (excessive talking, prejudice, interrupting) to listening and overcome them
- Avoid the “I know what he will say” attitude
- Use agents with good listening behavior as models
To build rapport with the caller, agents can try mirroring, where the agent tries to mimic the caller’s tone and vocabulary.
For example, if the caller’s voice has a sense of urgency, the agent should respond in the same manner. This tells the caller that the agent is not apathetic to their cause.
How to deal with angry and disappointed callers?
While talking to angry callers, agents must dissociate from what the caller is saying and stay focused on resolving the issue. Agents must know how to be right without telling callers they are wrong. Listening and asking appropriate questions is a good way to reach the root of a problem.
Agents must sound empathetic while dealing with disappointed callers. This helps a caller feel understood, and the agent does not come across as condescending. Agents can use phrases like: “I can understand why you are frustrated.” or “You have every right to be upset.” Remember to be sincere.
Asking questions and what to avoid
Ask appropriate questions through which you’ll get the information needed to resolve the issue. Always know what to say before coming up with an answer. If you cannot come up with a solution, tell the caller that you will connect the call to someone who will do the needful.
Agents have to be assertive communicators, having the ability to listen to problems and offer a compromise without being walked all over. Be polite and courteous, use words like: ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘you’re welcome’.
Avoid negative words. Replace words like: ‘can’t’, ‘not’, and ‘no’ with positive words like ‘can’, ‘able’ and ‘yes’. Always keep a calm and soothing tone. This works to your advantage while dealing with difficult and irate callers, making it easy to communicate with them.
Training tips for call center managers:
Do it yourself: Call Center Software Training
Don’t bore your agents by creating a “watch me only” training module. Get creative and set up a few tasks (real-life scenarios) and get them on to solve the issues. This way your agents figure out how to use the software and will resolve the issues easily. The goal is to get them familiar with the product, the best way to do it is by giving a hands-on experience. Now, you can make training fun and you don’t have to hire someone to train agents.
Play to the strengths of an agent and assign tasks. If a person is well-spoken but an introvert let him deal with texting, web chats, and social media customer service. Assign people great at conflict resolution to talk to irate or difficult callers.
Build a good support system for new hires
To ensure the success of new hires you should encourage them to reach out to peers and managers. To make the work environment more conducive you could create a system where a new hire is teamed up with an experienced employee. This system will help agents open up and will provide them with the initial support that is needed.
Always remember to regularly review training programs
Reviewing your training program is very important as it tells you what you could do to increase efficiency among agents. At the end of the day, all you want is to increase the quality of your agents. So review and train your agents at a regular interval, say once in a month.
The review should be based on :
- Effectiveness – How effective was the previous program? What to improve? Analyse results
- Feedback – Ask for feedback as it will help you create a better training program and will give better results
- Flexibility – Make the process as flexible as possible and let agents schedule their own programs
- Constant change in the training material – This will reduce the monotony of training
Let us know if these tips helped you in the comments section below.Tags: Call Center, communication strategy