Hire Great Agents. The Rest Will Fall Into Place

Let’s face it: Managing a contact center can seem like an impossible task. There are countless things to consider, from the type of customer relationship management software you should be using to the number of agents you should have answering phones.

Contact centers, in other words, are incredibly complex and unfortunately they don’t come with instruction manuals. For a manager, achieving optimal contact center efficiency and output can seem like a constant game of guess and check.

At the end of the day, though, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that customer service is all about having great interactions with people. Technology and data are important, but only as mechanisms that help agents have better conversations over the phone, email, text or live chat. No technology alone will guarantee great service, and for this reason you need to be using high quality agents who are capable of processing information and maximizing its usage. If you hire great customer service agents, the rest of the customer service puzzle tends to fall into place.

Here are some characteristics that separate great customer service agents from mediocre ones:

Empathy: In this age of self-service, when customers ask to speak with live agents it typically means they have something on their mind — be it a question, concern or suggestion about how to improve the brand. And for this reason, active listening — and an empathetic attitude — is one of the best skills an agent can have.

Integrity: With cybersecurity concerns at an all-time high, integrity is another critical characteristic you should look for in your agents. Hire people who you will trust will do the right thing when handling sensitive information. Remember that most data breaches happen internally, from insider threats who have access to too much data.

Friendliness:  If you want to win at customer service, hire people who love to talk, and can easily interact with just about anyone they converse with. This is something you can pick up on easily during the initial agent interview. If an agent is shy, awkward and unable to relax and have an conversation, it could be a sign that they will struggle to warm up to customers over the phone and could require lengthy training.

Industry knowledge: Put a premium on subject matter experts. The more knowledge that an agent has about your industry, the easier it will be for them to engage with customers and walk them through problems. You can teach people to talk about your brand, but it’s much harder when they don’t know your industry’s terminology.

If you are struggling to find great customer service agents, remember you can always outsource support to a third party contact center solutions provider — saving you time and money, and guaranteeing you get the high quality results you are looking for.