Just A Little Patience: Three Necessary Traits For A Call Center Agent Chances are, if you ask most people what some of their favorite activities are, “calling customer service” wouldn’t show up on even the biggest masochist’s list. A recent study by Mattersight showed that two-thirds of customers (66 percent) are frustrated before they even start talking with a customer service agent, which probably has to do with being disillusioned by past call center experiences. This is supported by another telling fact from the same study: 75 percent of customers have felt frustrated after talking with a customer service agent, even if their problem was solved. So how do contact centers break that chain and begin to change perceptions? It all starts with the employees on the other end of the call. Having contact center agents that naturally exhibit certain characteristics, coupled with the right training and support from upper management, can go a long way in changing the narrative. Here are a few qualities to look for in contact center agents that help maximize success and keep both the customers and the client happy. Empathy I list this first, and it might just be the most important quality of all. People are coming into the call with a problem they need solved and an attitude that may be loosely defined as “frustrated at best, angry at worst,” so the agent is starting out in the hole. That’s why it’s important for the call center agent to come across as sympathetic right off the bat, and that starts with being a good listener. The caller needs to feel not like “just another caller” but someone with a unique problem that is understood by the person on the other line. The fact that so many agents lack that empathy and personal touch is why the aforementioned 75 percent of customers still feel frustrated, even if their problem was solved. The problem may have been solved, but they don’t feel like they were understood and respected. Hire people who are genuinely interested in helping others overcome their problems, not just those who want the lowest call time possible. Communication While it seems obvious that someone who spends their living on the phone should be a good communicator, that’s not always the case. From a clear, proficient use of language to being able to process the information on the other end and develop an accurate solution that is conveyed clearly and accurately is crucial in order for the customer to be satisfied. Particularly with technical support, which can be complex enough as it is, you need agents who not only know the product or service backwards and forwards, but are able to seamlessly transfer that knowledge to the customer, cognizant of the fact that the customer is likely coming in not having that same knowledge base. Patience Customers are not always going to be happy, and they expect an easy solution, even if the solution isn’t so cut and dry. In fact, they may come into the call displaying some of the inverse traits of a good customer service rep: low knowledge base, not being able to effectively articulate the scope of their problem, and not being organized and having all of the proper information at their disposal. That is why it’s important to have agents who are calm under fire, critical thinkers, and convey patience and positivity, even when the person on the other end might be failing at those things. Ultimately, the customer is seeking to feel validated and heard rather than hurried and dismissed, and a calm, reassuring, and patient demeanor can go a long way in achieving just that. Do your current call center agents possess these skills? Bobbie Jo Barry Bobbie Jo Barry has more than 19 years of contact center experience in multiple areas, including designing client facing solutions, managing day to day operations of two contact centers, leading workforce management and contact center managers to success, managing client relationships, and providing employees with a foundation for success. She has vast experience with omnichannel solutions and various business technologies, including design and implementation of CRM/ticketing systems and IVR applications. She has proven her ability to innovate and create successful tailored solutions for clients, as well as adapt to the client's changing needs.