Thinking about what interpersonal characteristics make for a superior, call center agent, I came up with a list of 9. Trust me, I’ve seen my share of characters through the years. Many of my top agents had less than admirable qualities: egomaniacal, self-centered, and all-around, adult-looking adolescents with small minds. However, when it came to selling, they could bring the hammer! They had the best numbers, so, it was difficult to be too critical. In fact, we celebrated our success.
My top agents had solid, sales skills. A few of them were genuine, on and off the phone. Most of them, though, were smooth on the phone and when off of the phone, unsavory. But, because they could sell, they could get away with it. In fact, to be honest, if I could have cloned them, I would have in a minute. You see, it’s all about the outcomes. The system is designed to maximize key performance indicators (KPI’s) like first contact resolutions, which means satisfying customers quickly, done by incentivizing agents accordingly.
Consequently, caring about interpersonal characteristics overtly is a waste of time. Hang with me here, and keep reading: care about interpersonal characteristics covertly. The top agents with unsavory, personal lives can make you a fine living. But, building a deep call center requires leading teams of agents to collective success. While there will always be top agents who are only in it for themselves, it is your job as their supervisor or manager to realize that you, your team and your goals are only as strong as your weakest links. Typically, those weakest links are your unsavory, unproductive agents. Needless to write, they are clearly identified, put on an action plan, and groomed or systematically terminated.
But, what do you do about the savory, mid-production agents?
You have these agents on your team, too. They are the ‘good eggs.’ They finish in the middle third of your stack rankings. In school terms, they are your “C” or average performers. Perhaps their greatest strength is consistency. You can count on their moderate production and good attitudes. What you do is help those agents capitalize on the sales skills that your top agents exude on the phone. In fact, help these ‘good eggs’ hone their sales skills by reframing their position. Coach each of them on how to exude his or her personal character over the phone, using diction, tone and memorized phrases that demonstrate confidence in providing superior, customer service.
Ready for my list? As I stated above, I’ve provided a list of 9 interpersonal characteristics that a superior call center agent will possess. The agent will be a top agent because her or she has intrapersonal characteristics that benefit interpersonal interactions with customers, colleagues, managers and you.
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- Encouraging: an encouraging disposition from the agent gives customers hope.
- Warm: a warm agent emotes care toward customers.
- Fair: a fair-minded agent is a solution-oriented agent.
- Reasonable: a reasonable agent sets expectations for a successful call.
- Firm but Flexible: a firm agent is practical, and bends the rules to help customers without breaking the spirit of the rule.
- Well-explained: a well-explained agent is one who can clearly communicate.
- Consistency: a consistent agent is one who is disciplined and provides reliable, customer service.
- Positive: a positive agent is one who sees opportunity where others see problems.
- Constructive: a constructive agent is one who is focused on building a book of business, learning and honing the craft of customer service.
This is my list of 9 interpersonal characteristics of a superior, call center agent. It’s a working list, one that can serve you well as you serve your call center. Remember, your top agents are producing, and deserve your attention, as you shower production accolades on them. It’s easy to fly with the high-flyers. Make sure you’re equipped to give some of your precious time to those mid-agents who need some skills coaching. If you can help each of them raise their own boats, then two-thirds of your call center agents would be exceeding their numbers!
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