Every year, call centers of every size and type lose nearly 40 percent of their staff due to turnover. That’s more than double the rate of most other industries.
The fast-paced and demanding work environment of customer service makes it difficult for managers to keep positions filled. And the shift toward remote work has only made the problem worse, requiring supervisors to figure out how to support their teams from a distance.
While agent attrition can make the tasks of upper level management a challenge, it also creates an opportunity for job seekers who want to stand out among their peers.
We’ve compiled a list of the top nine qualities that managers look for in a potential call center agent to prepare you for a successful interview.
As a call center agent, you’ll need to manage multiple open chat windows at the same time or search your company’s database for answers to a question while the customer is on the phone. If you’re not able to juggle a variety of tasks, your customer service rating could suffer.
Poor multi-tasking can also affect your upward mobility, as managers are expected to supervise the performance of several agents all at once.
To gauge your strength in this area, your prospective employer may ask you to rate your own ability to multi-task or describe a specific time when you did it well in your personal or professional life. A common interview question is: how would you prioritize a list of tasks at any given moment?
The interviewer may also provide a hypothetical workplace scenario to get a better feel for your approach. They could also ask your previous employers about your multi-tasking capabilities.
It’s not uncommon for a customer to lose their cool. As an agent, you’ll be expected to maintain your composure.
Patience is essential when getting to the root of a customer issue, especially if the caller is having difficulty grasping technical terms. Patience also helps when managing a complex issue that requires research and specialized expertise. Employers know that an agent’s demeanor goes a long way to giving callers a great overall experience.
During an interview, they might ask you to share a situation in which your patience proved an asset to your success or the success of your team. They could ask you to describe a time when your patience was tested by a client or customer and how you managed to stay professional.
The ability to understand a problem from your caller’s point of view can help you to resolve an issue more effectively. Expressing empathy and concern can also establish trust between you and the customer, helping them feel supported, understood, and calm in a heated situation.
An employer could ask you to tell a story that shows your empathic abilities. But they can just as easily watch how you carry yourself throughout the interview.
How do you interact with front office staff while in the waiting room? What are your verbal and non-verbal reactions during your conversation with the interviewer? These can be great indicators of your capacity to empathize with and relate to others.
4. Good Communication
There is much more to being a good communicator than simply responding to a customer’s questions. You need to exhibit an ability to listen well, speak with confidence, and ask good questions. These are all part of making a caller feel valued.
Like empathy or patience, good communication is a skill best shown through your behavior during the interview. Are you pleasant to interact with? Do you express yourself clearly and with the right tone to match the situation?
A high-performing call agent should be approachable and eager to understand problems and find solutions. Look for ways to show off these qualities as you engage with your interviewer and other staff members.
5. Creative Problem Solving
As a call center agent, you won’t only be helping callers log into an online account or answer basic questions about a product.
On certain occasions, you’re sure to come across challenges that aren’t so easy to resolve. These are the situations that can set you apart as a creative problem solver capable of thinking outside the box and beyond your call scripts.
One way an employer can assess your ability to think critically and independently is by providing case study examples for you to solve. They may ask you to show how you work through a certain scenario.
Another way to gauge this skill is through virtual or in-person testing. You might be asked to complete a timed assessment featuring questions that center on logic, analytical thinking, and creativity.
6. Technical Expertise
Call centers often utilize online software to track and answer calls, so any previous experience with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone services is a plus. If experience is lacking, you need to show yourself capable of learning the software system quickly and smoothly.
You must also be able to grasp product-related information in order to better help customers.
Your resume and background are crucial indicators of your technical abilities. An employer will want to know about any previous experience with team-based software, online databases or communications systems, and web development. It’s also a great idea to highlight any prior product expertise that requires in-depth technical knowledge.
7. Calm Under Pressure
Inevitably, you’ll face a moment at the call center when the calls are piling up, your customer is growing frustrated, and you can’t readily find a resource to help them. Your ability to stay cool and collected is crucial to maintaining a clear mind and a professional manner.
What’s more, if you’ve got your sights set on a managerial role, this skill will prove one of the most essential.
An easy way for employers to test your stress level is to observe your reactions during the interview. Your physical and verbal responses to tough questions offer quick insight into your ability to stay cool. You may also be asked to take a stress regulation assessment test that gauges your situational judgment and performance when the stakes are high.
Call agents are expected to prioritize their tasks and stay responsive all on their own.
Luckily, automated online tools like outbound dialing can streamline your ability to quickly reach customers. Nevertheless, you’ll need to stay sharp, be ready to ask questions, take notes, search the online database for answers, and make updates to the Client Relationship Management (CRM) system—all while engaging the customer.
During an interview, the employer might ask for a recent example of when you had to plan an event or balance a list of competing priorities. There are also assessment tests that measure your organizational skills using self-reporting methods and hypothetical scenarios.
9. Team Player
Many of a call agent’s daily tasks are managed independently, but you still operate as part of a team.
As an agent, being a team player means doing your best to manage calls efficiently, learn new products or systems quickly, and carry out your tasks with integrity. It’s highly unlikely you will earn promotions or more responsibilities without this skill.
To showcase your commitment to being a team player, your resume should highlight any past jobs where you successfully met objectives or solved problems as part of a group. Interviewers will often gauge this skill by asking you for specific examples of team-building or group performance.
Think ahead about case studies that highlight your ability to motivate your peers. Employers can also test this ability with assessments that feature real-world scenarios. Or, they may ask you to describe how you would manage them with your team in mind.