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What Makes a Great Agent?

January 01, 2016 Kaylene Eckels

“What makes a great agent?” This is a key question that every leader in the contact center asks. They understand that with great agents serving customers, all stakeholders will be happy and satisfied.

Many aspects make an agent great, and I believe being a great communicator tops the list. In essence, we can talk about what makes a great communicator, and we will have our answer to what makes a great agent.

A great communicator has a pleasing disposition and is a terrific conversationalist, which are great traits. However, when you possess critical thinking you will set yourself apart leading to greatness.

Dictionary.com defines critical thinking as disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded and informed by evidence. Another equally interesting definition is, critical thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.

Let me take you back a little, an agent’s main responsibility is to assist customers. If the customer wants to purchase something online, they will close the sale, if the customer has a problem, they will offer them a solution, and much more. Overall, they will provide a solution to the customer.

With the above in mind, look again at the definition of critical thinking. An agent, who is a good communicator and can think critically, will be an invaluable asset to the contact center. That agent will be able to listen to the customer’s issue/inquiry, understand it, analyze it with what he knows about the product, and give the customer the appropriate resolution or information.

An agent, with critical thinking, understands that each customer is different, and they treat him or her as such. The agent seeks to give him or her best assistance; therefore, each customer is satisfied. The agent knows that as much as there is the set procedure for resolving customer issues, they can work around it as long as the customer will be satisfied and they will act according to the company code of conduct.

How then can you encourage your agents to be critical thinkers? Here are two tips that can fast track this process for any leader in the contact center industry.

  1. Encourage out of the box thinking

    The first thing to do is to encourage the agents you see practicing thinking outside the box. It is common for an agent to stick to the script and not think of other solutions that may help the customer.

    For example, an angry customer tests the thinking of an agent. Will the agent simply follow the script? What is the customer doesn’t calm down even after following it word for word? In such a situation, if an agent thinks of a creative way of calming him/her down and therefore resolves the problem, they should be motivated to keep doing it. Acknowledge their effort and they will do more of that.

  2. Create Coaching Opportunities

    Coaching helps the agent to relook at their interactions with customers and think through it. If the agent does not see anything wrong with their conversations, you can assist by pointing them out and then asking him or her how they could have handled that situation better.

    Coaching is not only for pinpointing areas of improvement; but you can also use them to encourage critical thinking. An agent may not even know they did well to change the script.

    Remember to give the agents a chance to ask questions.

In conclusion, the more agents you have who can think critically, the more empowered you customer care team will be. With an empowered team interacting with your customers, the quality of customer service will be great. Use the above tips to move your agents from good to great communicators.

Kaylene Eckels

Kaylene Eckels is the Chief Operations Officer for Etech Global Services. Kaylene has been associated with Etech Global Services for past 14 Years. Kaylene held numerous leadership positions at business information leader, Dun & Bradstreet. Kaylene believes a servant leader’s greatest priority is to add value to others; selecting, equipping, developing and supporting individuals and teams to reach their full potential.