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What Skills are Needed for a Call Center

Tips and Skills Needed When Working in a Call Center

Call Center Skills Every Agent Needs

Call centers can be difficult places to work in. Agents must be able adapt to a fast-paced environment and work with multiple types of customers. They also need to remain calm, flexible, and friendly when under pressure.

It is essential that call center agents are skilled in creating a positive customer experience. To find these outstanding team members, it is important to first understand what skills are required to be a great agent.

It is equally important to hire the best call center agents as you have the right software. During the hiring process, candidates can be evaluated based on personality, skill, fit, and motivation. It doesn’t matter what your requirements are, it is helpful to understand exactly what makes an agent a success.

Before we get into the details of what makes a great agent in a call center, let’s first discuss what a call agent does and what skills are needed for a call center?

In this Article:

  • Call Center Skills Every Agent Needs
  • What skills are needed for a call center?
  • Most Important Qualities of a Call Center Agent
  • Call center agent job description
  • Call center agent responsibilities
  • FAQ’s

What skills are needed for a call center?

A call center requires a variety of skills. The more you practice these skills, the better employee you’ll be for this kind of job. Here are some examples of common skills used in call centers:

  • Active listener
  • Outgoing personality
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Computer skills
  • Multitasking
  • Product knowledge
  • Organizational skills

Most Important Qualities of a Call Center Agent

It’s not easy to be a call center agent. It’s not easy to be a hiring manager responsible for finding call center talent. Bad decisions made during the hiring process can have devastating consequences.

A call center manager who is able to understand the characteristics of a customer service agent will have a better chance of finding the right candidate.

This guide will discuss what a supervisor should look for when evaluating customer service representatives. It also includes tips on how managers can help agents deliver great customer service.

1.  Empathy

It is not the same as kindness, sympathy, and friendliness. Google defines empathy “the ability to understand the feelings and communicate them.”

Your call center agent should be able to help customers and prospects with their problems.

Here are a few empathetic statements:

  • “I completely understand how you feel. I would be frustrated too. Let me see what I can do.”
  • “I am extremely sorry to hear that. I will rectify that and get back to you with an update.”
  • “Oh, I am sorry to hear that! I will make sure that does not happen again.”

All the statements above show that your agent at the call center not only empathizes with the caller but also promises to take action to resolve it.

Empathy brings a human touch and shows that you care about your customers’ problems. Empathy is essential for building a relationship with customers and maintaining good customer relationships.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Prospects who are empathic often feel heard and have a positive experience calling. You can discuss with your team how the candidate felt during mock calling sessions. If they had a positive calling experience, it is likely that the candidate handled the call with empathy.

Another way to measure empathy is to observe how actively the candidate helps the prospect. Empathy is demonstrated by someone who takes the time to get to the root of the problem and provides the best solution.

2.  Quick-thinking

It is not always easy to follow a plan. You will teach your agents the intricacies of your business and how to solve problems. A sales representative might discover that the prospect they are speaking to has an objection not covered in their script. A customer support agent might also encounter an issue they are unable to identify.

In both cases, however, call center agents don’t have the luxury to take their time. The prospect is waiting for a response. These situations require that the call center agent think fast to find a satisfactory solution to help your customer. Modifying the pitch to better suit the prospect could be enough. In the case of customer support call center skills, having a senior agent available to help could solve the problem.

Quick-thinking agents in call centers can help customers get a first-call resolution. This will not only improve customer satisfaction but also increase the efficiency of your entire call center.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Can the candidate offer unique solutions to the problem? Give the candidate an unusual situation to solve in a mock call center session. See how they respond. Ask the candidate to come up with a solution. If the candidate refers the prospect to another person, that too can be considered a success.

3.  Ability to retain information

Without basic training, no call center agent will take up campaigns. The training they receive will vary depending on what type of calls they have to handle.

If the agent cannot retain all information and make use of it on the phone, they will struggle to deliver. Information retention does not have to be limited to your company. It can also relate directly or indirectly to the customer’s problem.

Let’s say a customer gives his details to the agent and also describes the problem. If the agent cannot retain the information, they will have to request it again. This would make the customer repeat the process. This is how poor customer service can work against you.

How to gauge this while hiring?

This one is easy to evaluate. In a mock call center session overload the candidate with information about the prospect, their problem, and so forth. Good candidates will not only remember most of the information, but they will also be able to retain the important information.

4.  Attention to detail

Your agent must have the essential skills to be a call center agent: learning about customers, understanding the best way to resolve an issue, and simply paying attention.

This is different from the ability to retain data (seen earlier), as the details are not obtained from the current call but from prior interactions with the prospect.

Imagine that your agent is talking to a customer calling in for the third time. To provide a better experience, even if the agent isn’t handling the call they can refer back to previous call notes.

  • “You had also mentioned an issue with deliverability – is that still a problem?” The details can also help in switching the sales pitch or the ask to the prospect.
  • “I see your team is spread across 80 countries – I would recommend opting for the Enterprise plan.”

These two situations show that prospects are more than just a voice. It also shows that you care about the details and are listening to what they have to say. This helps you to solve their problems and builds a relationship.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Cover letters and the CV are a great way to show how attentive the candidate is to small details.

Yes, CVs that contain glaring errors and typos are automatically null. But, it is possible to dig deeper. E.g. Check to see if your cover letter is tailored to your company and the job role. If the cover letter refers to and resonates with the job description, then it is likely that the candidate is paying close attention to the details and can translate those skills into calls.

5.  Being ‘Tech-savvy’

Tech-savvy is crucial for many customer support roles. Even for non-support agents, tech-savvy is essential. Your agents should be able handle your call center software without any problems or even better.

This is particularly important for advocacy and nonprofit organizations, where many of their agents are volunteers. To get the most from their time, you can help them learn how to make calls with as little training as possible.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Simple. To see what tools they are familiar with, check their past experience. If the candidate is new, ask them to navigate a call center software program by themselves or with minimal intervention.

These will give you an indication of the candidate’s ability to adapt to the tools used for your calling campaigns.

6.  Organizational skills

This could include data entry skills for call center jobs. Your customer will often reveal a lot of information during a phone call. It is important for your call center agent to be able to take down any valuable information.

It is important to be organized if the agent in a call center is responsible for collecting customer information, such as a survey.

How to gauge this while hiring?

You can host a mock interview with a prospect online during one of the round. You can watch the candidate record information and also see what kind of information.

Strong candidates will ask you what tools to use for recording the information. These agents can be seen taking notes even after the call is over, so the information is not lost.

Note-taking tools might be unfamiliar to a new candidate. They might resort to writing down notes on paper if this is the case. This is a sign that they are organized and have the ability to communicate their ideas.

7.  Effective communication

Your call center agent must be able to communicate clearly with customers. It is important to speak clearly and have a good vocabulary. It is important to understand what the customer wants and then resolve the issue.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Check out how your candidate communicates information during a mock call. Your call center agents may need to send follow-up emails and texts to prospects often. You should also check their written communication skills in such situations.

9.  Performing under pressure

An agent in a call center isn’t just about providing customer service. They must be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. It is important to be able to work well under pressure and learn to manage their emotions while keeping their eyes on the end goal.

Your call center’s efficiency would drop if this happened. Call center agents would be exhausted and not get results.

How to gauge this while hiring?

Simulate a call center setup and let the candidate answer a few calls. They will be given high-level targets to achieve.

Here are a few questions you can tick off:

  • Were they calm and collected
  • Did they manage to remain polite
  • Were they able to listen to the actual problem instead of responding to a prospect’s emotion?.

9.  Being Friendly

It is indeed a skill in this context. Friendly agents will be more approachable to customers than those who are extremely pedantic. Friendly does not necessarily mean engaging in idle chatter. This means being friendly to customers and showing warmth and friendliness. It means responding with a smile (yes, it does make a difference), using layman terms (and not slip into technical jargon) to explain the problem, and being human throughout each call.

How to gauge this during hiring?

You could simply count how many times the candidate smiled during the call. You could also give your mock prospect to determine how friendly they were over the phone.

It is also possible to see if the candidate can balance small talk with the heart of the call.

10.  Active listening

Your call center agent must be fully engaged in the conversation, not just listening to what the customer is saying. This means listening to what your prospect is saying and then responding. This includes listening to what your prospect is saying so you can offer a better solution.

  • “I don’t think I need this product right now”

This would appear to be a refusal for a new call center agent. A call center agent listening attentively would pick up the words “think” and “right now” and realize that the customer is only uncertain about the products or services.

Call Center Agent Job Description

The type of call center an agent works in will have a significant impact on their day-to-day responsibilities. Here is a list of some common responsibilities that a customer service agent in a call center may have.

1. You can communicate with customers through a variety of channels.

The way we communicate has changed dramatically over the last few years. It’s no surprise that many companies are transforming their contact centers to become omnichannel. Agents can now communicate with customers via multiple channels. An agent can help customers by phone, email, social media and live chat. Contact center agents should feel comfortable offering service via every channel.

All the statements above show that your agent at the call center not only empathizes with the caller but also promises to take action to resolve it.

Empathy brings a human touch and shows that you care about your customers’ problems. Empathy is essential for building a relationship with customers and maintaining good customer relationships.

2. Customer issues can be resolved efficiently and professionally.

Agents are usually the ones who deal with customers directly. This is why most call center jobs involve customer service. Agents are expected to respond quickly to customer problems and provide assistance. This requires problem-solving skills and research skills. Agents must know where to look for the information they need using the resources at their disposal.

3. Excellent customer service and a memorable customer experience are key.

This is in addition to the above-mentioned duty. Customer service agents have the most important job of creating a positive experience for customers. No matter the reason for calling, a great customer service agent will do everything possible to make sure that the customer has a memorable experience.

4. Effectively complete after-call work and other administrative tasks.

Contact center agents are more than helping customers. It is important to be able to perform various administrative tasks immediately following a call, or throughout the day. You can do this by simply recording customer interactions, updating customer files, giving feedback to management or pulling reports. Two essential skills for call center agents are organization and attention to detail.

Call Center Agent Responsibilities

Inbound and outbound calls are the primary duties of call center agents. Modern contact centers have many more responsibilities than just handling calls.

1.  Answering inbound calls

Agents in inbound call centers typically respond to calls from prospects and customers. The call center size, the inbound call volume, the industry, and the complexity of the issues that agents are usually solving will affect how many calls agents can handle during a given workday.

Call center representatives must have a wide range of phone skills to be able to communicate effectively over the phone. These include active listening, clear verbal communication skills (clarity in speech and diction), politeness, attention to detail, and politeness. Agents must not only be able to communicate effectively and master communication styles, but also know how to navigate customers calls. This includes answering properly, transferring calls to the right person, closing calls on a positive note, and placing callers on hold.

2.  Processing orders and payments

One of the most important duties of a call center agent is to take and process orders. Agents answer customers’ questions about company products and services. If they are deciding to buy, they will also place the order. Agents must have a deep understanding of the company and its products. Agents are responsible for tracking orders and handling cancellations and exchanges. They also resolve payment issues and address shipping problems.

3.  Handling customer complaints

One of the most important duties of a call center representative is to deal with unhappy customers and handle complaints. Customer service representatives must be able:


  • Ask the right questions to understand the root cause of the complaint.
  • Know the type of customer you are dealing with so that you can respond accordingly.
  • Empathize and use the appropriate empathy statements.
  • Provide a solution and confirm that it is solved.
  • If they lack the necessary skill or authority to solve the issue immediately, they should escalate.

4.  Following up on customer calls

Although first call resolution is a great scenario for any call center, not all customer questions can be answered in the first call. This is especially true for SaaS companies that sell complex and technically advanced products. Agents need to follow-up with customers to let them know if the problem has been resolved.

5.  Making outbound calls

Outbound call center agents make outbound calls to customers and prospects. These calls can be used for cold calling, validating leads, collecting surveys, non-profit and charity fundraising, appointment setting, proactive customer service notifications, and other purposes. Many of these calls can be made using various call center dialers, which can greatly improve the efficiency and productivity of agents.

6.  Upselling and cross-selling

Agents in call centers are often encouraged to spot and capitalize on potential cross-selling and upselling opportunities while interacting with customers. Call center agents can upsell customers by directing them to a better or more valuable product or service. Cross-selling refers to when an agent encourages customers to buy a similar or complementary product or services. Cross-selling or upselling requires more than adhering to pre-made communication protocols. Agents must be creative and flexible to tailor their approach to each customer.

7.  Conducting market research

Agents in outbound call centers are often required to conduct market research. This is because it is crucial for new product launches. It helps marketers to understand the market and their competitors better and make informed decisions. Agents will often need to use automated outbound calling technology when conducting market research. Agents can make automated outbound calls in excess of 100 per day, without dialing numbers manually.

8.  Managing and updating customer databases

Call center agents have one of their administrative responsibilities: reviewing and updating the call center databases within the customer relationship management system (CRM). CRM stores all customer data, including contact information, purchase history and shipping preferences. It also records all interactions with companies in the past. Agents can use this information to provide a personalized customer experience. This data can be accessed by agents easily and updated as needed after each customer interaction.

9.  Collecting and reporting on customer feedback

Many businesses have only one direct contact with their customers: the call center agent. Agents can be a valuable resource for gathering customer feedback and reporting it to senior management. This is often done by conducting customer interviews. Agents can gain deeper insight into customers’ opinions about the company’s products and services by having live phone conversations with them. They can also learn what their problems are, as well as what they believe a business could do to improve.

10.  Training and onboarding new call center agents

Agents in call centers may be involved with people management initiatives like training and onboarding new agents to the customer service team. Agents need to be knowledgeable about the products and services they sell, as well as the culture and policies of their company to be productive and efficient. Agents must also be familiar with the details of the call center software they use in order to make sure that the center runs smoothly. The training and onboarding of new members is usually handled by the call center manager or senior agents.


What are call center soft skills?

Agents in contact centers develop soft skills from their personal experiences and then use these to create a positive customer experience. This skill-set is essential to create a positive work environment.

Soft skills are more important than hard skills for employers, as most of the hard skills can be learned through call center training. It’s easier to show someone how to use a computer program than to help them empathize and communicate with customers


Listening is the first step to communication. Active listening, in particular, involves paying attention to the customer’s words and processing them. It also requires the ability to resist the temptation of interrupting and respond in a thoughtful and validating way.

Agents in a contact center are often faced with many problems from customers. Agents must actively listen to customers in order to fully understand their problem and find the right resource to assist them. Active listening is also essential when dealing with angry customers.

To do their job, call center agents need to be able to communicate clearly. In their communication with customers, agents must be professional and clear. Agents should also be able communicate their knowledge of products and services to customers in a clear, understandable manner. Clear communication leads to faster resolutions and professionalism increases customer satisfaction.

Role playing is an excellent form of training for call center agents. It helps them learn to listen, understand and communicate.

Adaptability is crucial because call center agents work with customers who are at the end of each day human beings. Agents must be able to adapt to new ways to do business in order to meet customer needs. Contact centers use technology such as call monitoring to track progress.

Changes that require adaptability may mean additional training or mentoring to adapt to customer needs or the introduction of new technology to increase efficiency.

A lot of calls an agent gets involve listening to the problem and finding a solution. Agents need to think quickly and be able to identify the problem and determine what the customer needs.

Problem solving is a soft skill. It requires initiative, autonomy, and the ability to adapt to new situations. A good problem-solving skill can increase customer satisfaction and average handling time.

Call center agents must be patient with customers, even though they hate waiting. An agent should show the same patience when taking care of customers’ needs. An agent’s patience might be likened to waiting for the customer to tell their story, particularly if they are confused or upset.


Although some customers may not instantly recognize an agent’s patience, they will notice their impatience. This soft skill is crucial for customer loyalty and problem solving.

Many callers to a phone center have a problem that they wish to solve. Customers might feel upset, confused, or even angry. An agent’s empathy shows that they care about customers and can comfort them. Customer support is essential during difficult or confusing times.

What are hard skills of a call center agent?

The skills that an employee needs to be able to do a job well are called hard skills. These skills are tangible and can be improved through training, education, and practice. Hard skills are sometimes referred to as “teachable” skills.

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