As the point of contact with customers, a contact center agent can single-handedly make or break a sale – and the customer relationship. That’s why a contact center must hire the best agents for their brand. Today, we’ll share some insights on what we look for in our next great relationship-building agent.

What does a ‘great’ agent look like?

Here’s an example of what a successful contact center agent profile matched with the right position:

agent demos

Which competencies are essential for contact center agents?

An agent should possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and physical and mental ability required for the job. When we say skills, we mean problem-solving skills, managing difficult situations (and difficult people), patience, and compassion. When we say knowledge, we suggest a general understanding of answering phone calls, carrying on conversations, and utilizing basic systems knowledge of computers, phone systems, and CRM databases.

You’ll likely hire plenty of agents that don’t know your specific systems, so look for people who are easily trainable and have the ability (and desire) to learn quickly.

Do they have a motivation fit?

A contact center agent must have the proper motivation, meaning a sense of the job, the work culture, and their interests in your products and customer base. Correctly matching a candidate’s motivation to the job environment predicts an agent’s success. Some important considerations:

  • Are they comfortable with the nature of the job (constant monitoring, a high accountability factor, constant pressure to perform, etc.)? Ask candidates about their favorite (and least favorite) work environment during their interview. This will help reveal if they could be successful in your environment.
  • Do they understand your company’s goals and the work environment? If they have worked in a fast-paced retail environment, for example, will they be ok with the sedentary nature of this job? If the candidate is easily distracted or can’t handle long periods of sitting or constant background noise (contact centers are NOT quiet), they are probably not cut out for the contact center.

Are they a good listener?

An essential aspect of a contact center agent’s job is to listen to customers effectively. This is the foundation of adaptive selling. You can only customize your approach and solution if you really understand the problem. If they absolutely love to talk, it may be wise to cut off the conversation. A contact center agent who does more talking than listening will aggravate your customers and lead to longer call times with fewer resolutions.

Can they build rapport quickly with customers?

A contact center agent needs to quickly and effortlessly build rapport with customers. Think to yourself: will they be able to convey to the customer that they want to help, that they empathize with their issue, and that they can sort it out? If the person lacks a genuine desire to be helpful – or doesn’t like people – you should avoid hiring them for a relationship-building position like this.

If your contact center agents mostly interact with customers via phone or chat, it’s best to conduct a portion of the interview this way. Then, you can evaluate their communication skills in the appropriate setting.