What Skills Should a Call Center Operator Have: Manager’s Evaluation

By hiring agents based on their personal qualities, you create a more reliable and stable team in the call center. Read how to evaluate the soft skills of an operator!

What Skills Should a Call Center Operator Have: Manager’s Evaluation

To be successful in a call center, agents need special skills: they must handle a large flow of dissatisfied customers, they must be able to both strictly follow scripts and give customers information that is not in scripts, they must be patient, attentive, able to adapt – that is, to have all that is called developed communication skills, including the ability to listen. These are the qualities that make the operator more successful, and they are classified as “personal qualities” (soft skills). At the same time, they can hardly be identified by looking at a resume, and even at a standard interview, these qualities can be difficult to discern and evaluate. Of course, it is important to check the compliance of applicants’ resumes with reality, evaluate professional skills, computer literacy, typing speed – what is required for work. However, typing speed will not give you a reliable prediction of how long a candidate will last in an operator position. So, are there any ways to evaluate the personal qualities of the applicant?

Can personal qualities be measured?

Until recently, the methods used to assess personal qualities have been subjective and unsystematic. As employers begin to realize that these so-called “Microsocial” skills are important to their employees’ success, more formalized methods are emerging. There are specially designed tests for identifying and assessing the personal qualities of candidates and employees, but they all require self-report of the test takers, and this makes them not completely reliable. While these tests show a link between test scores and performance, there is still quite a bit of work to be done in this regard. In any case, there are no good tests developed specifically for call centers yet, and managers are left to invent their own “measures” of soft skills. The development of methods for assessing personal qualities should begin with their clarification. The better you articulate the quality or skill required to work in your call center, the more likely you are to identify and evaluate exactly what your job requires. For example, many consider it essential for an operator to have good “communication skills”. But what does “communication skill” mean to you? Does it imply the applicant’s ability to communicate clearly during a tense argument, or does it imply that the candidate will be able to sell an additional service to the client? Both abilities are manifestations of “social skill,” but require different methods of identifying applicants that better meet your criteria. Once you have compiled a list of required skills and qualities, you will need to determine the usefulness of each of them. To do this, put the question in this way: “if we have more employees who can X, will our call center become more productive?”. By finding all the “X’s” for which the answer is yes, you will determine what needs to be evaluated when selecting applicants. This exercise will allow you to identify several qualities or skills that are key to being successful in your call center. Finally, you’ll also find specific activities that you can track. Like, “if I had more employees to keep 50% of problem customers” is already something that can be measured. Thus, identifying and evaluating the qualities that are really needed for your CC is the first step to take in order to hire and retain the best people on the staff.

What’s on the resume?

Applicants often directly indicate in their resumes along with professional and their personal qualities. They write, for example, that they are “easily adaptable” or “have excellent communication skills.” List them in a special section or mention when describing their previous work. Searching for descriptions of soft skills on resumes will show you that applicants who mention them are at least aware of the need for good human interaction. But this is not enough. First, you need to remember that people are not honest enough when writing their resumes. In one study, 54% of job seekers were found to be understated or outright lying on their resumes. Second, people are very bad at evaluating their own skills. It happens that people who think they have excellent communication skills are hard to understand by others. Third, candidates often write about personal qualities when professional skills are scarce. This means that if the resume pays a lot of attention to personal qualities, this may hide the lack of demanded skills from the applicant. Fourth, think about whether you can draw some conclusions about the personal qualities of the applicant based on his behavior. For example, according to another study, job seekers who use Chrome or Firefox tend to stay longer in call centers. Perhaps this is due to the fact that these browsers need to be installed independently, unlike Internet Explorer, which comes standard with Windows. And this means that the person is likely to show initiative in everyday life, which he can also show when working in your company. Finally, some candidates who have excellent personal qualities may not know that they should be listed on a resume. Thus, by studying only resumes, you may miss out on great employees.

Interviewing on softskills

Since it is difficult to understand something about the personal qualities of the applicant from the resume, you need to do this during the interview. And the first way is to use questions that require detailed answers that will allow the candidate to show the qualities you need. For example, you can ask the following questions:

  • Tell me about a time when there was a misunderstanding between you and a colleague. How did you deal with this situation? (Sociability)
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to learn something new? How did you do it? (Adaptability)
  • Have you ever had problems at work before? Tell us how you solved them? (Initiative)
  • Give an example of a situation where a conflict arose between you and one of your colleagues. How did you solve this situation? (Teamwork, conflict resolution)
  • Have you ever fallen behind your work schedule? How did you make up for lost time? (Responsibility, time management)
  • Have you ever noticed that your colleague is doing something wrong? How did you behave during this? (Honesty, integrity)

How the applicant answers your questions will give you a good idea of how he uses the “micro-skills” that you expect to have. The second way: you can ask applicants to rank their personal qualities according to the degree of their development. While most job seekers know what to say about their strengths, asking them to rank skills from most developed to least will show you what they really think of themselves. And the third way: you can design an aptitude test so that it also works as a personality test.

Salvation in recommendations

In addition to the information that the applicant provides, you should also check his references. When you do this, try to find out about his personal qualities as well. Keep in mind that when personality traits require yes or no answers, referees tend to rate their former employees positively out of a variety of concerns. Therefore, you should ask questions that will allow you to find out the details. Instead of asking the person making the recommendation if the applicant is good at communicating, ask them to describe their communication style. Ask about a specific case, such as a stressful situation the applicant has experienced. Additionally, you can ask questions about the negative qualities of the applicant. Just as you can ask an applicant about his weaknesses, you can also ask his referee what qualities the applicant should develop or improve.

Personal qualities at work

You will be able to train your employees in specific professional skills if they have developed the training skill. Therefore, sometimes it is more important to understand what personal qualities the applicant has than to find out how fast he can type on the keyboard or how familiar he is with special software. When you hire agents based on their personal qualities, you create a more reliable and stable workforce in your call center. Translation: Oki-Toki , source: callcentrehelper

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