As we’re considering the purchase of a product or service, we’re bound to need more information, and this may be even more common in an after-sales situation. Which is why as consumers, we’ll be naturally looking for a place or person to ask along the way.
The call center or contact center is one such place. Somewhere we can reach out to via phone, email, live chat or social media, at any time, to find the answers we’re looking for. Call centers provide us with information from qualified personnel whom may have varying titles from call center agent through to customer care advisor. But what do they actually do?
What does a customer care agent do?
A customer care advisor is the person responsible for dealing with customer or prospect inbound contacts and queries about products and services sold or provided by a business. The queries are very diverse depending on the company type, they could be basic account management queries, product delivery tracking, complaints, payment processing etc. Contacts may also originate from various channels such as phone, email, live chat and social media.
Call center agents may also be tasked with making outbound calls, for example to contact a lead and close a sale, or for compliance reasons. These agents are known as telesales or telemarketing advisors and they usually use a database and a software to automatically dial these calls.
Within the same call center team, some agents may have more experience on certain topics or specific skillsets such as language skills and their managers may wish to assign some contacts to them as a priority if they are available when said contact comes in.
On occasion, supervisors may decide they want some agents to be able to handle both incoming and outgoing contacts, for example when customers are queuing for too long before reaching an advisor. This is known as agent blended mode and is a capability available in the ICR Evolution software. In larger contact centers or business process outsourcers (BPOs), this feature is particularly useful when dealing with multiple clients at the same time.
How does a call center agent perform their work?
Advisors in contact centers usually work in shifts, meaning they are assigned certain working hours and days depending on how resourcing is planned by contact center managers. Some call centers operate on typical business hours whereas others are 24/7.
The work of a call center advisor can be broken down in various stages:
- Answering the call: this is where you’ll be picking up the phone and identifying the caller and their reason for contact, it’s your one opportunity to make an impression!
- Resolving the query: listening actively to the query and providing the correct response
- Cross-selling if applicable: if you’ve given excellent customer care, chances are the caller will be happy to buy something from you
- After-call work: this is where you take the agreed actions and then leave a note in the customer’s file so that others can see contact history and deal with the customer more efficiently next time
What skills do you need to be a contact center agent?
Different call centers will be looking for different skillsets depending on the type of business, product or service they run. However, mastering these soft and hard skills will always go a long way in showing you can provide excellent care to customers:
- Patience to actively listen to customers who are sometimes confused or indecisive
- Diplomacy to deal with angry and occasionally abusive customers
- Software literacy meaning you are familiar with a computer environment as you will most likely be using a dedicated software to deal with queries
- Excellent elocution to make sure you can provide answers that can be understood
You don’t necessarily need a lot of experience to work as a call center advisor, but you do need perseverance and motivation. You’ll generally be rewarded with a fun working atmosphere and career development opportunities.
We hope this has been a useful overview of the responsibilities of a contact center agent. In our opinion, it’s a great job if you’re starting out in life, are social and like to help others. As a call center advisor, you get to represent a business when customers need it the most!