Posts Tagged ‘call center agent’

Remote Agents in the Call Center: a Trend You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Posted on: July 12th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

The call center industry is undergoing significant changes at the moment, with the general trend seeing a significant increase in hiring remote agents.

Remote work is gaining popularity in the call center, and for good reason. But is it really worth relying call center activities on remote workforce?

Besides a number of benefits we already talked about in a previous article, recent studies have shown that remote agents are more productive. Also, it seems they enjoy working from home and wouldn’t want to give up on it.

The shift from on-premise to virtual

As these days most customer service departments operate internationally, call center activities often require flexible and multilingual workforce, which is, of course, challenging to hire.

At the same time, the rise of cloud contact center technology enabled for call centers to provide their agents with an easy-to-use solution that requires no IT maintenance and can be accessed anytime from anywhere.

As a result, call centers have slowly started to shift from bricks-and-mortar to virtual premises, leveraging home-based workforce.

Amongst other things, remote agents are cost-effective, as call centers can significantly save on office expenses. Also, employees these days increasingly prefer flexibility at work, and the idea of working remotely from home is very appealing to most of them, helping you reduce burnout in your agent team. And last but definitely not least, as already mentioned, recent studies have shown a significant increase in remote workers’ productivity.

If you’re still not convinced about the benefits of remote agents, then let the numbers speak for themselves!  

Employees prefer remote working

As of 2019, remote workforce is getting more and more popular, with 66% of companies allowing remote work and 16% being fully remote.

According to a recent survey carried out by Talentlms, employees increasingly prefer remote work opportunities. As such, 85% of remote workers say that remote work was their decision because they wanted more flexibility, to make their own hours, and to live a carefree lifestyle.”

These results are not surprising at all, considering that these days flexibility is high on the list of employees’ priorities. Today’s workers increasingly reject traditional working hierarchies, so chances are they will expect to be offered flexible working options once or twice a week, as well as a possibility of remote work.

Furthermore, according to the survey, “60% of respondents have to follow a 9-5, 5-days-a-week work schedule”. So why is it more flexible than an on-site job?

Well, home office creates a more relaxing workplace than ever-more popular open plan offices, allowing your agents to set up their ideal work environment.

And it is not only more flexible but also more cost-effective as employees don’t need to pay for commuting. Speaking of commuting, the majority of workers spend 30 minutes on average commuting. As such, remote work also allows agents to save some time.  

It’s no surprise then that only “20% of those who work from the comfort of their own home would rather go back to working in a company office.”

Productivity is the engine that keeps the call center running. And while working from home might feel lonely, almost no one feels unproductive. In fact, 90% feel they get more work done when working remotely. Quite impressive, isn’t it?

And what will the future bring to the home-based workforce model? The numbers suggest it will gain even more popularity.  

Indeed, “35% of remote workers want to work more days remotely while 6 out of 10 would like their job less if they had to say goodbye to their home office and visit their company every day to do the exact same job.”

Take away

Workplace trends are rapidly changing and it really does seem that both agents and companies can greatly benefit from adopting the home-based business model. By relying on remote agents, you can cut costs, increase productivity and keep your agents satisfied in the long run. So maybe it’s time for your call center to give it a try?  

5 Pro Tips to Retain Your Best Call Center Agents

Posted on: July 5th, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

These days, businesses need to provide their employees with reasons to stay at the company. Offering an outstanding working environment and conditions is essential, but it is increasingly not enough in a business world where most industries face labor shortages. 

From the very beginning, call centers have had a bad reputation for being stressful places to work at. As such, it’s no surprise that agent retention is of utmost importance to most call centers.

In this article, we’ll give you five pro tips that will help you keep your agents in your team in the long run. Read on!

Empower them with the right tools

Technology is advancing at lighting speed, and it’s no different in the call center business. Therefore, instead of pushing your agents too much, make sure to rely on up-to-date technology to help them in their everyday work.

Making agents’ jobs easier by empowering them with smart call center features, such as a predictive dialer, CRM integration or call blending, will definitely encourage them to plan for the long term in your call center. In addition, system integrations will allow your agents to rely on a single all-in-one platform, instead of having to navigate around several systems.

In an ever-changing technological business environment, you need to keep up with technology advancements anyway, don’t you?

Offer valuable feedback

One thing is for sure: in a fast-paced work environment such as a call center, the majority of agents will undoubtedly appreciate feedback in order to able to excel at their job.

Valuable feedback can not only have a great impact on your agents’ performance but also provide them with the professional guidance any employee needs in order for them to plan for the long term in the workplace.

As such, always make sure to allocate enough time for one-to-one sessions with your agents and offer specific and crystal-clear feedback to them. If you need more help with this, check out our article on how to give feedback to your call center agents.  

Provide Systematic Training

When you allow your agents to talk to your customers, you are basically putting your company’s reputation in their hands. In other words, as it is your agents who can keep your customers happy in the long run, make sure to provide them with systematic training sessions so that they can treat customers in a way that is worthy of your company. 

When it comes to training call center agents, there are quite a few best practices. Reviewing recorded calls together with your agents, for example, will allow you to provide them with a crystal-clear example of what is and what is not acceptable during a customer call. 

Also, when training your agents, set your creativity free. You can, for example, create a common knowledge base, and encourage your agents to contribute to it with their own knowledge.

Career Development Opportunities

Call center agents have to work hard to hit their (often unrealistic) target KPIs. Of course, in such a competitive environment, agents crave recognition from management.

Appreciating your agents is a great first step, however, if you really want to retain your agents, make sure to create a workplace environment in which they are encouraged to plan for the long term.

Younger generations put a great emphasis on career opportunities. And as the call center industry is constantly growing, so do the opportunities to fulfill a career at a call center. As such, try and offer internal job promotion opportunities when your best agents reached their maximum potential in their agent team.

Add some fun to work

If you want to retain your best agents, then creating a collaborative atmosphere and better work culture should be high on your list of priorities.

Anyway, who says call center life can’t be enjoyable? There are plenty of ways to make your agents’ everyday work just a little bit more interesting.

For example, you can leverage call center gamification and introduce games into agents’ daily activities, including offering prizes to agents in order to encourage growth in both their engagement and performance.

Another great way to keep agents stay is by allowing them to contribute to social causes. Supporting a charity or organizing fundraising events as part of corporate social responsibility will definitely encourage your agents to feel connected to a larger cause, while also helping your business boost team morale.

5 Handy Tips for Training Call Center Agents

Posted on: February 1st, 2019 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Motivated agents are the key to your call center’s success. Also, it is your agents who can keep your customers happy in the long run. Therefore, we collected some handy tips for training call center agents to help you get the most of your agent team. Make sure to check them and out and start using them today!

1. Provide agents with the proper tools

First things first: if you want your agents to perform well in their job, then pushing them too much won’t help you, but using reliable and up-to-date technology tools will definitely make a difference. A reliable call center software is fundamental to any well-run call center. Software options these days come with extremely smart features, such as a predictive dialer, CRM integration, or call blending. In addition, system integrations will allow your agents to rely on a single all-in-one platform, instead of having to navigate among several systems.

2. Make your agents handle real customer calls

Role-play exercises are an inevitable part of call center training. In fact, learning about possible customer service scenarios is a great way to prepare your agents for any future customer issues. Still, it is real call handling that pushes agents to perform 100%. Of course, throwing your agents in the deep end is not recommended but as they proceed with their induction period, you can slowly start allowing them to handle real customer calls. Just make sure to be ready to help them out if needed.

3. Offer feedback on recorded calls

Call centers often record their calls for training purposes, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity to use recorded calls to give useful feedback to your agents. Amongst other benefits, by reviewing calls together with your agent, they can receive a crystal-clear example of what is and what is not acceptable during a customer call.

4. Provide one-to-one feedback sessions

Our pro tip for training call center agents is to always allocate time for regular one-to-one feedback sessions with each of them. One-to-one sessions are by far the best way to discuss things, and much better than offering negative feedback publicly, which we would never recommend. Also, when it comes to giving feedback to your agents, always ensure all feedback you give is clear and specific.

5. Reward your best-performing agents

Agents have to work hard to hit their target KPIs. Of course, in such a competitive environment, they crave recognition from management. Therefore, another call center training best practice is to give away prizes each month to agents who successfully meet their targets. For example, handing out tokens or creating coupons for work-from-home days might be a great idea to keep them motivated. After all, motivation is the major driving force that keeps your agents going.

Do you have any call center training tips that you would recommend? If so, don’t hesitate to share them with us in our comments section!

How to Prepare for a Call Center Agent Interview

Posted on: November 9th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

You may not think so but working as a call center professional has great potential: if you perform well in your job there’s no doubt you will thrive – and so will your career.

Although call centers have a bad rep, the industry has changed a lot in recent years. One significant change is that the demand for call center professionals is definitely on the rise. According to a survey carried out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, call center agent jobs are expected to grow 5% between 2016 to 2026, and 39% between 2014 to 2024.

Furthermore, working as a call center agent now requires a lot more than carrying out the same repetitive tasks. As customers these days can rely on self-service options to resolve their own issues, they only contact customer service teams when they have complicated issues. So, instead of handling simple tasks, agents need to rely on their solid industry knowledge and problem-solving skills in order to best serve customers.

If you’re thinking about starting a career in the call center industry, then the first challenge you’ll need to overcome is to nail a call center agent interview. In this article, we’ll show you how you can prepare for and get the most out of your interview. Read on and go get that job!

Research, research, research…

Needless to say, never go to an interview unprepared. If you want to make a good impression (and we trust you do), make sure to allocate enough time to research the company and the position you apply for.

Call center agent interviews usually start with some opening questions. There’s no doubt you’ll be asked questions regarding the position, so make sure you have detailed information on what call center agents do on a daily basis. There are tons of articles out there (for example our articles on the most important call center agent skills and useful agent life hacks), or you can even turn to a friend who is already working in the industry.

In addition, many interviewers ask candidates questions about the company’s history, and it’s definitely a plus if you can answer these questions. In fact, being well-informed will make you more confident, while demonstrating that you’re serious about working for the company in question. 

Language competence

In today’s globalized world, businesses are constantly expanding into new markets, while also focusing on creating a solid online presence. And as multilingual customer service departments are on the rise, call center agents often find themselves interacting with customers who speak a different language. You will also talk to a bunch of customers with a strong accent, so it’s vital that you have advanced language skills.  

There’s no doubt, most call centers are constantly on the lookout for agents with excellent language proficiency, so your language skills will probably be tested during any call center agent interview.  

It’s definitely a good idea to refresh your grammar knowledge as interviewers may ask you to fill out a language test. Plus, you can be sure that you’ll be required to use your language skills in an everyday conversation as well.

Situational questions

Call center agents interact with hundreds of customers on an average day, and have to resolve all kinds of customer issues. As you’ll be the face of the company, it is of utmost importance how you’ll handle difficult situations.

Therefore, you can be pretty sure that you’ll be asked to participate in situational exercises. During a situational exercise, you’ll be put in a problematic situation where you’ll need to come up with the best solution.

These exercises are used by interviewers to review the candidate’s capability to react to a situation when faced with conflict. Our best advice here is to try and remain calm while relying on your problem-solving skills. Also, putting yourself in the customer’s shoes will definitely help you come up with a customer-centric solution.

Typical call center agent interview questions

Last but not least, let’s look at some classic questions you can expect during a call center agent interview.

Why do you want to work as a call center agent?

It’s no secret that agent turnover is extremely high in call centers. Therefore, motivation is one of the most important traits interviewers look for in candidates. Make sure to think over why you applied for the position in the first place and prepare with an honest but persuasive answer. Whether you have ambitions to climb the call center ladder or simply enjoy interacting with customers, make sure to express it during the call center agent interview.  

Are you technologically savvy?

These days most call centers utilize several technology solutions, and agents are required to use them on a daily basis, so don’t be surprised if the interviewer asks about your computer proficiency, such as your familiarity with certain systems.

As call centers use different systems, don’t worry if you’re not familiar with all of them. Once you get the job you’ll be trained on how to use them. Just make sure to demonstrate your willingness to learn.

Are you a good multitasker?

Call center agents work on several campaigns and deal with a great number of customers. And these days customers expect answers quickly, meaning you’ll already need to think about a possible solution as you listen to the customer. As a result, the ability to multitask is of utmost importance for any call center who wants to thrive in their job.

Can you perform well under pressure?

If you want to work as a call center agent, what you can be sure about is that you’ll face plenty of unexpected issues. In addition, you’ll get into situations where you simply cannot find the solution at first. In such cases, you’ll need to try and remain calm in order to sort out the issue in the shortest time possible.

As working under pressure is highly characteristic of any call center agent job, you’ll need to convince the interviewers about your ability to perform well in a stressful environment. Start by remaining calm during the call center agent interview, then share some examples from your previous jobs where you managed to successfully resolve a stressful situation.

 

Interviewing for a new job is never easy. But if you follow our tips to prepare for your call center agent interview, you’ll definitely have better chances to get hired. May the odds be in your favor! 

5 types of call center agents – and how to motivate them

Posted on: June 14th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Call centers seem to attract particular types of personalities. And although every call center – just like every office – is comprised of individuals, there are some types of character you’ll meet at almost every call center.

As we all know, a happy team is a productive team. So, as a call center supervisor, one of your most essential ongoing tasks will be to keep your agent team happy and motivated. However, as your team consists of individuals, you will not be able to simply deal with them in the same way.

In this article, we’ll highlight the five most common types of call center agents, and show you how to motivate them successfully.

 

1. The overachiever

“Overachievers” are the highest performing employees in your team, both in terms of success and work rate: they are the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. Chances are that you’ll even see them scrolling through their emails during their lunch break.

“Overachievers” are determined to climb the call center career ladder (for pro tips on how to do that, click here), and most likely no one will be able to stand in their way.

When it comes to their daily work, “overachievers” are committed to getting things done. Their persistent attitude makes them excellent problem solvers, which is a great asset to any customer service team.

How to motivate them: as they always strive to be the best, you can best motivate them by assigning them tasks with a higher level of responsibility. By being entrusted with such responsibility, they’ll feel that they stand out from their team of agents due to their excellent performance.

“Overachievers” want to feel valued by management as well as their teammates, so you can best empower them by giving them positive feedback. And don’t forget to promote them when they are ready to take their skills to the next level: that will be their ultimate motivation!

 

2. The entertainer

Every office has a clown: the agent who loves to socialize and keep people around them laughing, with a joke for every situation.

“Entertainer” agents have a positive mindset, a really great skill to have when your job is to help customers over the phone. They tend to provide a high level of customer service, and should definitely be considered an asset to your team.

One thing is for sure: an “entertainer” call center agent will never mistreat your customers, even if they are having a bad day.  Furthermore, due to their positive mindset, they tend to get along with both their colleagues and customers. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

How to motivate them: a positive and fun office culture will greatly motivate this type of call center agent. An “entertainer” center is usually an energetic person who can be very productive in their preferred environment. However, always bear in mind that they won’t function very well if they feel they’re too restricted.

Plus tip: when it comes to team building activities, ask them to help you organize the event. You can be sure they’ll totally go for it.

 

3. The transient agent

Like it or not, there will always be “transient” agents in your call center agent team, here today and gone tomorrow (or maybe the day after). Many employees see call center work as a temporary workplace until they find a better job. “Transient” agents in your team will most likely lack a sense of responsibility and will have no intention of settling in.

How to motivate them: first of all, don’t give up on them so easily! Although many people think that call centers and careers don’t mix, the truth is that call center employees have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of career opportunities. So, why not highlight the career possibilities in your call center to such employees? If you manage to change their attitude, they may even end up becoming valuable members of your team.  

 

4. The loyal agent

In contrast to the “transient” agent, “loyal” agents in your team have been with you for years, and the good news is that they have no intention of leaving. This type of call center agent plans for the long term and their long-term plan is to have a stable career in the call center. Yes, really.

As they are committed to help your company succeed, they tend to provide exceptional customer service, representing your business in the way you want them to.

How to motivate them: while the “loyal” agent probably won’t be striving to climb the career ladder much, there is one thing that’ll be essential to them: organized internal processes. Make sure to give them clear instructions, and always provide them with the tools they need to carry out their tasks. Furthermore, give them a free hand in complex situations so that they can make their own decisions. Finally, don’t forget to involve them in training sessions. As they have extensive knowledge and experience, they may well be able to help the rest of your team improve.

 

5. The leader material

The “leader material” agent is a highly valuable asset to your organization. This type of employee is a real thinker: they see the whole picture and come up with ideas that could help you improve productivity. Maybe once you’re ready to leave the company, you’ll be happy to turn over the reins to them. As they are high achievers, gaining specialist knowledge is what’s important to them.

How to motivate them: once you have them in your team, you better do your best to try to keep them motivated.  As they crave challenging tasks, they will soon become bored with routine tasks. Therefore, make sure to assign complex duties to them, and look for alternative roles for them when they’ve outgrown their current job. If you empower this type of call center agent, then you can consider them potential future leaders at the call center.

 

 

Here’s how you can survive a call center night shift

Posted on: June 7th, 2018 by dorarapcsak No Comments

Over the last decade, globalization has turned traditional working hours upside down, and 24/7 service has become an essential part of every modern business. Due to this culture change, call centers are now typically expected to provide 24/7 customer service, and employees are often required to work call center night shifts.

If you’re lucky, you may be a “night owl”, meaning that you are generally more productive during the night. If you are an “owl”, then night shifts probably aren’t a big problem for you. But if you are a “morning person”, then the idea of night shifts can be a huge challenge.

But whether you’re a “night owl” or a “morning person”, one thing is for sure: if you work in the call center industry, chances are that you’ll be asked to work that dreaded call center night shift.

As we all know (and as a huge amount of research backs up), working during the night is a lot more demanding, and agents working call center night shifts need to make an extra effort to take care of their health and work-life balance, while at the same time staying productive at work.

But is there a way to make such a lifestyle more comfortable? Yes, there is! We compiled some handy tricks that will help you survive (and even thrive in) your call center night shift. Check them out and start to use them for your night shifts too!

 

Adjust your schedule to a night shift schedule

Ideally, humans sleep during the night and are active during the day. Our brain is biologically wired to tell us to sleep at night, so when you’re working a call center night shift, you’re basically fighting against your body’s natural rhythm.

If you’re regularly required to take night shifts, the best advice we can give you is to try and adjust your sleeping cycle to a night shift schedule by creating a reversed sleep schedule.

For example, if you’re taking the night shift from 10 pm to 6 am, then try and sleep between 8 am and 4 pm. By doing this, you will establish a regular sleep schedule and consolidate your sleep periods.

Unfortunately, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to sleep during the day. The rest of society is up and about, busy with their daily activities. But, if you do have to sleep during the day, try and set a sleep schedule to take advantage of society’s more conventional work hours (9 am – 5 pm), and try and avoid late afternoon/early evenings. As people usually finish work around 5 pm and start to do (often noisy) activities at home, these times are the most difficult to get some rest.

Although it’s not easy to establish a reversed sleep cycle, there are certain tips that will definitely help: use earplugs and try to make your room as dark as possible by closing window curtains and turning off the lights. And here’s our secret tip: try and get to sleep as soon as you can after you finish your night shift – once you step out of the call center, avoid natural light if you can, and wear sunglasses until you get home. Try it, you will be surprised how it helps!

 

Stick to your new call center night shift schedule

It’s definitely not easy setting up a reversed sleep schedule. So, once you managed to adjust your sleep cycle to match your night shifts, the next hard thing is to try and stick to it. Although it may be tempting to meet friends or get your hair done during the day, make sure you organize these activities for the late afternoon, after having had enough sleep.  

Don’t forget, when you work a night shift and schedule an appointment for the middle of the next day, it’s as if the appointment, in reality, is actually in the middle of the night. So, never commit to daylight activities even if people expect you to – remember, you’re living a reversed lifestyle now.

The more you stick to your reversed schedule, the easier it will be for your body to adjust to your night shift lifestyle. On the other hand, if you do not keep up with these patterns, you’ll easily find yourself suffering from fatigue or even insomnia.

 

Develop daily rituals

Developing daily rituals can help your body get used to a reversed lifestyle. Try and create bedtime rituals, for example watching TV or reading a book, to signal to your brain that it’s time to go to bed. Once you get home from your call center night shift, make sure to only have a light meal before going to bed.

Similarly, develop morning rituals, such as having breakfast and sipping a cup of coffee immediately you wake up. It is always recommended to eat within an hour of waking up, and that is also true even if your wake-up time happens to be 4 pm in the afternoon due to your night shift.

Try and turn these patterns into a regular basis, so your body can get more easily used to your reversed lifestyle. You’ll see it will make all the difference.

 

Use life hacks to stay awake and productive

As we all know, call centers are about targets, targets, targets. So, let’s face it: regardless of whether you’re working the night shift or traditional daytime hours, you’ll be required to stay effective at all times during work.

So, if you’re working the call center night shift and want to excel at your job (and we trust that you do), then you’ll definitely need some life hacks to help you stay productive. Add these to some of the call center life hacks we talked about in our previous article, and you’re good to go.  

If your employer allows it, try and talk to someone at least a few times during your night shift. Take advantage of the open office, and go and have a short chat with one of your colleagues as it will help both of you stay more awake for the rest of the night.

Although coffee may be tempting, a recent study found that drinking water can increase your productivity by 14%. So, instead of drinking that third coffee, focus on consuming more water. If you’re hydrated, then you’ll be able to better focus on staying productive, especially during the night hours.

Finally, when you’re feeling extra sleepy during your call center night shift, give your body a break. Some light exercise or a short walk around the office or outside will definitely keep you awake, and also help to refresh your mind.

 

Eat (and drink) healthily

It may sound a cliché but concentrating on a healthy diet is a must for agents working the call center night shift.

In particular, don’t forget that it’s not easy to access food during the night. As a result, you may end up dropping by a fast food restaurant to grab some junk food, or even worse, just try to survive the night without eating. Both are definitely bad ideas! Instead, always make sure to prepare your own food for your call center night shift even if it requires some planning ahead.

As for caffeine, as we already mentioned, don’t drink yet another cup of coffee or extra strong black tea a few hours before your shift is over. Always bear in mind that consuming caffeine during the second half of your shift reduces your chance of getting a relaxing sleep once you get home.  

 

Although most agents struggle with working night shifts, as you can see, there are some tricks that can help you survive those dark nights. Make sure to follow our pro tips, and you too will be able to start improving your performance during your call center night shift. And what are your tricks to make it through the night?