It was a day before Christmas in 2015 when Inforati Philippines suffered uptime interruption. This site has been down inconsiderately for almost 14 hours a day for 3 weeks until January 10, 2016. Within that week, different problems happened: our Jetpack plugin & WordPress.org was disconnected, the email server was directed to the CPanel, and I, as an administrator cannot log in to the dashboard. With problems like these, who am I going to call? Not Ghostbusters but the customer support team of Arvixe (Inforati’s previous web hosting provider).
I contacted Arvixe’s support team through email but there was no response after a day so I contacted their support team via Live Chat. I contained my anger at first but they told me that their account management tool is under maintenance and other representatives said that it was my fault which in fact I have not updated my site for a while. They do not even send an email to their customers about the interruption and maintenance that they do. That is how terrible Arvixe’s Webhosting Service is.
After receiving that response, I realized how bad my decision was to host Inforati’s website in Arvixe. However, this blog post is not about that, this is about the skills that customer support teams like Arvixe’s should know to solve customer issues effectively.
So, if you are seeking a career in the call center or BPO industry, maybe you need to master these skills first:
1. Communication Skill. Communication is a broad topic, but call center agents should focus on verbal and written communication skills. Call center agents should be good at communication. They should know how to read, write and speak English fluently. If you want, you can check my previous blog post on improving your communication skills.
2. Data-Entry Skill. Because one of the common tasks of a call center agent is entering data, typing skill is an important skill that a call center agent should master. If you can type faster, you can handle more customers since call center agents answer issues in bulk. Check out my previous blog post on increasing your typing speed.
3. Calmness & Patience. Patience is indeed a virtue. Have you heard about the Citibank (Phone) Scandal in the Philippines? Listen to this audio clip that became popular in 2009.
4. Listening Skill. Listening is an important skill for call center agents. Listening to customers’ concerns is critical not just hear what they are talking about.
5. Problem-solving skills. We are all paid to become problem-solver. Whatever we do in life, we earn a living by solving problems. In a call center, problem-solving is a special skill that every call center agent has to master.
In the case of Arvixe’s customer support team, I just wished that they solved the issue fast and effectively but unfortunately, they were not able to make me feel like they value my business at all so I transferred to a better web hosting service.
6. Technical Skill. A skill related to handling and troubleshooting computers is a must for call center agents. This skill is very important, especially for Technical Support Representatives.
7. Professionalism. Customers may say bad things to call center agents but still, they should maintain professionalism.
8. Coping with Stress. Being a call center agent is a stressful job. Although there is no easy and stress-free job, I really salute how call center agents wing out stress. As a sense of advice, if you want to become a successful call center agent, it takes practice, practice, and practice to be able to handle a rude caller and not give up to stress.
After mastering these skills, you can add them to the Key Competencies section of your resume.
Just a note, there may be some skills special in some contact center jobs that are not on this list. If you are passionate about customer service, I encourage you read the job post carefully.
I wanted to become a doctor when I was in elementary. When I was younger, I was fascinated with doctors’ medical procedure and I was passionate in helping people in need of medical attention.
When I was in High school, as nurses got popular and known to earn higher salary than Filipino doctors, I dreamed that I will become a nurse. My motivation during that time was to earn high salary.
Then, during my Junior year in High school, I realized my strength in Mathematics when I became the Best in Math of our class. So, the changing dream continues, because of my newly discovered strength in Math, I, then wanted to become a Civil Engineer.
When I graduated as the Salutatorian and Best in Math of our batch, I was very happy to go to College because I thought I can pursue an Engineering course but unfortunately, even though I have a strong self-belief to pass the Entrance Examination, I realized that my parents cannot afford to let me study Engineering. My dream of becoming a civil engineer shattered. It was so horrible for me that I almost lose my sense of direction in life. Then, I thought to myself, if I can’t become a Civil Engineer what would I rather be? Looking back to my childhood years, I was exposed to our restaurant and Videoke business. I would witness my mother handle the cash, few employees and the overall operation of our business while my father would act as the bouncer (aka security guard) and stop our drunk customers from doing dangerous things. I have idolized my mother for that and I salute my father for his bravery. But because of my father’s drinking vices, our business turned bankrupt and my parents were not able to save any money for me and my siblings’ education. Looking back to their mistakes, I wanted to learn if I can do better than my parents, so I decided what I want to be… I want to become a business person.
That’s the main reason I took an Entrepreneurship course. Mind you, I worked my way because my parents don’t have money to send me to college and because I was so late in applying for any scholarships. The only scholarship I earned was Student Assistant scholarship in our university’s Main Library and few Dean’s List Scholarship (later in my college years). At our university’s Main Library, I used to read books and research on the internet during my vacant hours. I learned any topic that I find interesting and useful for my career. I researched how to format a PC, how to use the Windows OS command prompt, how to build a simple website, how to use Photoshop, GIMP, InDesign and Illustrator. I also researched the basics of programming and the basics of hypertext markup language (html) (you name it). I learned all those things not because I had to, but because I enjoy learning them. I even made my way to mastering a 45-60 wpm touch-typing speed. At our university’s main library, I discovered my strength and passion with computer while studying Entrepreneurship and getting acquainted with the world of Accounting (I also had a short-term interest on my Accounting subjects.) With my four years being a student assistant, I became a Dean’s Lister for 3 semesters and because of that, I saved money for myself. Also, to support my studies, sometimes I would tutor Algebra and Math of Investment to some students coming from different sections and courses. That’s how I discovered and improved my own strengths.
How to Discover Your Strengths
Right now you might be asking, “Why are you talking about yourself? What’s your point?” Well, my points are: First, I believe, that like me, your dreams and interests have also changed because of different reasons. And second, because I am going to use my strengths as an example in this article so that you can also discover your strengths. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Your strengths come in 3 forms: Gifts, Loves and Skills. I am going to define each one and later I am going to show you how to discover your hidden strengths.
These are the strengths that come naturally to you. The talents that came with you when you were born (You know, the so-called God-given talents). Sometimes, our gifts are naturally seen while we are young, but when we grow up, we forget that we have those gifts because we don’t practice them anymore.
Reflect back to the things that you can easily do when you were just a kid or when you were just a student. It would be helpful to ask a friend that knows you best to assess your gifts.
The strengths that you enjoy doing. These are your passions—your interests. These strengths can be visually seen on your hobbies. What do you usually love to do on your free time? If money were no object, what would you do for a career? Sometimes you can build a successful business with your hobbies, but of course, not all the time, there are lots of considerations in terms of a successful business. But right now, that’s not our focus, we’re going to discover your passions that are applicable to certain positions in the job market.
These are the strengths that you learned through education, training, classes, jobs you have held, extracurricular activities, etc. What are the skills that you acquired in your 4-year education and your current job?
Discovering Your Strengths Worksheets
Now, we’re going to dig deeper in your strengths. I am going to let you download and fill-out some worksheets. There is no right or wrong answer but you have to answer each worksheet as honestly as you can.
Discovering Your Gifts is composed of questions that you need to answer so that you will discover your inborn talents.
Discovering Your Gifts (360° Feedback) is the second part of Discovering Your Gifts. Ask someone who knows you best to fill this out. He/she will assess you in discovering your gifts. He/she could be your childhood friend, your sibling or one of your parents.
Discovering Your Loves is composed of questions that you need to answer so that you will discover your loves and passions.
Discovering Your Skills is designed so that you will discover the skills that you have acquired throughout your career.
Based on my parents’ restaurant business where I was exposed to as a child, I decided to study Entrepreneurship and business.
Discover Your Strengths. Each worksheet has a Results section where you need to tally your top strengths, go and write your top recurring strengths. Then, after that, transfer each result in the Discover Your Strengths Worksheet. You will uncover your top strengths by tallying the most recurring strengths in the My Top Strengths section. Lastly, you need to discover 3-5 careers that best relate to your strengths.
In my case, I have chosen a career in resume writing, blogging and sales. As a resume writer, I use my graphic design skills in each resume that I write (whichever is best for the client). I have also used my computer skills and fast typing speed in writing resumes (especially when clients are rushing). Being a resume writer also requires excellent writing skills that is why even though I don’t have a natural talent in writing, I am improving my writing skills by reading books and taking online courses.
As a blogger, I use my teaching skills in teaching my readers how to create targeted resumes.
And as a salesman, I use my sales skills and my introvert nature to listen to my clients rather than push products.
Keep learning new things and absorb new knowledge everyday. The advice that says “Do what you love and money will follow” is not totally correct because love alone is not enough to a guaranteed success. So, correcting that advice, “Do what you love and it’s more likely that money will follow… but you still need talent.”