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.
Apart from that, another reason why I wrote this blog post is the fact that the Philippines is the call-center capital of the world according to Los Angeles Times. Yes, the Philippines has overtaken India’s crown. Filipino college graduates and undergraduates now dominate most tasks known to business process outsourcing or BPO with 600,000 contact center workers. And based on the quick facts of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), the Philippines is number one in voice, customer care, tech, and financial service outsourcing.
Top Skills Needed by Call Center Agents
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.