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 webhosting provider).
I contacted Arvixe’s support team through email but there was no response after one 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 cannot control my anger anymore and said bad things against their customer support. You know that kind of anger that you want to punch someone in the face so hard. However, this blog post is not about that, this is about the skills that customer support teams like Arvixe’s should master to solve problems effectively.
Apart from that, another reason why I wrote this blog post is the fact that 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 dominates most task known to business process outsourcing or BPO with 600,000 contact center workers. And based on the quick facts of Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), 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 for a career in the call center industry, maybe you need to master these skills first:
1. Communication Skill. Communication is a broad topic, but I know that call center agents should focus on verbal and written communication skills. Call center agents should be good (if not excellent) in communication. They should know how to read, write and speak English fluently since English is considered as the universal language. If you want, you can check my previous blog post on improving your communication skills.
Based on the service that I received from Arvixe, I was not totally convinced that all of their customer service representatives are good in English. Some of them has to improve their written English skill.
2. Data-Entry Skill. Because one of the natures of call center 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 the Citibank (Phone) Scandal in the Philippines? Listen to this audio clip that became popular in 2009.
What do you think? For me, I can say that it was a terrible experience for a call center agent. I would have lost my temper and burst out hearing those bad words. If the person who handled that call was not calm and patient enough, he would have put the phone down earlier or he would have talked back in the same (rude) way.
4. Listening Skill. Listening is an important skill for call center agents. It matters to listen to customers’ concern not just hear what they are talking about.
5. Problem-solving Skill. We are all paid to become a problem-solver. Whatever we do in life, we earn a living by solving problems. In 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 my problem fast and effectively but unfortunately, they did not so I transferred to a better webhosting 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 curse to or talk 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 I know that there is no easy and stress-free job, I really salute how call center agents wing out their stress. As a sense of advice, if you want to become a successful call center agent, I believe it takes practice, practice and practice to be able to handle a rude caller and not give up to stress.
These are the skills that I was able to brainstorm in the height of Inforati’s webhosting problem. 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 in this list. If you are really passionate into customer service, I encourage you to do more research.
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