Contact Center Transformation Featured Article
Training in 'Soft Skills' Key to Contact Center Transformation
February 07, 2013
By Rich Steeves, TMCnet Web Editor
Transforming a contact center into a hub of customer interaction is about more than just focusing on technology. Sure, it is important to have a robust and easy-to-use IVR system, and it is essential to have the ability to deal with clients using mobile and social channels. But beneath all of the technology, contact centers are still about people, and making sure that call center agents are equipped with proper customer service skills is just as key as having the right technology solutions. There are many skills the companies tend to forget when training call center agents. Among these are soft skills.
Soft skills are traits like common sense, empathy and positivity as well as interpersonal communications. Most call center training programs consist of building knowledge and tend to ignore these equally important traits. While managers might believe it is harder to train agents to be empathetic than knowledgeable, there are ways to incorporate these traits into training programs, according to Peggy Carlaw from Impact Learning.
The first step in building soft skills training is the same as the first step required to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. But it’s not sufficient to have employees practice with quizzes or articles. They must have a chance to interact with others and learn how to respond to different situations. These practice sessions can come online – responding via e-mail or chat to a scenario – or in person.
Holding classes to practice listening and empathy is a good idea. Fill these sessions with role-plays and situational scenarios and allow agents to get comfortable with how to treat customers. But practicing is one thing. It is also vital to monitor agents and see if they are following through with these skills in actual interactions with customers. Record calls and give feedback – both positive and negative – to help agents realize what works for them.
Edited by Jamie Epstein
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