What Does it Take to be a Call center agent + 6 main duties
It may seem like automation is going to put call center agents out of the job. But according to HubSpot, over 65% of customers of all ages still prefer phones to communicate with businesses. Maybe that’s why there’s such a high demand for call center agent roles.
This blog takes a detailed look at a call center agent job description. We explain what it really takes to work in a call center, which qualification and skills it requires and what exactly are call center agents’ duties.
What Do Call Center Agents Do
A call center agent is either someone who assists customers with their issues via various communication channels or someone who contacts leads with the intention to offer her or his company’s services.
Therefore, there are two types of calls that call center agent make:
Inbound calls are those calls that customers make in order to ask for assistance. Call center agents answer their questions, solve issues, assist with orders, and more. In short, agents make sure that any customer’s inquiry is resolved or is in the process of being resolved.
Generally, this term refers to call center agents contacting customers with the intention to offer a product or service. Some may know it as cold calling. Though, sales are not the only purpose of outbound calls. Agents can also follow up with clients to make sure all their past issues were successfully handled and if not, offer further assistance.
6 Duties and Responsibilities of Call Center Agents
Besides answering and resolving customers’ inquiries via phone or other channels, call center agents have other crucial duties. Here are 6 of the most important examples of inbound, outbound and in-house responsibilities.
#1 Processing Payments and Orders → Inbound
This is perhaps the most essential part of call center agents’ duties. Especially in the e-commerce sector. It requires a detailed knowledge of a company and its products or services.
What precisely does this duty involve? For example, agents can assist customers with issues regarding their purchase. There may be a problem with payments, a shipping issue, an order exchange, cancellation, return or refund. Agents can also make purchases for customers.
#2 Dealing With Complaints → Inbound
Several of the duties of call center agents aren’t necessarily pleasant, including dealing with unhappy customers. Handling complaints is something agents’ cannot avoid. Yet, there are few steps for how to turn even these situations into an opportunity to improve communication skills.
This brief guide will help to handle even the most difficult customer:
- Dive deep into knowledge of people’s behavior: first, an agent needs to identify the type of customers they’re speaking with. Knowing how to treat a person based on their behavioral pattern makes it much easier to calm her/him down.
- Come up with the right questions: This step helps to identify the issue’s true nature. It makes the problem-solving process faster.
- Be human: Betting on emotional intelligence and empathy allows agents to sound humble, which results in customers feeling respected.
- Provide a clear solution: Angry customers aren’t interested in excuses and overly vague statements. Providing an effective, clear solution is the best way to calm them down.
#3 Follow-up Calls → Outbound
In an ideal world, agents would resolve each inquiry during the first call and companies’ first-call resolution would skyrocket. Unfortunately, that’s not realistic. Especially not for SaaS companies that are often dealing with complicated technological issues.
These technical inquiries often require extensive troubleshooting or escalation. That’s why call center agents often have to make follow-up calls to inform customers about further steps or check if the previous solution worked. And, of course, follow-up calls can also address many other inquiries, such as order status updates, refund updates, and more.
#4 Selling, Upselling and Cross-selling → Outbound
Outbound reps search for sales opportunities based on available data and offer the company service/product through cold calling.
They may also inform the customers of opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. In other words, agents can offer additional services of greater value or motivate customers to buy a related/complementary service. This can pay off pretty well. Customer behavior statistics show that engaged customers purchase 90% more frequently, spend 60% more money, and are 5 times more likely to become long-term clients.
Pro tip: Using proper software for call center teams makes sales campaigns much more effective. Productivity tools like Smart, Power, or Predictive dialers automate outbound calls and let agents focus on what matters – closing deals.
#5 Market Research → Outbound
Market research is an important call center agent duty. It can be for sales purposes, as well as for the benefit of the new product development process and the promotion of the product. Thanks to market research, businesses better understand their current and potential customers’ behavior. Market research helps companies to make educated decisions based on what people want, how they act or what they appreciate in competitors’ products.
#6 Updating Databases → On-side
An ability to work with CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems is an essential duty of a call center agent. After each interaction, agents are responsible for logging and storing customer data for future reference, such as contact information, purchase history, shipping and billing preferences, history of interactions, etc.
Pro tip: Database maintenance is another call center process that can be automated. Integrating CRMs with call center software allows for data to be automatically transferred and stored in both systems. That eliminates boring, robotic tasks and once again, leaves more time for assisting or selling.
#6 Reporting Roadblocks and Issues → On-side
Call center agents are in direct contact with customers, so, they are more likely than others to notice patterns in recurring issues and report these to management. Thanks to this, businesses can identify problems and fix them before they cause any damage.
How To Fix Broken Customer Service Team
Skills and Qualifications of Call Center Agents
Customers’ success leads to a successful call center agent and that leads to a successful business. Research shows that customers are 5 times more likely to churn if a source of their dissatisfaction is service-related than if it’s product-related.
So, what qualifications and skills should an ideal call center agent have?
Here are a few must-haves and nice-to-haves listed in a majority of call center agent job descriptions:
Qualification – must-have
Most of the time, the required education is a high school diploma. It’s possible to get in without it, but the chances are lower. If the role is in a finance industry, employers can also ask for a state exam.
Qualification – nice-to-have
In most cases, a university diploma is not required. Yet, in order for agents to reach higher positions, a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in communications, business management or related fields is highly valued.
Skills – must-have
Top-class communication skills
According to a LinkedIn Talent Solutions report, 90% of U.S. talent professionals agree that soft skills often matter more than hard skills. That’s why communication skills rank at top of our list. Great agents must know how to listen, understand the issue, and clearly communicate the solution.
Some may ask why agents need to be good writers. Many companies offer multi-channel support operated by real people. It means that an agent can be assigned to handle chat or email. Of course, the agent doesn’t have to be a bestselling author. It’s enough to write clearly and with proper grammar.
Agents can answer as many as 50 calls per day on average. That’s why they have to be effective problem solvers. They must quickly find the root of an issue and come up with the most appropriate solution. Thus, a call center agent has to be both an analytical genius and a creative soul all at once.
Eye for detail
According to research from 2020, having to repeat themselves was the main frustration trigger for 75% of UK customers. Therefore, attention to detail can make or break a good relationship between business and customer.
We have good news, though. Nowadays, agents can rely on call center features, such as a real-time customer card that displays all previous customer interactions in real time.
Information about previous interactions is not only a relationship booster but also a great way to show how much businesses care about their customers.
Here’s an example of how to use such knowledge in a real conversation:
“Last time we were calling, you also reported an issue with billing. Is that all right now?”
“I noticed that your company started to expand abroad. As you may soon have a global presence, you can benefit from our international numbers tool. Are you interested in hearing more?”
A job in a call center can be chaotic from time to time. It’s very important that agents can organize their duties, make a detailed to-do list and know how to multitask in order to meet quotas.
A team player attitude
It makes sense to assume that a call center job is more about the synergy between customers than synergy between team members. It’s not really the case. Call center agents have to work smoothly as a team in order to complement each other’s duties. For example, each agent must know exactly where to route a specific call. It’s also good to be proactive and make notes of each customer interaction, in case another agent will communicate with the same person.
Skills – nice-to-have
Previous experience with a call center agent role
It sounds like something all agents should have. Although it does give the applicant a competitive edge, many times it’s actually not a requirement.
A tech-savvy spirit
Not every agent has to be a certified computer scientist. It’s often enough to be able to handle basic telephony and CRM software, although this may not apply to roles concerning heavily technical products or services.
An ability to speak several languages
Not necessarily a requirement, but a great advantage. Multinational businesses need multilingual customer service. Having call center agents that speak more than one language is a great advantage.
A USEFUL TIP
According to GetVoIP, Spanish is the industry’s most-demanded language.
How to Be a Great Call Center Agent → Brief guide
We talked quite a bit about call center agent duties, responsibilities, qualifications and skills. But a great call center agent needs more than just the right knowledge. There are few important personality traits to note.
Shyness can hint at a lack of experience. In the eyes of customers, a shy agent loses credibility. In contrast, if agents project confidence, customers feel like they are talking to a real expert. It makes them more likely to get on board with a solution. Also, no one buys anything from agents who don’t believe in what they’re selling.
Agents also need to be confident in their performance. If a good conversion rate for an outbound campaign is around 2 to 10%, logically, 90 to 98% of sales attempts will fail. First – it shouldn’t break the agents’ spirit. Second – it shouldn’t prevent them from trying again.
Motivation by customer success
Having a true drive to move others forward is important for call center agents. They should be motivated by customers’ success and keep clients’ experience and well-being in mind at all times. This requires a high level of patience, determination and empathy.
Agents who do a bare minimum don’t get too far. Consequently, they don’t bring enough profit to the business. Going the extra mile makes a huge difference. People like gestures, no matter how small. They will appreciate that someone assisted them more than he/she had to. For example, agents can offer a voucher as compensation, free shipping if there’s a problem with delivery, and more.
Stable performance under pressure
There’s a lot of pressure in call centers, no doubt about that. Agents who cannot take it often end up experiencing burnout, hating their job. That’s why great call center agents don’t get easily frustrated. It’s important that they know how to separate personal feelings from professional behavior and stay cool in heated discussions.
3 bonus tips to boost performance:
Make it personal → It’s important that customers feel like they are talking to a human being, not a machine. Each interaction should start with an introduction from both sides. That’s a great way to kickstart a nice, friendly chat. Throughout the conversation, agents should refer to the customers by their names.
Keep things light and breezy → No matter what happens, at the end of the day, agents should enjoy their job. Having fun talking to customers and building strong connections essential for a well performing agent.
Take a break → Physical and mental breaks are very important. The whole day on the phone lines can be a real energy drainer. Without breaks, agents never switch off. A nice walk or a short break to focus on themselves can do wonders for their performance.
A Brief Overview of Call Center Manager Role
All call center agents have potential to grow if they perform exceptionally well. Let’s go through the basics of what a managerial position in a call center looks like.
What are call center managers dealing with and what makes them great?
What are the duties and responsibilities of call center managers
The duties of all center managers don’t differ much from other managerial positions.
Here is a list of the most crucial ones:
- Building teams out of the most qualified agents
- Onboarding and training of new hires
- Leading team meetings
- Work towards improving customer satisfaction
- Supporting a productive environment and smooth processes
- Resolving potential issues
- Managing shifts based on availability and compatibility
- Analyzing data and providing reports to upper management
- Overseeing, evaluating, and boosting the performance of their agents.
How can you evaluate your agents’ performance in the most effective way possible?
Follow these six steps:
What makes a great Call Center Manager?
Having the title isn’t enough. An exceptional call center manager needs a specific set of abilities.
- Extraordinary communication skills
- High-level people skills
- Detailed company and product/service knowledge
- Technical knowledge of all system the call center uses
- Great logical and logistical thinking
- Understanding of how to measure call center performance
- Project management skills
How Much Money Does a Call Center Representative Make
Of course, there’s no unified answer. We put together a table with average base salaries from 16 countries worldwide.
|$ 42,279 (USD)/yr||€ 41,565 (EUR)/yr||$ 42,279 (USD)/yr|
|$ 48,858 (CAD)/yr||€ 37,122 (EUR)/yr||$ 37,755 (USD)/yr|
|£ 26,447 (GBP)/yr||€ 31,376 (EUR)/yr||$ 31,915 (USD)/yr|
|€ 37,701 (EUR)/yr||€ 37,701 € (EUR)/yr||$ 38,356 (USD)/yr|
|€ 28,278 (EUR)/yr||€ 28,278 (EUR)/yr||$ 28,769 (USD)/yr|
|€ 23,482 (EUR)/yr||€ 23,482 (EUR)/yr||$ 23,890 (USD)/yr|
|€ 19,246 € (EUR)/yr||€ 19,246 € (EUR)/yr||$ 19,580 (USD)/yr|
|€ 25,619 € (EUR)/yr||€ 25,619 € (EUR)/yr||$ 26,064 (USD)/yr|
|€ 34,981 (EUR)/yr||€ 34,981 (EUR)/yr||$ 35,588 (USD)/yr|
|€ 14,858 € (EUR)/yr||€ 14,858 € (EUR)/yr||$ 15,116 (USD)/yr|
|352,437 kr (SEK)/yr||€ 33,974 (EUR)/yr||$ 34,580 (USD)/yr|
|₱ 248,456 (PHP)/yr||€ 4,392 (EUR)/yr||$ 4,469 (USD)/yr|
|₹ 3,33,972 (INR)/yr||€ 4,129 (EUR)/yr||$ 4,205 (USD)/yr|
|R$ 46,960 (BRL)/yr||€ 8,898 (EUR)/yr||$ 9,064 (USD)/yr|
|$ 21,672.268 (COP)/yr||€ 4,928 (EUR)/yr||$ 5,021 (USD)/yr|
|$ 152,646 (MXN)/yr||€ 7,351 (EUR)/yr||$ 7,487 (USD)/yr|
To check other states, visit this website.
Call Center Job Description Example
To finish this blog on a practical note, we are attaching our very own example of a call center agent job ad:
Call center agent
We are searching for a proactive and responsible colleague who likes to socialize and isn’t afraid to pick up the phone. Our new call center agent should be a confident communicator driven by customer success. He or she should be resilient. Last but not least, our ideal candidate shouldn’t be discouraged by a few drawbacks and occasional pressure.
But most of all, we seek a friendly person who can make each customer smile.
Your will be responsible for:
- Answering customers’ questions and providing help with their inquiries
- Following up with customers and making sure all issues are resolved
- Dealing with complaints
- Processing payments and orders
- Conducting occasional market research
- Reporting potential service/product bottlenecks to management
You should have:
- Top-class verbal communication skills
- Good writing skills
- Talent for solving problems
- An eye for detail
- Great time management abilities
- Team spirit
It’s good if you have:
- Previous experience with working in call center
- Experience with calling software and CRM systems
- An ability to speak more languages – Spanish is a big advantage
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Bachelor in communication, business, management or related field is preferred
We offer a competitive salary and great benefits which we’ll happily disclose during the first interview.
If you like what you’ve just read, please send your resume and cover letter in English to www.XY.com.
We are looking forward to speaking with you!
What did you find in this article?
What is a “call center job description” + example
It is a short summary of what the desired agent should have and do. It can look like this: “We are looking for a Call Center Representative that will be the liaison between our company and its current and potential customers. The successful candidate will be able to accept ownership for effectively solving customer issues, complaints, and inquiries; keeping customer satisfaction at the core of every decision and behavior.”
What are the duties of a call center representative?
Common duties and responsibilities include: answering inbound calls, evaluating problems and complaints of the callers, providing proper solutions, responding to the needs of customers, selling and giving information on the products or services, processing orders, forms, and applications, routing calls to other team members, identify any issues customers may have, report on customer feedback, complete call logs, and reports, manage & update customer databases, boost customer loyalty, and more.
What does a call center representative do?
A call center representative handles inbound and/or outbound customer calls for a company. He/She takes care of account inquiries, customer complaints, or support issues. The representative also provides omnichannel support (phone, email, live chat, CRM software, or social media), coordinates with other teams and departments, and troubleshoots customer problems.
What are the job titles in a call center?
Some of the common job titles used in call center are: Customer Service Representative, Call Center Representative or Agent, Chief Customer Officer, Call Center Manager, Telephone Sales Representative.
How to become a good call center agent?
Succesfull call center agent should work on these skills:
effective and clear communication, if you need a communication plan, check out this video
able to manage his emotions
time and organizational management
proactivity and productivity