While it’s inexperience that often results in the weaknesses of a call center agent, experienced agents can usually find similar areas for improvement.
When we think about some of the typical weaknesses of a call center agent, they’re usually issues that come from a lack of experience. For example, your agents don’t know the product or service as well as they could, or they don’t have the confidence it takes to sound convincing. Another common weakness for newer agents is that they get sidetracked easily by questions or objections and lose their momentum.
Put some energy into these issues, and most of them are easy to solve. You can use a script to help keep conversations on track. Learning as much as possible about the customer experience will help new agents answer questions. And roleplay exercises and training can help new agents understand how to deal with objections.
When it comes to more experienced agents, however, those issues should be rare. They’ve dealt with objections and rejections, they’ve had to work hard to keep prospects on track during a call, and they understand how vital it is to have an in-depth knowledge of the product or service they’re working with.
Other issues, however, may present themselves with these more experienced agents. They creep in over time, subtly, and show up seemingly from nowhere. Or, in some cases, they’re weaknesses that were unrecognized in other environments. They may not be career-ending or even glaring, but we all have areas where we could improve.
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Watch for these weaknesses of a call center agent with (or without) experience so that you can help improve your team
1. Resistance to change. We all know that new and improved is not, in fact, always so new and improved. Even so, there are enough innovations and advances in most industries that it’s worth at least trying new things and giving them a chance. Whether that’s new technology or a different approach to customer service, one of the weaknesses of a call center agent with lots of experience is the attitude that what has always worked will always work. There may be some truth to that if you’re building a stone wall, but if you’re selling insurance? Let’s just say that if you’re still asking to speak to the man of the house, you may be limiting your audience.
2. Burnout. This is a big issue in any number of industries, and it has a few different causes, from overworking to a lack of job successes. This can be especially difficult for experienced agents who may be used to feeling like they’re at the top of their game. How do you handle burnout? It depends on the person, but a vacation can help, as can doing something different within the organization for a period of time. It’s also worth exploring new training and skill-building opportunities.
3. Declining customer attention. This is one of the weaknesses of a call center agent that can truly be detrimental. Experienced agents have heard it all, seen it all, been there, done that. There isn’t a customer question or objection they haven’t dealt with. Calls with customers and prospects become mechanical, and agents stop listening. They miss those almost imperceptible cues that customers offer when they’re unhappy. They don’t catch those little pieces of information that prospects provide on a cold call. Gradually, sales numbers slip, and customer service ratings sink. This can be a symptom of burnout, but it can also come from a lack of empathy for customers. As with burnout, it can be helpful to take some time away from the phone sales and learn a new skill or take a plain old vacation.
4. Fear of curiosity. Experienced call center agents want to be in control of situations. It’s understandable, since we so often propose scripts and other tactics to keep the conversation going in the direction we need. However, too great a need for control can limit the other important factor in successful sales: curiosity. Many call center agents assume curiosity is a detriment. They want to give the impression that they are in command and know more about the product or service than anyone. Again, this is understandable since it is a slight twist on confidence and knowledge. Unfortunately, crossing the line from confidence to stubbornness is one of the more subtle and damaging weaknesses of a call center agent. If you want to truly understand where a customer is coming from, you have to be curious. You need to wonder what is going on for them and how to solve their specific problem.
5. Not following up. Rookie and experienced call center agents alike are guilty of this from time to time. It’s also one of the most direct paths to lower sales and losing customers. Put simply, no one is going to call you back. It’s your job to ensure that you follow up with clients and prospects, whether through email or another phone call. If you want to set the meeting, seal the deal, retain customers, and have a robust customer service operation, it’s vital to follow up before and after a sale.
While these might be some of the weaknesses of a call center agent with experience, they’re also generally easy to overcome. It does take determination, but in order to boost sales and stem any potential declines, it’s important to take a hard look at where we stand.
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