Phone customer service agents are very important to the success of many businesses.

They are often the primary point of contact for customers who have experienced problems or unsatisfactory service. Therefore, it is crucial that you hire employees who possess the skill set to be successful in this crucial position. In many parts of the country, there is a shortage of quality applicants for phone customer service positions. Approximately 64% of call centers throughout North America describe it as a “major struggle” or “somewhat of a challenge” to locate high quality employees to fill these positions. In addition, 37% of call centers experience high levels of competition with other nearby centers to attract and retain good phone customer service employees. In order to ensure ongoing success for your company, it is important to use the proper screening tactics to identify individuals who are the best fit for your phone customer service position. Ideally, someone who is a good fit will both possess the skill set necessary to succeed and be likely to remain at the position for an extended period of time.

Qualities of a Successful Phone Customer Service Agent

The most successful phone customer service agents typically possess the following qualities:

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure: Phone customer service agents often must deal with people who are looking to resolve a problem. Ideal candidates for the position must be able to remain calm and communicate clearly during tense interactions. If your phone customer service agent cannot calm down an angry customer and satisfactorily address the situation, you risk losing the customer for life.
  • Sales-oriented: Phone customer service agents are often presented with great up-sell opportunities. In order to capitalize on these moments, you will want to hire employees with a sales background.
  • Dependability: In order to ensure you can consistently accommodate high volumes of calls, it is important to hire dependable employees show up on time and rarely miss work on short-notice.

Tips for Employee Retention

The average annual turnover rate of full time phone customer service agents is over 30%, and the rate for part time agents is over 84%. In addition, the average cost to recruit, hire, and train new employees ranges from $2,600 to $15,000, depending on the nature of the phone customer service position. In order to avoid the lost revenue associated with employee turnover, it is crucial that you not only hire quality agents, but do everything possible to retain them. A recent study found that the majority of phone customer service agents who stay at their job long term do so because of the strong coworker relationships they establish. In order to cultivate these relationships among your employees, you should work to establish a strong work community. Encourage your employees to carpool, coordinate group lunches, facilitate peer-to-peer recognition, and seek out any other opportunities foster social bonding. Keep in mind that sometimes, the candidate with the highest level of education or experience may not be the most likely to stick around long term.

Focus your hiring on the skills and personality attributes necessary to cultivate quality employees who will remain at the position for years to come in order to maintain a successful team.