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Call Center Software - Agents
Like it or not, the role of the call center agent is changing rapidly. Several years ago, call center agents were involved with and responsible for just one particular process or product. Call center agents must be multi-talented and multi-task oriented to perform adequately in todays business environment, because they will be called upon to perform a variety of functions from problem solving, to sales, to conflict resolution.

The entry of self-service solutions into the call center market has changed the role of the call center and of agents quite drastically. Customers have the option of resolving many questions by themselves online and many of them prefer to resolve their issues this way. Routine questions that can be handled by self-help services generally now can be answered through non-agent assisted means. For agents, however, this has some significant ramifications.

The questions that do come to an agent are no longer entry-level questions, or problems that can be easily solved by an online solution. Instead, they tend to be more challenging issues, which means that agents not only have to be more sophisticated, but more aware of the companys policies and workings than ever before. Coupled with the increasing complexity of calls, there is also a push for agents to handle issues on a first-call basis rather then making a referral or posing a solution that might necessitate a call-back. Entry-leel agents may, therefore, have difficulty trying to effectively answer questions that are anything but entry level, all the while juggling email and chat questions as well.

Agents are also being asked to sell during the course of service calls. If the opportunity arises for the agent to make a sales pitch for a new product or an add-on accessory, many companies expect just that. Some organizations are choosing to hire sales skills as a first priority, and teach the technical skills later. In any case, the emphasis has to be on teaching representatives, both newly hired and veteran agents, the additional skills they need to handle increasingly complex operations.

In fact, first call resolution and incremental revenue building are becoming the focus of activities in many modern call centers and that is a trend that is not likely to change in the next couple of years. Thus, even more emphasis must fall on training for multi-tasking.

Agents who are hired to solve problems must have access to, and training on, the best tools available for diagnosing customer problems across a wide range of projects. They will need to have a compensation system that rewards them for accurately addressing issues on first contact, not just for minimizing escalations. And, in order to be able to solve customer problems in the most satisfactory way possible, they will need to have a strong knowledge of the products they are working with.

On the other hand, agents who are hired primarily to sell, must also have access to and training and tools that allow them to cross sell and upsell when opportunities arise in which customers may be open to these ideas. They need to be evaluated on and rewarded for their sales successes. Agents who are expected to participate in a selling component of their jobs will likely need to have some sales experience and successes in their work background.

There is no doubt that the call center world is becoming more complex almost daily and that agents are being expected to branch out in new directions. Service and sales are becoming intertwined processes in call centers and agents must be trained to handle both with the expertise necessary to put customers at ease and make them feel satisfied with the results of their calls.

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