Given the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a need for many positions to go remote in 2020. Call center agents are no exception to that rule.
The expansion of business access to call center software has made staffing companies with remote call center agents affordable, to the point where it’s no surprise that there are over 19,000 U.S.-based customer service representative jobs currently listed on Indeed.com alone. By contrast, there are only about 7,000 virtual assistant positions available on the same site (both searches verified April 14, 2020). For people looking for full-time remote work, call centers are a good bet.
But what makes for an excellent remote company representative beyond a reliable internet connection that rates highly on a speed test tool and a willingness to pick up the phone? Which call center agent skills matter most in 2020? Here’s a look into the hiring process.
Remote Call Center Agent Skills
Even after social distancing measures ease up around the world, many business and labor experts expect that remote work is here to stay. To get a job as a call center agent in 2020 and beyond, you’ll have to emphasize both your strong communication skills and your ability to work well outside of a traditional office setting.
For example, remote workers who aren’t under a manager’s watchful eye—or surrounded by helpful teammates—have to be able to work independently. That need for independent doers has not been as critical a call center agent skill until remote work became the norm.
Keep reading to see which productivity and soft skills you should highlight (or consider developing) when drafting or updating your remote call center agent resume.
To figure out what employers were looking for to fill remote call center roles, we looked through call center agent job descriptions on several popular job boards.
The skills below are listed in order of how often they appeared in job descriptions.
1. Stellar Verbal Communication
Strong verbal communication skills were mentioned in nearly every call center operator job description. The emphasis on oral communication probably isn’t a huge surprise when you’re applying for a job that primarily requires talking to customers on the phone all day.
If you’re applying for a contact center agent job, you should be able to communicate clearly and succinctly, especially when it comes to solving customer issues. Highlighting previous experiences in customer service on your resume will help you stand out.
And if you get the chance to do a phone interview, you’ll definitely want to work on your phone presence beforehand so you’ll be sure to make a good impression. Show that you’re good at active listening and you’ll convince them you’re an engaging presence on the phone with a clear positive attitude.
2. Comfort with Customer databases and CRMs
As a call center representative, you’ll likely be using various types of business software. Most businesses will need their agents to be able to enter and pull information from customer databases or customer relationship management (CRM) systems like Salesforce, Freshdesk, and Zoho CRM.
Name-drop relevant business software you have experience working with, especially any customer databases, CRM software, or call center tools. Familiarity with a company’s systems (and comparable tools) will help you stand out as an applicant since you’ll be easier to onboard and train.
3. Ability to Work Independently
Teleworking requires tremendous self-discipline. On the one hand, there’s no boss looking over your shoulder and monitoring your every move. But you also lack other colleagues and teammates working nearby. Co-workers can motivate you to get things done and serve as much-needed workplace distractions.
When you’re in charge of managing your own workspace, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’re highly self-motivated. You’ll need to be an independent problem-solver who can move forward on projects without requiring lots of babysitting.
Be sure to mention any experience you have in leadership positions or times when your decision-making skills really shined to show that you can be your own mini-manager in your home office. Mentioning experience with remote collaboration software, such as Asana, Trello, or Airtable, is one way you can demonstrate this skill. Using these types of tools shows you have experience managing and organizing projects and communicating progress with a team.
4. Dedication to Customer Satisfaction
Keeping customer experience in mind is another call center agent skill. When your day-to-day revolves around helping customers, you’ll need to highlight the fact that assisting others is important to you.
Being dedicated to customer satisfaction means a few things for call centers:
- Treating customers with patience and respect when you communicate with them, whether it’s over the phone or via email.
- Doing everything you can when it comes to problem-solving.
- Going above and beyond whenever possible to make a customer happy, prevent future issues, and improve a customer’s impression of the company you work for.
If you’ve worked in the frontlines of service or retail, you’ll likely have plenty of examples of how you’ve helped happy customers. But even if you haven’t worked closely with customers before, you probably have an example of helping someone and making them happy. Overall, be sure to emphasize any experience you have in people-facing roles where you satisfied customers’ needs with your work and efforts.
5. Strong Writing Skills
As the job title implies, call center agents spend a lot of time on the phone with customers. However, many employers also require new agents to understand have studied a beginner’s guide to live chat or the basics of email.
According to research compiled by SuperOffice evaluating the importance of live chat in 2020, live chat experiences yield higher customer satisfaction rates than phone calls or emails, yet only 9% of websites currently use live chat for customer service. However, the promising results of live chat—along with increasing customer expectations for the availability of customer support agents over live chat—means it’s very likely you’ll be communicating with customers through multiple channels, including phone, email, and chat.
You’ll have to prove that you know what to write and say for live chat vs phone support to secure your call center agent position. Your resume and cover letter are your best opportunities to communicate those skills to a hiring manager. Make sure both documents are easy to read and free of typos.
Pro tip: ask someone to read over them before you send in your application.
6. Ability to Multitask
While you should always prioritize the call you’re on, multitasking is a must for call center agents. For example, solving a customer’s problem might involve looking up product information, locating an appropriate help desk article, or rooting through transaction records.
As such, you’ll need to show that you can focus on a task at hand while also being able to do minor tasks in the background. Highlighting any experience you have working in a fast-paced environment where you have to juggle lots of projects at once will help your resume stand out.
While customer support agents deal mostly with inbound calls from customers, being able to jump over to outbound calls to follow-up with customers is important.
7. Strong Team Collaboration Experience
Although it might seem like the ability to work alone is the most important part of any remote position, that’s not exactly true.
Working remotely often means communicating more regularly with your teammates and colleagues. While no one is around to oversee all your work, remote positions also mean that no one is around to see when you might need assistance.
To be a successful call center agent, you’ll still need to be able to work well with team members. You’ll need to be able to talk with your manager about your work. And you’ll need to be able to talk to your teammates when you need help or be there for them if they need something from you. A familiarity with team collaboration software helps.
In your cover letter or resume, be sure to mention any time that you collaborated with others to finish a project or worked well in a team environment. Striking the balance between being able to work well alone while still playing well with others is a must for call center agents working remotely.
4 Call Center Agent Skills to Mention in a Cover Letter
In analyzing call center agent job descriptions, we came across a few characteristics that aren’t “call center agent skills,” per se. However, they were listed as requirements or “nice to haves” frequently enough that they are worth mentioning.
1. Ability to Work on a Flexible Schedule
Call centers often serve customers in multiple time zones. Inbound calls can fluctuate based on the season, time of day, or a one-off event, such as a company offering a discount or an issue discovered with a product.
To better serve customers when they need assistance, many call centers request that their agents be willing to work on a flexible schedule. If you’re open to working during non-standard hours or on weekends, be sure to mention your availability in your application.
2. Proficiency in Multiple Languages
If you can help a call center serve a multilingual customer base, you’ll be a standout applicant. Many call centers mention bilingual skills as “nice to have.” But you can bet your resume will get a second look if you can communicate effectively in another language as a growing number of even small enterprises are looking to expand their business globally.
Spanish was the language in demand in most of the call center job descriptions we examined. However, large swaths of the U.S. population also speak Chinese, Tagalog, German, and French. Proficiency in any of these languages could be a point in your favor when applying for a job in a call center.
3. Access to a Home Office
Working remotely requires a lot of focus and self-discipline. If you have a home office setup, be sure to mention it in your cover letter or when answering interview questions. A quiet space with no background noise or distractions is especially important for call center agents who need to make customer interactions seem like they have an agent’s full attention.
Plus, when employers know you have a dedicated workspace in your home, they’ll be more likely to take you seriously as a remote call center agent who can work with little to no supervision.
4. Experience Working Remotely
Experience with remote work is a skill we’ve all been able to brush up on in 2020. However, if you’ve operated remotely for an extended period of time, you should let a potential employer know. Familiarize yourself with the benefits of remote work if you’re worried about what it means for you.
Remote work requires a lot of self-discipline, and it can be hard for people who have only worked in a traditional office setting to get used to. So if you’re a pro at working from home, be sure to highlight that experience.
Do You Have the Call Center Agent Skills to Get Started as a Remote Call Center Agent?
While we think we’ve done a pretty good job highlighting the top in-demand call center agent skills, there are many effective communication skills we didn’t name that could still serve you well in a call center. Overall, emphasizing your desire to help others, your ability to work independently, and your passion for producing quality work will look good on any call center agent application.
And don’t forget that pro tip: If you can, have someone read over your resume and cover letter before sending them in.
Best of luck in your job search! We’re crossing our fingers for you.
In the meantime, check out the latest trends in call center automation to stay up-to-date on the call center industry. Below are a few more posts that might help you out in your remote call center agent job.