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You Had Me at Hello: Soft Skills versus Hard Skills in the Call Center

by Sarah Wilson - June 22, 2011

You Had Me at Hello:
Soft Skills versus Hard Skills in the Call Center by Sarah Wilson

  In the call center environment, hard skills are easily enforced, measured and monitored without hesitation. With these skills, there is a clear distinction between right and wrong. For this reason, hard skills are often used as a measurement of an agent’s success. Soft skills, however, prove to be more elusive and indefinable. Soft skills involve the ability to communicate, motivate, listen, solve problems and manage stressful situations. What many contact centers fail to recognize is that encompassing a blend of these skills creates a recipe for success. One skill set without the other is ineffective and unproductive. Failing to address the significance of both skills, will quickly lead to low morale, frustrated employees, and failure to meet customer expectations.
Hard skills can only help an agent get so far with the caller. To effectively ease and resolve the caller’s concern, an agent needs to possess effectual communication, listening and conversational skills. Something as simple as answering the call with a friendly demeanor, “Hello, thanks for calling ______”, can set the tone for a positive call experience. An agent may say all of the right things and follow all of the correct procedures, but without the soft skills to communicate with the caller, the agent will quickly fall short.
Investing in equal training time and tools for soft and hard skills will provide agents with the right talent to succeed in their role. Simple role play exercises or call reviews can help agents see where, and if, they fall short in soft skill techniques. While soft skills are not as definable and trainable as hard skills, the impact of training and employing a team of individuals who possess these skills, will undeniably create an environment that will sustain long-term success for agents, as well as clients.
Bio: Sarah Wilson is a marketing communication specialist for Answer Center America, a leading provider of inbound, outbound and answering solutions.

Based in Chicago, Ill., Answer Center America, Inc. is an experienced partner in providing seamless call center and answering service solutions. Founded in 1995 by Janet Livingston, ACA has proven itself as an industry leader through cutting-edge technology, unwavering customer service, and customized services. For additional information, please visit www.goacanow.com or call 1-800-270-7030.

 
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