Since Minreeva is launching it's Free Contact Center Training Webinars, I find that I might as well post how contact center agents are rated - based on their communication skills. This is the scorecard that my previous team and I formulated to gauge aspiring hires during interviews.
Author's note: (I've written this post sometime October 2011 in my other blog. I'm now transferring all my articles here.)
Do you have what it takes to be a contact center agent? Here is a generic communication competency list for aspiring call center agents. I will try to be very specific with the skillsets as much as possible, so that you can gauge yourself better. If you have the minumum skill level and competencies mentioned below, then definitely, this job; and this industry is for you!
Contact Center Agent Speaking Competencies:
Above Average English Communication Skills (Intermediate to Upper Intermediate English Speaker)
1. Grammar and Sentence Construction:
Grammatical and sentence construction slips are acceptable as long as you are "conciously incompetent" about the mistake and you should have the ability to correct yourself. You must have the ability to demonstrate correct usage of nouns, articles, prepositions, tenses, and modals.
You should possess a neutral accent with only an average of one mispronounced word/syllable or word/syllable stress per sentence. You should be able to pronunce the twelve different American vowel sounds correctly.
3. Voice Clarity, Pitch, Articulation, Clarity, and Pronunciation:
You should not to exceed two pronunciation defects. You should be able to pronunce the 'hard T' versus the 'TH'; and you should have the ability to demonstrate the difference between the spoken "f' and "p" / "b" and "v" sounds. You should be able to speak clearly and intelligibly regardless of your voice quality. If mistakes in pronunciation do happen, you should demonstrate the ability to correct yourself.
4. Orally expresses thoughts in an organized manner and demonstrates fluency in the language:
You should be able to display fluency in conversational English. This is demonstrated by smooth transition between words and phrases; with minimal unnecessary pauses. There should also be minimal fillers like "umms" or "ahhs;" and your sentence construction should not sound 'choppy.'
In speaking, you should consistently be composed, but there might be an apparent lack of enthusiasm in tone, not because of attitude, but because of familiarity with the language. You should not stammer or stutter in a way that causes distraction to yourself and the interviewer.
These are the basic communication skills that call centers are looking for in potential applicants. I know it's quite a tall order; especially the grammar and sentence construction part; but the good news is the other four factors can be developed through constant practice. As for the grammar and sentence construction part, you can buy reviewers (like TOEFL) to help you improve your grammar and overall sentence construction.