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How to Improve Your Contact Center Post-Covid With Strong Soft Skills

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Contact centers have played a major role throughout the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. From helping customers contact their health insurance companies to reaching their banks to discuss options related to their mortgages, contact center agents have been working around the clock to support an increase in calls, as well as an increase in the complexity and sensitivity of calls.

One way that managers can support their contact center employees is through providing adequate training and resources to improve their soft and technical skills, particularly English language. Strong English skills can help with adequately addressing customer needs, maintaining high customer satisfaction, and receiving a high volume of calls with minimal customer drop-off. The better the agent understands the nature of the customer inquiry, the more ably the agent can swiftly address the problem.

Soft skills have been particularly important during the pandemic, as customers have been contacting contact centers with greater frequency and with issues that require more empathy. Details of the frustrations that customers encountered while on hold with their credit card companies, for instance, were documented in an article in Wharton Magazine titled “Covid-19’s Impact on contact centers.”

Of being placed on hold, one customer, American actor Josh Young, said, “I did want to cry. Two calls, no humans.” Why was it so important for him to reach someone at his bank? His credit card details were stolen and fraudulently used online. Another customer said of her long wait time on hold, “I was on hold for so long, I fell asleep... when I woke up, I was still on hold.”

The most important soft skills that center around English language proficiency include communication and questioning techniques, which, as evidenced in the long wait times that callers have experienced, have a tantamount impact on the quality of the call. Other soft skills which can contribute to the improvement of calls, supported by strong English usage, are empathy and self-awareness. These attributes have been increasingly important in the post-Covid landscape.

In addition to improving the customer experience, strong English language skills amongst contact center agents can increase performance for managers. The better the ability to cope with uncertainty and deploy strategic and adaptable questioning strategies, combined with empathetic tones and language, the more calls a center can address. In short, having strong interpersonal skills will drastically support contact center effectiveness. In the post-Covid world, it’s more vital than ever to have high call volumes combined with customer satisfaction.

The key metrics that will be impacted as a result of the heightened stress on contact centers, according to Persado, include:

  • Average Handle Time (AHT)
  • First Call Resolution (FCT)
  • Hold Times
  • Customer Experience (UX)
  • Abandonment Rate (AR)

Effectively testing new hires can drastically help with mitigating the above problems in contact centers, as well as help managers with running high-performing contact centers. Language tests such as Pearson English’s Versant tests are an example of a scalable, reliable solution that uses advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology and an integrated skills approach to measure communication. The patented AI scoring technology removes any bias and inconsistency of human judgment from the equation and accommodates scaling for large numbers of test takers.

Assessing English language proficiency is so important to help businesses improve the quality of their communication, reduce complaints related to language problems and misunderstandings, and improve the quality of their hiring.


Persado; contact centers brace for Covid-19 volume: How language can help; <https://www.persado.com/articles/call-centers-what-happening-whats-next-and-how-language-can-help/>

Taussig, E; 2020; Covid-19's impact on contact centers; <https://magazine.wharton.upenn.edu/digital/covid-19s-impact-on-call-centers/>