Front-line CSRs, supervisors, QA coaches and call center managers alike believe this line. When our group talks about soft skills like apologizing for unmet customer expectations, offering to help with other needs, or consistently using courtesy – we regularly hear the great call center myth rise out of the mouths of clients like the slimy neck of the sea monster rising from the murky waters of Loch Ness.
"We don’t have time!" they say. "We have to keep our handle time down! Doing all that would increase our call time!"
Over the past seventeen years we have occasionally run the statistics, looking at the average call time of CSRs who have the highest Service Quality Assessment scores and comparing their average call time (ACT) to the center average. It’s never been statistically greater than the center average but is, quite often, a bit less. In fact, we have also found the opposite to be true, as well. CSRs who have the highest call times are often among the worst performers when it comes to soft skills.
So what’s behind the myth? To perform well in soft skills requires desire, conscious effort, and attention to detail. This means that the best soft skill performers generally do well in the hard skills of the call, as well. CSRs who focus on, and improve, their soft skills will generally improve in the other areas of the call too. Stretching to provide great service, even the soft skills, will usually make you more efficient – not less.