4 Neurolinguistic Traits that Help Predict Agent Success

by Cathy Biddulph in Agent Recruiting, Cathy Biddulph

Would you want your customers talking with unmotivated, uninterested, and unskilled agents? Of course not! You want your customers to talk with agents who are knowledgeable, skilled, and hardwired with the right neurolinguistic profile (aka mindset) to deliver a great experience. Every human brain processes communication and procedures differently. The study of neurolinguistics examines the connection between the processing and production of language – an essential component to any contact center environment.

Agents are the first point of interaction for various types of customer needs – issue resolution, customer service inquiry, reservations, tech support, sales and more. For this reason, most companies view customer service as a key differentiator and competitive advantage. Simply putting “bodies” in agent seats does not work, and is a sure fire way to high agent turnover. Nor would you want your customers to talk with an unmotivated agent. Companies trust an outsourcer with their customers – a huge responsibility – that requires rigid recruiting processes and new approaches to traditional call center problems like agent turnover.

A call center is only as strong as the quality of their agents. The ability to deliver outstanding customer experiences requires that each agent possess a way of listening, a way of talking, and a way of following a process that is tightly aligned with the type of interactions they will be managing. After researching and interviewing thousands of agents over the years, we’ve found that the best agents possess four innate traits that indicate their ability to service customers. The neurolinguistic profile we use scores agents on a 20 point scale based on a series of questions administered during the recruiting process.

1. Visual – How does the individual process visual communication?
Visual candidates tend to gesture a lot, speak rapidly, and look up often. A high score in the visual arena can indicate that the individual tends to be more emotional. Contact center agents with a calm demeanor are well suited to handle irritated or emotional customers.

2. Kinesthetic – How does an individual learn by executing a process? 
Kinesthetic candidates tend to be more grounded, talk slower, and look down and to the right more. These individuals are inclined to be very sympathetic to customers. The ideal agent would show empathy and ability to execute a process without getting personally caught up in the customer’s troubles.

3. Auditory – How does the individual process information by listening? 
This characteristic is tremendously important in a contact center agent. Although good listeners can be difficult to find, hiring an agent with excellent listening skills nearly guarantees their success in the voice channel. Auditory people love languages and communication, a positive characteristic in any agent.

4. Digital – What logical patterns does the individual possess? 
Digital candidates (as well as auditory) tend to exhibit frequent eye movement. They also often look down and to the left. Digital people are systematic and work well with a laid-out process. Star agents with high digital scores tend to work well from lists and create charts. These digitally-driven agents enjoy solving problems. These agents are primed for navigating complex tech support processes.

Companies seek out contact center outsourcers for many reasons – the ability to scale service, tapping into technology infrastructure, or having someone else shoulder the responsibility of recruiting highly capable agents. In addition to the “basics,” the moment of truth is met when that agent takes a customer call on behalf of your brand. Any contact center can have all the latest gear in the world, but without the right agent, that call won’t go anywhere.

This type of precise, calculated contact center agent recruiting will lower the centers’ turnover rates and ensure your customers are talking with agents whose natural tendencies are the right fit for handling the interaction. If you haven’t considered the importance of a scientific approach to your selection of an outsourced contact center, get in touch with our HR team to learn more.


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