Call centre representative jobs are expected to grow by 39% between 2014 and 2024. It’s a job that has lots of growth potential for you, but is it really for you?
Let’s start with two experiences working in call centres. Here are two typical call centre experiences shared on Quora:
“My second job in life was in a call centre…It was not a hard job and the pay was $9 an hour which was a huge amount for someone just going to college and had little job experience. It was with a good company that started with the owners down with the other employees taking calls. There was a bedrock of people on first shift that had been there like 20 years and very settled into “their” cubical. As I said the work was easy. If you have good call centre skills you can get into better ones that pay well. I have met people that are really good at it and very bad at it. There are companies that treat their employees very good because they are the face and voice of the company that the customer speaks to and there are companies that treat you very bad because you are expendable…My last call centre was for the 1800 medicare account that was temporary. That was an interesting account. You had to engage usually very old people that were confused about how things worked that need a drug plan that covered all the drugs they took. It was some times very harrowing…I came up with the idea of suggesting going to their doctor and ask for samples to get by on till the plans started. One couple, the wife, got really huffy with me because the plan that they wanted only allowed one Viagra a week!”
Another writer shared:
“My sister currently works in a call centre for Comcast’s billing department. She takes inbound phone calls from financially unstable Comcast customers who have been prompted to call in response to some problem with their Comcast bill that has pissed them off. Usually, the problem at hand is a service interruption, but it varies. Personally, I would find this line of work insufferable. I am not a people-person, nor am I someone who could easily withstand being bombarded with other people’s negativity all day, every day. My sister, on the other hand, finds irrationally angry people hilarious…”
What Seven Skills Should Every Call Centre Agent Have?
In-depth knowledge of your Company’s Products or Services
As an agent, you’ll be answering dozens of questions about the company’s products and services. You need a deep understanding of the company’s inner workings, products, and services if you want to be trusted to represent the company in their conversations accurately.
This helps you feel more confident answering customer questions but also increasing the likelihood of a positive experience for customers.
An Attention to Detail and Organization
As a call centre agent, it’s essential to listen carefully to customers so you can provide them with accurate and satisfying answers. You need to be able to pick up on the things the customer is and isn’t saying.
Communicate Clearly and Effectively
Call centre agents need to have superior written and verbal communication skills. When talking with a customer, you also need to be both approachable and a credible source of information. You need to have the ability to clearly and effectively communicate your company’s policies, services, and next steps is critical.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Phone conversations happen in real-time. Being able to adapt to the conversation as it happens is a critical skill for you to have as an agent. You’ll be faced with strange customer demands, and odd technical diffculties from time to time. To ensure the customer’s experience doesn’t suffer from unexpected events, you need to be ready to handle whatever is thrown your way.
Sense of Empathy
Customers will frequently vent their frustrations when contacted by an agent. Their issue might not be something you can immediately fix, but if you can acknowledge a customer’s concerns and offer your respect, a customer may leave satisfied even if you couldn’t solve their specific problem.
It’s no secret that as a call centre agent, you can endure a lot of abuse from upset customers. You can’t take customer issues personally, you need to listen patiently and respond calmly to diffuse tense situations and leave customers with a good impression. This is the difference between a good call centre agent and a great one.
Being able to answer each customer’s call with the enthusiasm and positivity will create a good experience for every customer who crosses your path. Call centre agents are the voice of the company, so projecting a friendly tone and using positive language will help reassure customers that help is on the way.
8 Common Questions About Working in a Call Centre
What are the three most difficult things about working in a call centre?
According to one report, the top issues for call centre recruiting is employee dissatisfaction and low customer satisfaction rates. Dissatisfaction shows up as stress and unfulfilled staff that shows up as high turn over among staff.
Call centre jobs can be broken down into inbound and outbound call centre agents. Inbound agents answer customer calls coming into a company, while outbound make calls out to customers or prospects on behalf of a business.
To thrive in a call centre takes a specific kind of personality. Patience, adaptability, excellent listening skills are required. It’s a harsh environment that doesn’t have much downtime with hundreds of phone calls being answered or dialled each day.
What is an Inbound Agent, and what do they do Do?
Inbound agents answer customer calls coming into the company. Typically this might be on behalf of retailers, insurance providers, or a utility company. As the first point of contact, your essential responsibility is handling customer inquiries and complaints. You’ll have to deal with happy, disappointed, and angry customers. As an inbound agent, your job is to hear their concerns and do your best to put them at ease.
Additional responsibilities of inbound agents can include:
- Provide information about products and services
- Troubleshoot and resolve product issues and concerns
- Document the customer interactions in the company’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software
What is an Outbound Call Centre Agent, and what do they Do?
Outbound call centre agents are responsible for making calls to customers or prospects on behalf of the business. Outbound work can include telemarketing, sales, fundraising, or even surveys. These are refered to as cold calling, and outbound call centre agents tend to spend more time on the phone than inbound agents.
Beyond making calls to customers, the outbound agent may also include:
- Developing in-depth knowledge of a company’s products and the services they offer.
- Pitching or recommending new products or services to customers
- Scheduling sales appointments
Is Previous Experience needed to Work in a Call Centre?
While previous experience in a similar industry is preferred, many of the skills you’ve had in other of jobs, plus your ability to learn new things, can make you a great fit.
For example, customer service or sales experience is a huge benefit. have you worked as a sales associate, customer service representative, and even waiters or waitresses? These industries often require similar skills to working in a call centre. Having a positive and professional attitude, plus skills like cold calling, building a rapport with callers and being able to multitasking and prioritize tasks are key skills.
If you have any of these job experiences or skills, make sure you mention them in your answers during an interview.
How Stressful is Working in a Call Centre?
Call centres are the frontline of customer interaction, making them a naturally stressful environment. You might be bombarded with inquiries and complaints when taking inbound calls or often be faced with rejection when placing outbound calls. While call centres receive the brunt of angry and upset customers, they are rewarded every time they turn a sad customer into a happy one.
What Are The Opportunities for Professional Growth at a Call Centre?
Many of today’s CEO’s and other C-level executives got their start in a call centre. Call centre agents need to be flexible and able to learn on the job. These are in-demand skills to provide stellar customer experience, making them ideal candidates to move up in the company.
Typically you might start as an entry-level call centre agent. From there, you can advance to lead agent where you have the added responsibility of assisting or training your team members. With demonstrated leadership skills, you might move up to supervisor and eventually, manage the whole call centre.
How many hours does a call centre agent work?
Considering the work of an agent is primarily phone-based, most call centres require agents to work eight or nine-hour hour shifts, depending on company policy, state law and location.
You should now have a better idea of what call centre work involves and if it’s for you. If you’re more comfortable providing information, inbound might be a better fit, while if you feel selling is more your thing, look for outbound work.