The Pros and Cons of Working in a Call Center
Almost all big companies and major corporations use call centers, and demand for call center employees is often high, making call center jobs some of the easiest to land. Like any job, there are pros and cons to working in a call center. Employees who have the right skills and mindset tend to do well in the call center environment, while others may burn out quickly. The fact is, call centers have exceptionally high turnover rates, which is proof positive that working at a call center isn't for everyone. For the right person, however, call center work can be the perfect choice.
The pros and cons of call center work depend greatly on the type of calls (inbound or outbound), the overall work environment and how well-suited you are to call center work. On one hand, you'll be expected to make or answer calls and handle customer complaints all day, which can get tiring. On the other hand, call center jobs are generally easy to come by, don't require any hard labor and the dress code is typically pretty lax. Whether or not you will enjoy call center work will almost entirely depend on your own personality and skills.
Is a Call Center Job Right for You?
There are certain skills that may make you more successful as a call center employee. While most call centers offer training, having a built-in skill set will give you more of an edge over employees who aren't naturally attentive to detail or able to calm angry customers. Regardless of which type of call center job you get (customer service, technical support, etc.), the ability to learn new skills quickly, especially without a lot of supervision or instruction, will make the training period go by much more quickly.
Other skills that will come in handy in a call center environment include working well under pressure, having patience to deal with frustrated or angry customers and the ability to work in a noisy, high-pressure environment. If the call center job will involve cold-calling people, you must be assertive, confident and able to deal with constantly getting hung up on. Since many call centers offer 24/7 assistance, you should also be comfortable working a variety of hours, including early mornings, nights or weekends, depending on which shifts are available.
Call Center Training ProgramsMost call centers offer in-house training to new employees, and training may consist of job shadowing and training that deals specifically with the software you'll use and the types of calls you'll be dealing with. Many people who get jobs at call centers do not complete the training process, since there are often strict requirements regarding performance and attendance. You may also be asked to closely (or precisely) follow scripts and respond to customers in very specific ways, and deviating from what's expected can result in a reprimand, or even dismissal from the job, especially if you're still in training. Once you've completed on-the-job training, you'll be expected to jump in as a fully-functional and productive employee, so make sure you get the most you can out of training.
In lieu of (or in addition to) on-the-job training, there are several online and in-person call center training programs available to anyone who wants to increase their marketability when applying for call center jobs, or increase their performance at their current job. These call center training programs are designed to help improve customer service, optimize employee productivity and ultimately improve the quality and value of the call center. Some call centers require employees to go through outside training programs before becoming an employee or during their employment. Incentives may be offered to employees who complete call center training programs successfully. Regardless of incentives, if you intend to spend a significant amount of time working in call centers, taking a call center training program may be a great move on your part.
How to Be Great at a Call Center Job
Being a call center agent isn't the right move for everyone, but some people seem to excel at the job. Ever wonder what makes some people great at call center work, while others seem to fall flat? Certain skills and personality traits may make some people naturally good at what they do, but that doesn't mean those skills and traits can't be learned. Having the ability to keep a level head, even when situations escalate, being adaptable to different scenarios, even when that means breaking the script, being a great communicator (including being a good listener) and truly enjoying speaking with people for a living call all make for a great call center rep. If you aren't naturally outgoing and social, however, or if you tend to lose your patience or shut down when voices are raised, you'll need to work on improving those traits or finding ways to balance them out, so your call center work is not negatively affected.
Another way to boost your reputation as a great call center employee is to learn to speak another language fluently. Although most call center jobs don't require the ability to speak multiple languages, being able to do so can greatly influence how well you can communicate with your customers, while also giving you a big advantage over your competition when applying for work. Keep in mind that not everyone is cut out for call center work. If you find yourself trying hard to be the perfect call center employee, but fail miserably or simply hate your job, call center work may not be a good fit for you.
Working at a Call Center
You've landed a call center job and you're getting ready to start training, but now you're wondering what working at a call center is really like, and you might be surprised. When you walk in the door on your first day, don't be too shocked to learn that most people enjoy their job, despite the horror stories you're likely to have heard about working in a call center. The environment is often noisy, with plenty of background chatter, but most call centers are anything but boring or dull. While angry or irate calls do come through on occasion, those calls are generally far from the norm, and most call center reps work hard to keep their customers happy, just as they would in an in-person customer service role.
While in training, you'll be given the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the call center and the types of customers being served. Your first few days will likely be spent shadowing someone or listening in on calls, to get a better idea of how calls should be handled. Once you have a grasp on the basics, you'll likely be put on the phones with a supervisor listening in to make sure everything goes smoothly. This can be nerve-wracking, but helps ensure you're up to the task of handling a myriad of customer situations without faltering. During your training, take time to get to know your fellow call center employees, as they are likely be your lifeline during your employment at the call center. If you stick with the training and give your best effort, you'll be off on your own taking calls in no time.