25 tips and tricks that will make working in a call center fun
The average contact center has an employee turnover rate of between 30% and 45%, and those who leave often have horror stories to share. They say working there is stressful, exhausting, and only suitable for short-term employment. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people today are under the impression that working at a call center is an experience you’re better off avoiding. But does it actually have to be as bad as they say?
We’d argue that it doesn’t, and so would the many thousands of people who’ve made a successful career out of call center work. These call center veterans often rely on certain tips and tricks, things that make their work not only bearable but enjoyable.
We’ve compiled a list of 25 of these tips and tricks, guaranteed to make your life in a call center easier, more productive, and more satisfying.
#1 Create a to-do list and sort tasks by priority
It may sound unnecessary, but creating a to-do list to keep track of your tasks and goals can really help you manage your time better. Here’s why:
- You can see what you have to do that day — which tasks you can do in a flash and which will take more of your time and energy
- You can sort your tasks by priority and get the most pressing matters out of the way first. This is especially useful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do since it may not seem as daunting when you note it all down and put it in order.
Crossing out the tasks you’ve already finished gives you a boost of confidence and makes it easier to deal with the rest of your work.
#2 Don’t multitask
Think that multitasking will allow you to finish your daily task faster? Then think again. When doing several tasks at once, not only is it difficult to properly focus on either of the tasks, but you are also far more likely to make mistakes.
It’s much better to focus on one task for a specific amount of time (like 30 minutes or an hour) and then moving on to a completely different task, rather than attempt to do both at once.
If you haven’t read it yet, we recommend checking out the book The One Thing by Gary Keller.
#3 Take notes while on calls
Writing down your call notes after hanging up the phone seems logical, right? Wrong. If you write down your notes only after a call has ended, there’s a risk you might forget essential details mentioned during your conversation. It’s always better to take notes during calls. Here’s why:
- It will help you remember all details and suggestions given to the caller.
- It will save you quite some time you would otherwise spend on ACW – just copy the notes you already took into your call log and you’re done.
#4 Don’t tell a customer you’re “new here”
You might sometimes think that both callers and management expect you to be a walking encyclopedia of answers to all possible questions and issues. But even veteran sales reps don’t know the answer to every question and sometimes need to ask for help.You can’t solve every problem and satisfy 100% of customers, as some things will be beyond your control.
Rather than pretend you know the answer when you don’t (the caller will quickly notice that), admit honestly that you can’t answer the question or issue but that you can contact someone who will know. That will make you come across like a helpful and professional agent, not a “know-it-all.” While it’s perfectly fine to tell a caller you don’t know an answer to a question or how to solve a given issue, you can’t justify it by saying that you were only recently hired. If you do, you might make the customer doubt your abilities to solve their issue, and they might ask to be transferred to a different agent. So even if you are a novice, avoid mentioning or implying it to a customer.
#5 Get to know your calling tools and knowledge base
Needing help with an unexpected issue or task you are unfamiliar with is one thing, but during calls, you won’t have much time to ask a coworker for help with a tool or search through the knowledge base.
So to avoid a nerve-wracking situation when you can’t find the necessary article in the database or when you forget how to perform a given task in the phone system (which won’t make a good impression on the caller), take your time to learn how your phone tools work inside-out and what the main features and specifications of the products you offer are. Not only will that boost your own confidence, but your knowledge will also impress callers.
#6 Write a calling script
Learning all there is about a product or system is important, but when you have to make several calls during a day, you still might get stuck. But if you have a handy guide nearby, you can quickly get back on track.
Call scripts are incredibly helpful for anyone who has to make tons of calls every day.
Call scripts are especially convenient during hectic days or as guides for new agents that are just starting to learn the ropes, as having a pre-written dialogue can take a lot of stress off their shoulders. A pro-tip here is to add answers to frequently answered questions, ways to deal with rude customers, or tips to overcome sales objections to your script.
#7 Speak slowly and calmly
Customers can immediately sense an agent’s mood from the way they speak. You have surely had many situations when you called someone, and the person on the other end made you feel like you were a nuisance, right? What was your response to that? Wishing to end the call as soon as possible? If the agent sounds frustrated or irritated, that makes the caller nervous as well. However, if agents speak in a natural and upbeat voice, the callers feel more at ease.Talking at a rapid pace can also frustrate the caller. For you, it may sound like you want to give them as much information as possible, but for the caller, it might seem like you want to end the call as soon as possible. Besides, speaking fast makes it difficult for the caller to understand what you are saying.
#8 Don’t overpromise
When solving a customer’s issue, never leave them with an answer or solution that makes them upset or disappointed, as this might make them leave the company in a flash.
For example, imagine you call a company selling computer optimization software and tell them that your license was marked as expired even though it should have been valid for five more months. How would you feel if the support agent told you that if you didn’t buy the license straight from their shop and didn’t register it through their system, then they can’t help you, and you need to buy a new license. Not very good we bet.
Before ending a call, make sure your customer is satisfied with the answer you gave them and that they don’t have any additional questions. In case you will be following up, also inform them when you will call again.
#9 Do put callers on hold
Customers do not like being put on hold, as it makes the call last longer. But if it will actually help them get their problem solved faster, they are much more likely to agree. If you need to ask a superior or coworker for advice or an explanation, don’t hesitate to put the customer on hold. But that doesn’t mean you can leave them hanging!
- First, ask your customers if they are willing to wait for a while on hold while you ask a coworker for help with their issues.
- If they agree, tell them (if you know) how long they will be put on hold for and that you will get back to them as soon as possible.
- After returning to the call, thank the customer for staying on hold.
- If a customer says they don’t want to stay on hold (if they are busy, for example), ask them if and when you can contact them later.
Customers prefer getting their issues solved on the first call rather than having to make several. If that means they have to spend a bit more time on the line, most of them are okay with it.
#10 Learn how to deal with rude customers
It’s one thing when a customer voices their dissatisfaction about a faulty product or service, but it’s entirely different when callers resort to offensive language, verbal abuse, or even threats.
What can you do in such a situation? One solution is to remind yourself that the customer isn’t angry at you, even if the insults seem to be directed at you. They’re mad at the software, at the company’s policies, at themself for making a stupid mistake and having to ask for help, or just angry because of something completely unrelated to the call and need a way to vent off. You just appeared conveniently in their way, so don’t let them get to you. Be polite, apologize for the inconvenience, and keep calm – even if you feel tempted to talk back.
Our tip on what to do after such an encounter? Take a break and give yourself time to calm down. You can vent to a coworker about the caller, do some stretching exercises, rest, or have a snack and cup of tea. If the caller was especially aggressive, report them to management.
Learn how to communicate successfully.
#11 Use the mute button
Mute buttons are great for three things:
- short pauses during a call when you don’t need to put the customer on hold
- having a way to get an angry customer to vent their frustration without you having to listen to them
- for venting off whenever you have an especially difficult customer
But as plenty of “mute button failure” stories can attest, trusting it too much might result in a pretty awkward situation. Double-check the mute button before venting to a colleague to make sure your caller won’t hear you.
#12 Automate some tasks
Besides answering or making calls, you surely have dozens of smaller tasks you have to do every day – updating your database, checking your metrics, writing emails, and all other tasks that are a part of your ACW routine. But do you really need to do all of those manually? Not in 2022!
There are plenty of automation tools on the market nowadays that can free some of your time and let you focus on your customers. For example, CloudTalk can offer several handy ways to automate some of your daily tasks and make your work life a bit easier, such as:
- Automatic call queuing – all incoming calls are sorted into different queues based on previously defined rules and are automatically directed to the right agent.
- Call recording – CloudTalk can automatically record all calls and store them inside a database, where they can be accessed at any time.
- Call notes – allow you to add comments to any call you want, either during or afterward.
- Smart dialer – this feature automatically compiles phone numbers into a list and lets you go through them one by one without dialing manually.
Call center tools can also help you save valuable minutes on your After-Call Work (ACW) tasks, which means you will have more time to help your callers.
#13 Analyze your calls
It takes a lot of practice to be able to offer exceptional customer support. With each phone call you make, you will learn more and can use that knowledge to improve your skills for the next call. But when you make dozens of calls each day, remembering every detail from them is virtually impossible.
Fortunately, now you can record all your calls just by pressing one button and store them to analyze later whenever you wish, both to identify your strengths and to find areas in which you could improve.
Our advice is to play those recordings to a coworker and ask them for an opinion – they might point out things that you didn’t think about or give you tips on dealing with specific problems.
#14 Ask for help if you’re stuck
We all have bad days when the work doesn’t go the way we want it to. On days like those, it can be difficult to engage with customers.
Here’s a couple of easy questions that you can ask to find out what exactly is bothering a caller:
- Is something not clear to you?
- Do you need help using the phone system or other call center tools?
- Do you have a problem with filling in your paperwork?
Don’t hesitate to ask other coworkers for tips or help if you feel like you have too much on your plate. You don’t have to do everything on your own – accepting someone else’s help once in a while and helping others in return is what makes a great team.
#15 Smile when talking on the phone
Following on from the previous point – do you know a great way to make yourself sound cheerful when answering a call? Smiling while doing so! This might sound like a strange tip (smiling into a phone recorder?), but according to several studies, it does work.
Smiling changes your tone of voice for a more positive one, and your callers can hear it!
You can test it out for yourself – try saying something with a smile and then say the same thing with a neutral expression. You’ll probably notice that your voice sounds more friendly and upbeat in the former case. Starting a call with a smile is a great way to set a positive tone for the whole conversation.
#16 Be exceptionally patient with elderly people
Dealing with elderly customers’ phone calls comes with its own challenges. Firstly, it might be difficult for them to explain to you exactly what problem they have or what they want you to do for them, so you need to give them extra attention and ask them detailed questions.
It might also take them longer to make decisions or respond to your questions. Stay patient, listen carefully, and ensure they have understood the instructions you gave them (you can suggest that they write them down) and are satisfied with the way the issue was handled.
#17 Admit to your mistakes, and don’t be shy about apologizing
For some reason, plenty of people (and companies) seem to think that if they pretend they are infallible and that they never make mistakes, then customers will be more confident in their service or product. And quite often, that strategy backfires when a company tries to cover up a glaring mistake they made instead of simply apologizing to the customer. We are all humans who make mistakes, after all.
So whether you made a mistake during a call with a client or made an error in your paperwork, admit to it and fix it. That will show you are taking responsibility for your actions and are willing to face the music if you mess up. And trust me, nothing makes a customer more impressed than when an agent can sincerely apologize to them for making a mistake.
#18 Personalize your workspace
We spend around a third of our lives at work. What does your workspace look like? Do you have just a computer, a phone, and many office-related papers on your desk? If you sit at a dull, gray desk in a cluttered room for the whole day, it might be hard to remain upbeat, productive, and motivated. So why not turn your corner, cubicle, or room into something a bit more welcoming?
To brighten up your desk, add personal items (family photos, travel memorabilia, mascots, etc.), funny posters, plants, or any other stuff that makes your workstation a bit more of a cheerful place to spend time.
Of course, remember you are still at work – so cluttering your desk with trinkets or using beach photos isn’t the best idea.
#19 Take a break if you need it
With so much happening during the day, you might have problems finding time for a short break – especially if you have a never-ending amount of calls and issues to solve. But you probably also noticed that your energy and productivity plummet if you spend hours in front of your screen or making call after call.
Whenever this happens, take a break! Having a short rest to step away from your screen and have a little walk can refresh your mind and let you get back to working at 100% again.
#20 Move around
25% of Americans spend more than 8 hours a day sitting, and 44% say they don’t do any physical activity during the week. We all know that sitting for long periods is unhealthy – we have heard about it plenty of times already. Especially in call centers, where the work never ends, you might feel like a large part of your job is spent on your bum.
But what to do when gyms are (mostly) closed, and the last thing you can think about when returning home is doing a workout? There are a couple of exercises you can do between calls: from shoulder raises, arm circles, and chair squats to calf raises, imaginary jump ropes, and wall push-ups, just to name a few. Afraid of getting weird looks from your coworkers? Walking during the day or climbing the stairs instead of using the elevator can work just as well.
#21 Don’t take things personally
Customers, especially aggravated ones, can say really hurtful things sometimes. They’re looking for a scapegoat, and the unlucky customer service agent who picks up their call usually faces the brunt of their anger.
It’s important to remember that a frustrated customer isn’t actually frustrated with you. Rather, they’re frustrated by their situation — the product isn’t working correctly, or their delivery package is late. Reminding yourself of this fact will help you maintain your composure when dealing with angry customers.
#22 Practice using coping mechanisms
Coping mechanisms can help you make it through even the toughest of weeks. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Have a quick stretch in between calls
- Squeeze a stress ball while talking to customers
- Get some fresh air
- Socialize with colleagues in the break room
No matter what your preferred coping mechanism is, be sure to incorporate it into your daily routine. It’s the best way to avoid burnout as a call center agent.
#23 Be kind to yourself
All of us are human, and we’re prone to making the occasional mistake, and we should never beat up on ourselves about it.
Call center agents especially have to deal with stressful situations day in and day out. Frustrated callers, overbearing bosses, and redundant call scripts are just a few of the many things that make this job tough.
So if you feel like you need a break, take it. Your mental health matters a great deal, so always remember to be kind to yourself.
Oh, and don’t forget to drink enough water!
#24 Meditate if you can
Meditation has helped people recover and re-energize for millennia. When you work a stressful job in a call center, meditation can be key to keeping centered. If you’re able to find a quiet place at the office in which to meditate, more power to you. If you find you’re more comfortable meditating at home, that’s alright, too.
Whatever the environment, routine meditation can help you become and remain the best version of yourself.
#25 Leave work at the office
Call center work is such demanding work, it’s important to leave it at the office. The time between clocking out in the evening and clocking in the morning is all your own. Make the most of it by engaging in relaxing activities like cooking, reading, or walking a dog. Of course, everyone relaxes differently — just find out what works for you and be sure to always make time for it.
CloudTalk helps thousands of companies grow.
Pros and cons + Conclusion:
To summarize, here’s a quick list of the pros and cons of working in a call center:
- Work in the comfort of an indoor office
- Not physically demanding
- Regular working hours, free weekends
- Improved social skills
- No college degree necessary
- High employee churn
- Financial insecurity
- Lack of physical exercise
- Difficult to climb the corporate ladder
- Have to deal with difficult customers
The work of a call center agent does require tremendous amounts of patience and nerves of steel – and with growing customer expectations, this probably won’t change. But does that mean that call center work has to be a nightmare? Using our call center tips and tricks can make your call center life a bit easier and more satisfying, so why not try them out today?
How to improve call center efficiency?
Improving overall performance boosts call center efficiency. Call center efficiency is all about taking the proper steps in order to reach objectives. Here is how you can be more efficient:
▪️ focus on the problem,
▪️ make call notes,
▪️ be polite, empathetic and act naturally,
▪️ don’t speak too fast,
▪️ don’t interrupt customer and listen actively,
▪️ pay attention,
▪️ restate the issue,
▪️ analyze your calls.
How to be a good call center agent?
▪️ be good at handling pressure,
▪️ be efficient, fast but still able to maintain quality,
▪️ have a talent for problem solving,
▪️ know how to multitask,
▪️ be a team player,
▪️ work on his emotional stability and empathy,
▪️ have positive attitude,
▪️ be hungry for knowledge and self development.
How to make a call center job fun?
5 ways to make call center job exciting:
▪️ Have a great call center software,
▪️ create a pleasant company culture (set your company values and vision),
▪️ suggest creative activities ( breakfast party or theme days, celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, etc.),
▪️ share experiences between colleagues,
▪️ surprise your agents with a small gift (personalized mug, creative t-shirt, basket of sweets, etc.).