Working in a Call Center: What You Need to Know Before Starting
This article allows you to gain a deeper understanding of what working in a call center includes. We will touch upon topics like descriptions for different roles, the skills that are required to do them, and the pros and cons of the call center job. Let’s begin exploring whether or not this type of work still interests you.
What is a call center?
By definition, call centers are places where agents work to answer customers’ questions and solve their problems over the phone or via other means of communication.
Agents may ask customers questions, take orders, or arrange things like insurance. In practice though, the whole experience and nature of call centers has significantly changed over the last few years. This is mostly thanks to the development of various technologies.
There are three main types of call centers
They can also be classified as in-house or outsourced.
Inbound call centers work by employing agents who take customers’ calls. In outbound call centers it’s the agents who make calls and reach out to potential or existing customers. The latter is most commonly associated with sales, customer surveys, and other promotional activities aimed at making a profit.
Finally, we have virtual call centers, often called cloud-based call centers. This type of call centre is becoming more and more popular nowadays. This is largely thanks to the fact they can operate from anywhere in the world without the need for office facilities. The only requirements are a stable internet connection and a device that can access the web, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a phone.
Call center job descriptions
Stating that you work in a call center is very non-specific. As in most industries, there are many different job positions in this line of work. They all require different skills and encompass different responsibilities. Since you’re considering working in a call center, you probably already have an idea about what kind of position would be the best for you.
If you don’t know yet, or you cannot decide, here are brief descriptions of your possibilities.
Call center manager
If call centers were hives, then call centers managers would be the queen bees. They hire, train, motivate and prepare their staff members to provide customers with outstanding service.
They’re usually responsible for aspects like:
- setting objectives
- analyzing various metrics
- fulfilling goals
- ensuring the high quality and reliability of the customer service provided
To become a call center manager, you usually need to have prior experience working in this position. After all, it takes quite a lot of knowledge and understanding to be able to manage other employees. Another possible scenario is that you join a call center working in introductory roles first. You then gain the necessary experience to become a manager, and then get promoted to this position. Usually, it’s impossible to become a manager any other way.
Team leaders are the next position down the hierarchy after managers.
They are equally important components of a reliable and successful call center team. Although some of their duties may be similar to those of call center managers, the roles differ in other aspects. Similarly, you’ll need prior management and call center experience before getting a job as a team leader. The responsibilities usually include tasks that are strictly associated with other agents and their performance, such as:
- developing, teaching, and training staff
- supporting staff
- controlling employees’ performance and reporting to managers
- communicating with managers and agents
Team leaders play an important role in ensuring that customers are satisfied and all performance and efficiency metrics are met. The necessary skills for working well in this role include excellent leadership, strong teaching, and people development abilities.
Sounds like you? Great!
A quality assurance specialist ensures that the final product meets the company’s quality standards. These detail-oriented professionals are responsible for the design and implementation of inspection activities, detecting and resolving problems, plus ensuring the delivery of satisfactory results.
Technical support agent
If you’re good with technical aspects, this role may be perfect for you. This job also requires good communication skills, because it combines the best of both worlds: tech and people skills.
A technical support agents’ tasks are usually to answer calls and resolve any technical issues that customers report. People working in this role have to be good at listening and solving problems quickly. They also need to know their products well so that they can fix any inquiry effortlessly. If this sounds like you, then it may be a position to consider.
Customer service representative
The next type of work on our list is that of a customer service representative. In this role, your key responsibilities are to provide product and service information to customers, answer their questions, plus resolve product and service issues.
Outbound call center agent – Telemarketer
Outbound call center agents usually reach out to potential customers with the intent to sell or generate interest around a specific product. This position would be perfect for anyone with good communication and persuasion skills.
What are the required skills for working in a call center?
First and foremost, you will need excellent communication skills. Some say you can learn them while working as a call center agent. Whilst this is true, you will need some level of communication skills, to begin with. This job definitely isn’t for people who don’t like talking or have a hard time interacting with people.
You will need to be flexible on various levels when it comes to working in a call center. This is not only when it comes to your overall availability, too. For example, for working on weekends and during holidays, you need to be flexible.
This also includes your interactions with customers. Everyone is different, and sometimes you may find yourself having to deal with difficult clients. Therefore, you will need to be flexible enough to leave your own personal opinions at home and realize that in a call center, the customer is (almost) always right.
Another necessary skill is the ability to multitask. Being able to manage several different responsibilities at the same time is becoming an increasingly desired skill among service representatives. Why? Working in a call center isn’t just speaking over the phone all day. It also involves writing emails, taking notes, checking various pieces of information, managing online chats, and more. Without the ability to multitask, you may find this job challenging and chaotic at times.
4. Efficient problem-solving under pressure
Probably one of the most important skills that you need to possess is problem-solving. Call centers exist to solve customers’ problems and respond to inquiries. Many of those customers can be very demanding and aggressive. As such, you will need to be able to meet their expectations and solve their issues with a cold head. Without patience and basic problem-solving skills, it can be very difficult to do your job effectively.
5. Customer-focused outlook
As already mentioned, customers are always right – even when they’re not. For this reason, you will need to have a customer-focused outlook on your job. If you know how to take care of others’ needs without being selfish, a career in a call center could be perfect for you.
6. Organization skills
As with all job positions, you will need to stay organized. Every workplace has its own rules and policies that should be respected. Whilst this isn’t something new, you may need to prepare yourself for a specific organization and management rules.
Good organizational skills will also allow you to focus on the important aspects of your job, manage your time well, delegate tasks efficiently, and reduce unnecessary clutter.
7. Knowledge retention
This skill makes information transferable. In order to provide customers with the highest level of support, agents must be able to memorize a lot of information about their company and its products or services. It is also important for call centre agents to know who to contact when they cannot resolve an issue. In cases like this, features like 3 way calling can help.
Learn how to communicate successfully.
Pros and cons of working in a call center
As with everything, being a call center agent has its pluses and minuses. Now that you know what skills may be required from you, let’s focus on the main pros and cons of this job. You will see if you still want to take up the challenge.
We will start with the bright sides and then explore the downsides.
Pros of working in a call center
Developing useful skills
A call center is a great place for personal development. When looking for ways to improve their CVs and gain valuable experience, many people start their professional careers as call center agents. Some of the skills you can improve and develop include organization, multitasking, communication, working under pressure, and many more. Knowing this can open the door to other job possibilities.
Compensations and benefits
One of the reasons why many young people decide to work in call centers is the salary they can earn whilst still studying. Of course, everyone has a different idea about their perfect salary. This doesn’t, however, change the fact that some call centers offer great payment and multiple benefits. Including perks like promotional codes for the company’s services.
Working from home
Many call centers, including traditional ones with physical office spaces, are increasingly becoming open to employees working from home. This may be music to your ears. If you live in a rural area, don’t want to spend money on transportation, or simply enjoy working from the comfort of your own bedroom, this job is definitely for you. Nowadays, many call centers don’t even have physical offices where people gather to work. This goes mainly for those companies that use cloud-based software.
Interactions with people
Despite working from home, you will be talking with people all day. If you’re shy and nervous when it comes to interacting with others, this job will teach you how to break the ice and be more confident in no time. Learning such skills will undoubtedly benefit you in the future, which is a win-win.
Cons of working in a call center
Do the pros look exciting and promising? Let’s take a look also at the cons, so you will see if you still fancy working in a call center.
First of all, one of the main characteristics of call centers is that they often need to be available and accessible to customers 24/7. For this reason, telemarketers, technical support members, and other call center workers have to be prepared to work on weekends and during holidays. If you don’t mind this, great. If, on the other hand, you like to have free weekends and holidays, this type of employment may be difficult for you. Do note, however, that not all call centers expect you to work at these times, so you may want to do some research before applying to a specific company.
Call center workers are often exposed to large amounts of pressure. That is due to the fast-moving nature of the business, a huge workload, and commonly inflated targets that may be challenging to reach. If you’re prone to stress and react in emotional ways, this job may not be the perfect fit for you. However, this could also be a great opportunity for you to learn how to stay calm under pressure.
Are you ready to start a call center career?
We’ve reached the end of this insightful article. What are your thoughts now? Are you still interested in working in a call center? If the answer is yes, we have some exciting news for you.
CloudTalk, a remote, fully cloud-based call center, is hiring now. Do you see yourself working for clients like Mercedes-Benz, Glovo, Fujitsu, Yves Rocher, and more? Awesome.
What does CloudTalk offer? Software technology is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. On top of that, you can expect to work in an international team that connects people around the globe and leads with team spirit. And the best thing? You can work 100% remotely.
Apart from customer support team members, some of the open positions at CloudTalk currently include Outbound Sales Representatives (in different languages), Inbound Sales Development Representatives, Account Executives, Data Analysts, Product Managers, Technical Recruiters, and more. Don’t hesitate and apply now.
If you liked this article, make sure to check out our other publications. Good luck, and enjoy your call center adventure.