If you're anything like me, you're probably thinking, "Call centers are still up and running?"
You'd think people would choose a different way to get assistance after being put on hold for 25 minutes. But, in many cases, a customer might prefer to pick up the phone and get immediate help than wait around for an email or live chat response. That's why many companies still have a robust customer-facing team manning the phones.
We've all spoken with a call center agent at some point, but we often don't know what an agent's daily responsibilities are. So we've highlighted their daily tasks and responsibilities below, along with some considerations if you think a role in phone-based customer support could be for you.
Call Center Agent Responsibilities
Help customers across mediums: phone (primary channel), email and chat
Communicate thoughtful, personalized solutions to ensure the customer can successfully move forward
Provide a positive customer experience, in line with brand tone and values
Tailor the experience and support style you take on to fit the customer's role, personality and background
Document and respond to web tickets efficiently as well as reporting any issues to appropriate teams within the company
With the variety of duties an agent must tackle, the best reps wear many different hats -- from answering calls to improving procedures to dealing with every sort of customer imaginable.
(For a more extensive list on the responsibilities of a call center agent, check out the job description for a Customer Support position at HubSpot.)
In order to be successful in this field, call center agents need a handful of skills, including knowledge retention, flexibility, attention to detail, creativity, and organization. Whether you call it a call center or a contact center, an agent is on the front lines of the business, helping define the customer experience.
In fact, customer service representative jobs are set to grow 36% from 2016 to 2026. Reps have the ability to onboard new customers and help retain them, so it's a highly valuable position for any company.
So what does that mean for you? Let's review the highs and lows of the role.
Working at a Call Center: Pros and Cons
1. You gain transferable skills.
A shift is happening. Between advances in technology and 73% of all customers calling to address questions and concerns, companies can see the value of needing the best service for their customers.
That means you get the chance to be educated in everything from product training to customer service to program and computer skills. Whether you want to move up in the world of customer service or are a recent graduate looking to gain some entry-level knowledge, the skills developed inside a call center will help you in every job that comes your way.
Say you want to branch out into the marketing sphere and exercise your skills in blog writing, market research, or content creation for social. These are all roles and responsibilities you could land with outstanding communication skills and detailed product expertise.
2. You learn excellent communication skills.
By this, I don't just mean knowing how to talk to someone. I mean the entire spectrum of communication skills that's out there.
Every customer is looking for a quick, efficient, and pleasant call. Agents need to master the art of communication styles, engaging listening skills and asking quality questions to get to the root of the problem.
According to Paul J. Meyer, "Communication -- the human connection -- is the key to personal and career success." So, while hitting your goals, you're also becoming a pro at communication in every sense.
3. You get great compensation and benefits.
For a job that gives you the option of working from home and doesn't require a formal degree, call center reps can earn a lot in exchange for the impact they have. How would you feel about generous paid time off, paid holidays, and monthly incentives and bonuses?
Between starting salaries of $30K, major perks and promotions, the journey is only upwards for agents. Call centers are known for quick promotions, whether or not you've been around for a while. Your work speaks for you. So if you're good at what you do - chances are, you'll be promoted before you even know it.
1. There may be unpredictable hours and stress.
Since most companies have global audiences, being in different time zones can sometimes mean you have to be prepared to work nights or weekends. That, too, includes working with different customer personalities from around the globe.
This means long hours and never-ending customer service. But through these experiences, you develop major problem-solving skills and learn how to work independently despite the stress. After a point, you'll be able to provide exceptional customer service, even when you feel the need to recharge.
This, ultimately, will prep you for future challenges and leadership positions.
2. Your team may experience high turnover.
One of the biggest challenges faced by call centers is increasingly high turnover rates from 30 to 45%. It could be a lack of training or experience or even the many students applying for an entry-level job.
You'll be faced with the dynamics of unstable teams, which can lead to difficult change management. However, building trust, growing your teams and keeping the service consistent within a constantly changing environment also trains you for different workplaces and, most importantly, a world changing faster than ever before.
3. You may feel stuck in a sedentary position.
Considering the work of an agent is primarily phone-based, most call centers require agents to work eight or nine-hour hour shifts, depending on company policy, state law and location. Before you know it, you'll be sitting for long periods of time, swiveling around in your chair as you talk to multiple customers throughout the day.
Sitting all day can lead to higher chances of illness, body aches and pains and long-term diseases.
Don't forget to check your posture, drink water and take short breaks. A good way to get around this is to invest in a standing desk and a pair of headsets, so you can walk around, keep changing positions, get your exercise in and, still, solve for the customer.
As with any job, call centers have their ups and downs. However, prepping with the necessary skills, understanding the responsibilities of the role, and viewing your role as an essential part of the customer experience will ensure you enjoy your role to its fullest.