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How to Be a Call Center Agent

Working at a call center is a job that is considered by any a way to build up savings for university or a step towards something else, but it does offer career opportunities if you play your cards right.

Steps

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    Understand what the job involves. Working in a call center requires discipline to follow a flexible schedule, communication skills and the ability to multitask. You will have to help out customers while following your company's policies, and you will need to build up character to deal with upset and difficult customers.
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    Learn to use a computer. You need to be comfortable with most desktop environments and be able to type fast on a computer. Also, you need to know enough about a computer that using new software takes the shortest time for you to adapt yourself.
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    Develop your communication skills. You need to work on speaking slowly, without stuttering, using a professional tone of voice that reassures and calms down the customer, to show them that you are in control of the situation. Remember : you are the person to help out the customer. The customer does not have control of the call as they are calling for help and therefore do not know as much about your company and the system you use as you.
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    Learn to be on time. This may not seem very important, but call centers are very strict on punctuality. You need to arrive at work on time (most call centers will require you to come early to log in to your system or get ready to take calls) and take your breaks when your schedule gives them to you. This allows the call center to run with a maximum of agents ready to take calls at all time. So please, do not give to the temptation of taking your breaks with the cute guy who sits two rows away from you.
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    Stay up to date with your company's activities. Whether you work for a bank or a cellphone company, it is essential to be aware of the latest changes in the policies or the products offered. If your supervisors don't let you know about those changes, they might assume that it is your job to keep yourself updated (and they're right !). Frequently check your company's website and the internal memos that are sent to you.
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    Take time to breathe. Working at a call center can be very demanding, both emotionally and intellectually. Go out with your friends on the weekends, stay with your family and generally take time to yourself whenever you can. Even if you're the shy type, try to have social interaction outside of your workplace. This will allow you some distance, which is necessary for a good performance at work.
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    Learn from your supervisors. They did your job before and they know how hard it can get. Even though they can seem distant at times as they have to deal with a lot of agents, try to talk to them if you have breaks together and ask them advice on how to get better at your job. Most of the times they get commissions on their agents' performance so they will be glad to help you.
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    Work ! The job might seem hard enough at first that you'll want to quit. Don't let it bother you. Try to complete your training and then work a few months. Understand that if you only stay a few weeks at the job, you won't be able to put it on your resume as it will make you look unprofessional. So don't waste your time by quitting too soon. After a few months, you'll get the hang of it and will master the software as well as the customer service part of the job perfectly. But you have to give it time and work on it.
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    Approach the job with enthusiasm. Even though the job may seem hard, go in every day with a sense of optimism. Remember, it may seem hard at first, but once you complete your training and have been on the job for a few months, you’ll master everything about the role, from dealing with customers to the related software.

Tips

  • Don't overwork yourself. Too much work and not enough fun may lead you to a burn out, which is a type of depression that IS serious. Balance your life so you don't get too involved in your work to the detriment of your well-being.
  • Don't take anything customers tell you personally. To the customer, you may "only" be someone who speaks on the phone. They may not always be respectful to you and might treat you like you're a machine. If you go through a particularly difficult call, take a few seconds to breathe if you can, smile and move on to the next call.
  • This cannot be stressed enough, but DON'T OVERWORK YOURSELF. The better your mood when you come in to work, the better your performance.
  • Be compassionate. You may receive calls from relay service agents (the hearing-impaired customer talks to them through a chat and they read it out to you, then type in everything you say), from people who just lost a family member, from people with disabilities... You'll get all sorts of customers. This is one of the fascinating aspects of customer service but it does require empathy. Don't be discouraged, though ! Empathy is not something you're born with but something you learn. You'll get the hang of it with time but you have to try.
  • Every call center is different. If you feel like the job in itself suits you but that your workplace doesn't, consider switching jobs. Call center jobs are plenty and in general, working for a big company is more stressful but also more rewarding (be it financially or professionally), even though these jobs require previous experience in customer service / sales.
  • Smile while taking calls. You can hear when someone is smiling when they're talking, and it makes customers a bit nicer. Obviously it won't be of much use if the customer is really angry but it might help you with more mundane calls.

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Categories: Occupations