While speaking over the phone can have its disadvantages, such as waiting to speak to someone in busy periods, a lot of people prefer this method of communication over waiting on an email or live chat, as you can end up with an immediate answer. This is why many companies around the UK still have robust customer facing teams manning the phones.
We have all had to interact with a call centre at some point, whether it be to fix your boiler or upgrade your phone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we know what processes or daily responsibilities are happening behind the scenes.
So, what is a call centre? A call centre is an office whose function is to filter incoming or outgoing customer phone calls. They are all manned and operated by phone representatives who manage each call, keep track of the case and any money transactions. Usually, to ensure teams are organised, offices use well equipped call centre software to enable them to interact with all customers easily and efficiently.
Call centres can either be proactive or reactive. This means that they can either reach out to customers with service offers and solutions, or they can act on the incoming calls. Many companies now offer proactive customer service to help create a stronger relationship with customers.
To work in a call centre you will need to be motivated by customer success. A phone agent is generally a problem solver who is committed to enhancing the customers’ experience and journey. Call centres typically are fast paced and require an agent to manage a handful of different responsibilities. Agents will need to be flexible with their workflow and be capable of handling unexpected issues. Whilst this may cause their workload to change daily, agents will still perform the same core call centre duties each day.
It doesn't matter what industry the call centre is based in, all duties are essential to a customer service team for short term and long term success. By consistently completing duties and responsibilities, departments can deliver positive customer experience on nearly every interaction.
It is important that all call centre agents work together as a team and help create a system that will manage customer service demands. It’s also essential that Customer Service Managers lead by providing helpful strategies and help where needed.
It is always important to have key skills when working in a call centre as this environment and job may not suit everyone, and it is definitely not easy.
Customers do not want to repeat their problems every time they call. They are looking for timely solutions and re-explaining will cost valuable time and doesn't help to progress towards a resolution. A good agent will be able to interpret a customer’s problem and understand the issue the first time they hear it.
One characteristic of a call centre agent role is that day to day responsibilities can sometimes be unpredictable. An issue may arise with no warning, therefore an agent will need to be flexible and adapt to these unexpected situations. This means that an agent needs to be able to spring into action, at a moment's notice.
When providing a customer with an answer, giving them a "nearly" right answer just doesn't cut it. Every customer has specific needs and will not appreciate even small details being overlooked. It is important that the agent pays close attention to the customers’ needs and does everything they can to satisfy every one. By doing this it demonstrates you are going above and beyond for the customer, which improves customer satisfaction.
Sometimes whilst on the phone the solution to the customer’s problem is not that clear or achievable, especially if the customer has an idea of a solution which does not line up with the company’s rules or regulations. Whilst it may not be the agent’s fault, they will need to come up with an alternative solution. This is where agents need to be creative by offering and suggesting different ideas that will both benefit the company and the customer. A creative agent will be able to use the resources set out for them to fulfill the customers’ needs in an unanticipated way.
As mentioned above, not all calls can be resolved within the first call, and follow ups may create challenges for agents in terms of managing their cases efficiently and being able to provide updates or catch ups in a timely manner. Being organised will enable the agent to manage ongoing contact and their daily responsibilities or tasks.
Working in a call centre can be very demanding, but what job does not get like that sometimes? It can also be very rewarding, especially when you know you have done all you can for the customer.
A call centre enables agents to learn something new just about every day, and gain new skills - whether that be in life or in business - as you’re faced with different obstacles and challenges all the time. Most days the job is fast paced, which means there are calls waiting to be answered in a timely manner, whilst you wrap up the previous call.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to working in a call centre environment. We've listed some of the most common pros and cons below:
As with any job, a call centre will have its ups and downs. But by ensuring you have the correct skills, understand the responsibilities of the position, and view your role as an essential part of the customer experience, you will enjoy the role to its fullest.
Before an agent starts taking on calls, they are put through rigorous training. These training programs are generally divided into different phases in order to help agents achieve expertise in all aspects of customer handling. The training also provides the agent with confidence to take on any call, especially if they are not a call centre veteran. At least some level of training will always be needed, as while talking to customers may seem simple to some people, it can become challenging when a customer is angry or disappointed with the service. Call centre training can be a strenuous task, as there will be so many systems and processes to learn, but this training will provide you with the key information to get you through every call.