Call centers are the interaction hub of companies. They are the customer care division that handle the customer requests, problems and potential customer queries.
Just as your would enter the office of a company with a query or transaction regarding their product or service, you do the same over a phone.
You have most likely called up a call centre yourself and spoken to a customer care representative sometime or the other.
The commonest call centers belong to the big consumer products companies, mobile phone companies, services like airlines, courier and such.
Whenever you have a problem or a query regarding a product, the company gives you a customer care or customer service number to call. These numbers are mostly of their call center where a call center executive answers your calls and assists you in your query.
Depending on the size of the company and the expanse of customer care required, the size of call centers varies. There are call centers big enough to occupy multiple floors of skyscrapers and those that are small enough to be operated out of a home.
Some call center jobs also exist for you to work out of your home. These are called telecommuting call center jobs or customer service jobs.
Typical call center jobs are regular office jobs where employees are hired to attend to phone calls coming from customers. You are trained to assist the customers with product queries and problems. After you have rendered the required assistance, you move on to the next caller who might be waiting in the queue.
A typical lasts for anything from 2 – 5 minutes. The number of calls you have to answer in a day depends on the work traffic that the company receives and the duration of the call. But on any regular day expect to answer dozens of calls. You are trained in all aspects customer request management as in some call centers you are also required to provide services as well. For example in a call center for an airline, you will be expected to book tickets for people over the phone as well or make cancellations of their tickets if they request. You will guide them through their enquiry regarding flight timings, schedules etc. So in a call center like this you are much more than just a call center executive. You are phone booking and ticketing agent as well.
Many banks have call center where the executives are required to provide services for phone banking which includes account information, activation and de-activation of certain facilities, information of new products and services and even making certain transactions on the request of the customer.
Same goes the mobile company call centers. So call center jobs are indeed more about than just making phone calls.
Needless to say, but computers and computer knowledge is involved in a call center job. It is not necessary for you to have prior knowledge as a beginner but it will surely help your cause. Each customer care executive usually has a computer wit pre-loaded software of the company that allows to access various kinds of information that will help you address the queries of the customers. They also give you access to customer records, product information, ordering status, transaction history and many other types of data.
Addressing emails has also now become an aspect of customer service jobs. So you will also be using a computer to answer emails. Many preset emails are used as templates to answer the common queries so that you do not have to type replies every time.
Other equipment used is a fax machine.
Live chat has become a popular means of customer service. This means that people have the option of chatting with you on a chat window over the internet rather than make a phone call to you. As your job profile you might also be required to chat with people online to address their requests. A job in a call center might be a culmination of all these activities.
A call center works like any other office where there are various levels of workers.
To begin with call center executives are divided in groups. For example, in a call center for ordering clothing, one team may support men’s’ apparel while another team may support teen’s or women’s’ clothing. Each call center is organized differently depending on the types of products or services they support.
Call center agents have a complete support team to assist them in their work. When difficult questions arise, most call centers have a help desk for their agents to use, or the call center provides support from the supervisors in each area. In some cases it is necessary to escalate the call to experts. If all these options fail, it may be necessary to call the customer back with the information they need.
Other types of teams within the call center may include the training group (for training new hires and ongoing training of agents), the quality monitoring team (for monitoring calls for customer service and quality), human resources (for recruiting and hiring call center agents) and the work force management (for scheduling employees to match the work load).
Call Center Setup
Let us try and present you with a typical call center setup. A typical call center employee sits on a workstation in front of an LCD display that is most commonly that of a computer on an elaborate LAN network. He /she wears a headset on which he/she answers calls. The display in front of the employee alerts the call center executive as to the number of callers that are waiting for assistance in the queue.
This way he knows best how to mange the calls. The call center employee answers calls from his computer through the headset that he wears. There are no typical phones to speak of. His hands are free to use them on the computer keyboard to serve the customer with their requests. The computer is used for checking things like account status, logging in complaints, requests etc.
There is also an automated system in place in the larger and the more advanced call centers. While dialing the number for a call center the caller has the option of choosing which department he / she wants to talk to or what particular service they want to access by pressing different numbers on their phones i.e. 1 for Option A, 2 for Option B etc.
Accordingly the calls are directed to the right customer service representative.
The more advanced automated systems can take care of entire queries by themselves without any interference from an actual call center representative.
A typical example of this is the call center of a phone company where you do not have to speak to anyone for making basic queries such as your bill, balance, current outstanding amounts, call details etc.
Phone banking has become a popular and convenient means of banking. You call up call centers where you can use the automated system to check your bank account balance, request check books, pay credit card bills etc. Only if you need help with more advanced and secure systems do you have the option of speaking to an actual customer care representative.
Scope Of Call Center Jobs
Call center jobs are not restricted to where the main offices of a company are. They can be based anywhere where setup costs and running costs are deemed more important. E.g. A company that has a head office in New York might choose to setup a call center where real estate rates or office space is cheaper.
Some bigger corporations even outsource call center jobs to other countries where operating costs are less. You may be calling a call center in the U.S. and getting answered by someone who works in a call center in Asia.
As mentioned earlier, there is also a scope of telecommuting with call center which means working from home.
You can work from home as a call center executive provided you have the necessary equipment like a dedicated phone line, internet, computer, a fax etc. for certain companies that hire people to work from home. These are called remote telecommuting jobs.
Some people have even opened small call centers in their homes where there are probably half a dozen employees working.
A reverse aspect of call center jobs is actually making the calls rather than receiving them. These are also known as telemarketing jobs. They are used by various services to call up phone lists that they acquire through various data banks. The executives make calls to market the products or services of the company. For example, have you ever received a call from someone trying to interest you in taking a credit card or buy a mobile phone connection? These calls are made from such telemarketing call centers. However, these kind of call centers are typically smaller in nature.
Call center management and technical positions
In addition to the front-line employees that work with customers, the call center offers many other jobs in both management and technical areas. Examples of employment opportunities include:
• Supervisor or team leader
• Training development and delivery
• Workforce scheduling
• Quality monitoring or quality assurance
• Business analyst (reporting and financials)
• Process specialists
• Human resources
• Information technology
• Facility design and maintenance
So you can see that call center jobs or customer service jobs are not restricted to the typical executive who answers calls. They are varied and give a chance for employment at different levels of management and experience.