When receiving inbound calls, agents must be able to quickly locate customers’ accounts and must thoroughly document the call along with all issues brought up and whether or not the issues were resolved. If an agent is placing outbound calls it could be to resolve an issue a customer has called in about which was not successfully resolved during their first call. Other outbound calls could include advertising for a company, sales, polls, and myriad other possibilities.
Companies often have strict guidelines which their call center agents must adhere to. These guidelines are in place to protect the company and the agent as well as to help the customer in the most efficient way possible.
Depending on how specialized a company a call center agent works for, academic requirements are usually minimal. A high school diploma is generally required.
Skills necessary in any call center agent position include basic computer skills, typing skills of at least 50–70 words per minute, excellent communication skills, a friendly voice and disposition, organizational skills, multi-tasking skills, and a cool disposition. Customers often call in frustrated and upset that a product they have is not working as it is supposed to. They often forget the person with whom they are speaking is not personally responsible for their problem and may inadvertently take out their anger on the call center agent. Agents must be able to not take offense, remain calm, and help calm the customer down in order to help the customer efficiently.
If a company is specialized, like a company selling blood glucose monitors for diabetics, then training for a position in this type of call center would likely be much more extensive than a position for, say, an electric company’s billing issues. While each job will require specific knowledge, some will require more in-depth training than others.
While prior experience is helpful in getting a job as a call center agent, it is usually not required unless you are pursuing a management or supervisory position.
Jobs in the customer service area, which call center agents fall into, are expected to increase much faster than the average for occupations across the board, at a rate of 25 percent from 2006 to 2016. The outlook is great, and job prospects in this field are excellent. Many companies are outsourcing call center jobs to countries oversees, so while the job outlook remains strong in the United States, it has also increased globally. Because many call centers are open around the clock, many employees find the flexibility of a 24-hour call center appealing.
Median hourly income for call center agents as of 2006 was $10.29 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is even higher for specialized areas or for management of other call center agents.
Jobs for call center agents can be exciting and challenging. These positions pay well, and are a possibility for anyone who has graduated high school. You could enter this field from any other field, making it an easy transition. Outlook is high and earnings are decent. Responsibilities for call center agents are growing, as is the demand for people to fill them.