The voice of the company
Call centre agents (operators) are the initial contact for customers on the telephone. These agents answer queries about order tracking, complaints or any other request for information. They are empathetic, considerate and attentive to the customer's needs, offering advice and building customer loyalty. The call centre agent may also guide a user through an online or offline procedure step by step, for example when staffing an IT hotline. Agents must therefore be good at listening and giving instructions. Most importantly, a good call centre agent means a positive image for the company.
As well as taking incoming calls, agents may also cold-call existing and potential customers to sell the company's services or products, which they must know inside and out. Good negotiation skills are a strong asset here. Call centre agents must not fear rejection if they are to meet their targets. They enter information into documentary databases so their activities can be monitored and customer information identified.
Most agents communicate via telephone, meaning that a pleasant and cheerful telephone manner is essential. Increasingly, customers are also connecting with customer services via tablet PCs, desktop computers, online chats and email. Agents must therefore have good writing skills and be confident with using IT tools.
Call centres are major job providers and are operated by a wide variety of businesses, such as mobile network providers, credit organisations, customer service centres, insurance providers, tourist agencies, IT companies, and many more. Call centre agents work in teams, often in open-plan offices. Their schedules may be shifted depending on when their customers are active. Business customers can generally be contacted during the day, while private individuals are easier to reach on evenings and weekends.
Skills required: a talent for sales – patience – politeness – responsiveness – an ability to cope with stress – flexibility – interpersonal skills