Considering a call centre career? Here’s what you need to know

What does a call centre career look like in 2020? If your idea of a call centre is a single building full of people reactively answering the phone or making outbound sales calls, you could be missing out on a career with real potential as life is very different in a 2020 call centre.

In 2020, call centres offer a sophisticated range of services and functional assistance to the brands who’ve chosen to partner with a business process outsourcing call centre like CCI. Essential customer-focused tasks handled by contact centres include answering inbound calls or digital inbound interactions, handling various different interactions ranging from billing queries, technical support, general customer service / complaints and queries and performing all kinds of duties for multiple brands. Contact centres also handle questions and queries around any sales, wherever a customer wishes to upgrade their product suite, or cross-sell to another group of associated products or services.  All of which is a direct response to the evolving demand from customers.

Customer expectations transform call centre career paths

Customers expect a flexible experience from brands, and they want to be in control of when and how they communicate. This is why call centre agents must be proficient with the latest technology, across multiple digital channels and represent businesses to their best of their ability.

The right kind of call centre career will take an agent on a journey from learning basic customer service techniques through to managing multi-channel communications channels across several verticals. At CCI South Africa we’ve always known our success depends on our agents.

To offer the best career path possible, we’ve developed an industry-leading programme of training and development. Through five levels of career progression, an entry level job at CCI South Africa can mean an endless learning experience that equips you with transferable skills and experience. And while no two call centres are the same, industry-leaders should offer similar career enhancing structures.

What makes a good customer service agent?

A contact centre agent is a professionally trained, multi-faceted employee who can quickly disseminate all kinds of information and assistance while remaining empathetic, professional and personable. This is a big ask, and it takes flexibility, adaptability and an innate sense of wanting to help.

Call centres give customers various communication channels through which they can interact with a business or service. And while the rapid advance in digital transformation within the call centre industry is boosting the use of web chat, asynchronous messaging, emails and social media, many customers still prefer to use the phone. This means flexibility to work with multiple channels, some of which involve cloud-based solutions or AI webchat, and the ability to empathise with customers over their prefered medium, but especially on the phone. According to a report on global customer service from Microsoft, 44% of customers still choose phone service over other channels. Live/web chat came in at 23%.

Do you have the following qualities? If so, a call centre career could be for you

  1. Genuine enthusiasm for solving customer problems

Phone support is still key as customers still expect the personal touch. While AI bots and access to online information is enough for some customer types, others expect a personal service. Call centre agents are problem-solvers who remain committed to making the customer experience better every time. Regardless of whether you work at an in-house call centre or a dedicated, purpose-built contact centre on behalf of partner clients, this drive must be there.

  1. The ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment

The kinds of people who make great customer service agents in call centres are those that thrive within an atmosphere that is buzzing but under control. While contact centres are fast paced, they should never feel stressed in a way that affects the quality of the customer service.

  1. A flexible mindset and willingness to switch tasks

The nature of call centre work means there may be some unpredictable roadblocks along the way. You need to be flexible with workflow and able to handle these, while continuing to perform core duties. This isn’t always easy, but it’s a very satisfying way to work.

  1. An organised mindset

Customers want answers or help fast, which means agents must be quick thinking and very organised. Good call centres will provide the training you need to master the necessary technology. However, before you even apply for a job as a call centre agent, it’s helpful to look into the kinds of tools they use, including ticketing systems, CRMs, help desks and knowledge bases.

You could face up to 50 calls or contacts a day, and it won’t always be possible to resolve them straight away. Some customer queries will need a follow-up that could last for weeks after the first contact. This means it’s essential for agents to be efficient, provide timely updates and manage ongoing cases.

  1. Proactive and forward-thinking

You’re not only dealing with customer issues but solving problems for the businesses you represent. If, for example, you begin to recognise a lot of customer issues related to a specific subject, you should raise them with management. As an agent you are working for both the customer and the business so a problem-solving, proactive mentality will take you far.

  1. Empathy with the customer

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of successful call centre agents is their ability to solve the issue for the customer first. It could be easier and faster to present a short-term sticking plaster solution, but the customer’s long-term needs should take precedence. Customers know the difference between a quick fix and an agent that is helping in a broader way. And this is what produces customer loyalty.

  1. Ability to retain knowledge

Customers do not want to have to repeat their issues. They want fast solutions and consider being forced to go over the problem again and again as a waste of time. Customer service agents should be able to grasp customer problems and what needs to be done the first time they make contact.

  1. Detail orientated

Customers contact call centres for specific issues. It’s not enough to provide them with vague information. Successful call centre agents will pay the closest attention to what the customer needs and work out how to fulfill these needs.

  1. Creative approach to problem solving

You may have to think outside of the box to solve a customer problem. Sometimes a solution just isn’t obvious, and it will be your job as a call centre agent to suggest an alternative.

Is a call centre career for you?

A call centre career will be demanding but it will also be rewarding. You’ll learn something new every day and will find out how well you can deal with challenges. Expect to gain many transferable skills, learn new communication skills and maybe follow a lifelong career.