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Call center employment is one of the most common types of office positions available for hourly employees. The main goal of a call center is to produce sales and troubleshoot various customer issues. Call center employment can be very stressful and is usually in a fast-paced, high-demand environment.
There are two basic forms of call center employment, outbound and inbound. Most employees prefer to work in an inbound call center whenever possible. In this case, the calls come into the call center. Therefore, those who are calling are doing so of their own volition, which can make the initial parts of the conversation easier. Outbound call centers usually focus on sales or some other form of marketing promotion. The calls may be cold calls, which are significantly more difficult, or may be generated through some type of lead.
For most job hunt situations, the most common call center jobs will be in the area of sales. This is common simply because there is so much turnover in a call center sales environment. Entry-level call center employment focusing on sales is very easy to obtain. In some cases, the jobs will be hourly. Others will be base pay along with commission. A few may be 100-percent commission. This will normally be discussed during a job interview.
Sales may be a particularly difficult type of call center employment simply because there are targets that will need to be met. These targets will usually not only include the number of calls that should be made during the day, but also sales targets. Those who are able to produce should be rewarded accordingly. Top producers usually get more hours, better bonuses, higher commissions or even higher base salaries.
Call center employment can either be obtained directly through working with a company or through a job agency or temp agency. In some cases, the type of work offered will be nothing more than a part-time job or temp job. The temporary job, depending on performance and business, could lead to more permanent employment. Using a temp agency helps the company see which workers are the most desirable.
Traditionally, call center employment opportunities are numerous. However, there are certain things that can increase your chances of landing the job, or at least getting an interview. This includes noting any sales or customer service experience on the job application. Those who have some background in these areas are likely to be more attractive to an employer. Another big plus is previous experience in a call center environment.
I've been hearing about home based call center employment, but I haven't figured out who to contact about it. What I've heard is that some companies, usually the kind that take reservations or sell products online, will train people to answer incoming calls and enter the information into a computer. The employee's home essentially becomes a customer service call center.
One selling point about virtual call center employment is the flexibility of working hours. A stay-at-home parent can decide to plug in a telephone headset and log onto the company's reservation system or whatever. From that point on, outside calls get routed to that number and the call handler walks customers through the process. If the call handler wants to do something else, he or she simply logs out and decides when to return to work. It sounds like a great deal to me, if only I knew how to apply for the position.
My sister works at a customer service call center for a computer company, and she told me the hardest thing for her was working irregular shifts. She would work first shift hours for a few weeks, then get assigned to overnight shifts for two months sometimes. If the product is sold worldwide, there is no such thing as a slow shift. If it's the middle of the night in the US, it's still morning somewhere else. She said the third shift often stayed the busiest.
According to my sister, call center employees can be monitored by their supervisors at any time. There may be an official process for handling a troubleshooting call, for example, and the call handler needs
to stick to that script even if the customer wants to talk about other things. There may be a lot of down time while a fix is in progress, so the call handler needs to be courteous but not too friendly. Supervisors will often critique these calls and explain how they could have been handled better. Almost everything is recorded.
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