From the very beginning, the call center life has had a bad reputation for being stressful and soul-killing. While the stereotypes about call centers are often exaggerated, one thing is for sure: being a call center agent is challenging, especially if you want to be really good at it and thrive in this environment.
You not only have to hit your KPIs, but also be tech-savvy, flexible and patient. Let’s face it: call center life is not easy.
To help you out, be sure to read (and follow) these seven handy life hacks that will definitely help you outshine your peers while making your call center career progress.
1. Break the negative stereotype
People’s negativity towards call center jobs is rooted in long-established stereotypes connected with call centers themselves. But, if you work in the industry, you know there is much more to call centers than people think. So why not share your opinions with the world?
Rather than feeling uncomfortable by your call center agent job just because of the stereotypes associated with it, try and break the stereotype by educating other people about your job. For example, tell them about the skills your job requires, and how many issues you resolve during an average day. By having a positive attitude and knowing the value of your work, you will feel motivated to improve your performance and provide a great example to your peers.
2. Absorb knowledge
In a perfect world, a good call center agent always has the right answer to every question. But as it is not a perfect world, there will always be some customers who ask the unexpected or impossible, so try and make it your priority to absorb as much information and knowledge you can, whenever you can. Whether from your supervisor or your colleagues, always be ready to learn new things.
Learning your call center scripts by heart is a great first step, but that’s only the beginning. Stay updated on as many projects as possible, even if you’re only working on some of them. Be the one who delivers the knowledge and help their peers in difficult situations. Take any insights you have on your working environment to management, and they will quickly begin to see you a valuable asset to the organization.
As we already talked about in a previous blog post, it’s definitely not easy to ladder up in a call center, but with the attitude above you will easily be able to stand out from the crowd and stay ahead of the competition.
3. Always be polite and helpful – even with rude customers
Customer service is all about helping people, so it’s no surprise that politeness is one of the most important characteristics of a successful call center agent. Agents deal with many calls during an average day, and while some of the customers are a pleasure to talk with, there will always be upset customers on the other side of the line being rude, often without any particular reason.
In such situations, don’t forget, the customer is not mad at you, they’re mad at the company you represent. Also, if the customer knows that you’re trying your best to help, the chances are likely that it will calm them down.
So, try and resist the urge to respond to them in a similarly angry way. Instead, remain calm at all times (make it your challenge for the day), build rapport with them, and offer constructive and positive advice, rather than criticism. For more details on this, check out our pro tips on how to handle incoming calls in a professional way.
Remaining angry will, by contrast, not make your manager happy, as they won’t want to hear that you act as badly as some of your customers. Besides, you’ll be in a bad mood for the rest of the day, which will negatively affect your performance for the rest of the day. Trust me, it’s not worth it.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself
It’s part of every call center agent job to deal with (often angry) complaining customers. And unfortunately, customers often say nasty things to poor call center agents. So, whether you like it or not, if you work as a call center agent, you have to be prepared for such situations and learn how to handle them with ease.
In addition, even the most experienced agents can get into a situation where they simply cannot find the solution to a problem. This will probably happen to you as well, and even worse, you may make a misguided decision that eventually escalates into a bigger problem. Well, everyone learns best through their mistakes, so it’s important to not be too hard on yourself.
In both cases, don’t forget you’re only human, so don’t be afraid to turn to your colleagues or supervisor for help, to make sure that next time you’ll know how to approach such problematic issues.
5. Energize your work environment
Like it or not, you spend third of your life at work, so why not take the time to spruce up your work desk? There are tons of great sites out there full of office desk decoration ideas – just visit Pinterest, for example, for some office inspiration.
In particular, employees tend to place personal stuff, such as a family photo or mascot, on their desks. And don’t forget, if your desk is too empty, management might think you’re not engaged enough with the company. So, why not show them that you care about the place you work at?
As well as your desk, your office environment also doesn’t have to look plain and boring. After you spruced up your desk, you can even share some office decoration ideas with your peers. It’s a great team building activity and will liven up your call center life.
If you’re working in an open office and simply can’t focus on your work, check out this infographic, and find out how you can survive and thrive there.
6. Make call center life fun
Who said working at a call center can’t be enjoyable? Well, there are plenty of ways to make every day just that little bit more interesting.
For example, you’re on the phone with people all day long, so chances are you’ll deal with a lot of weird calls. Collect some of the funniest calls you’ve had, and (making sure you are not crossing the line of professionality) share them with your peers.
Besides having a good laugh together, it’s one way to turn a negative call into a positive experience, and it’s also a great way to break the ice with your call center team.
7. Nail your tools
Call center software can include plenty of cool features that make your and your team’s life a lot less frustrating on a daily basis. It’s not a coincidence that making (and receiving) phone calls was one of the first things computers let us automate.
Among many practical features, we’re more than happy to list these examples:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
An excellent tool that let’s you automate partial or whole conversations, be it for customer service, or even for sales. Inbound IVR let’s people pick topics and give important information prior to being connected to an agent. Outbound IVR, on the other hand, can send automated offers to your prospects which can simply lead to sales, or at least get people familiar with the proposal.
A call center system can easily automate who and when can pick up the phone, as well as the whole process related to it. Skill-based routing and VIP queues can make the whole experience a lot smoother for all callers, especially if you sync ACD with IVR.
Hitting voicemail is arguably the most frustrating thing call center professionals encounter on a daily basis (right after talking to rude clients). This can be alleviated to some degree through a voicemail detection system that analyzes patterns and distributes calls differently depending on the recognition.
More HR topics for call center professionals
Here at VCC Live we’ve worked hard supporting call center professionals for more than a decade which helps us share useful tips on how to thrive in this (tough) environment. Be sure to read the following guides about about surviving a night shift at a call center, as well as about the power of “positive attitude” in customer service
And to better understand your team, read about typical the most typical character traits among call center personalities.
Explore VCC Live’s library of free call center courses
One other way of making your team achieve more is by finding some relevant training. This doesn’t necessarily need to be done directly by supervisors and managers.
If you’re looking to strengthen your agents’ knowledge, be sure to access our free education resources where experts from VCC Live share their expertise to help you succeed. Signing up is not required.
Here’s a handpicked list of courses you might want to check out: