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Going to be working at a call center. Tips/tricks?

Death of RatsDeath of Rats Registered User regular
edited October 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Tomorrow I start work at a call center for AT&T. I know that call center jobs can be ridiculously bad for one's mental health. Even knowing this, this is the best paying job I've had in years, and I want to do the best I possibly can.

I'm going to be in training for the next 6 weeks, followed by 8 weeks of "on the job" training. I'm wondering, in the meantime, are there any tips or tricks anyone may have who has worked in the field before. To be more specific about the possition, it's with the mobile part of the company, and will be incoming calls only. From what I gathered I'll be expected to be able to handle calls about billing, troubleshooting, and also new accounts.

Any tips?

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  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    Be polite and listen to your caller.

    Other then that I'm sure they will cover almost everything in their training.

    parabol
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  • FallingmanFallingman Registered User regular
    Yeah - it'll be pretty comprehensive.
    Generally, if you make an effort to try to help me out - I'm a happy customer. Thank kind of approach to everything is a great way to work.

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  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    I worked in various call centers for 8? years. Long, painful years. I've worked cable internet, cable tv, pre-paid cell phones, private student loans, satellite internet, cell phone insurance - billing, troubleshooting, activation, replacements - I've done it all.

    - DO NOT take anything personally. People will call you every name in the book, plus a few they made up on the spot. Ignore this. Seriously. I've been called a slutcunt, told that I should die, told that the caller would commit suicide and it would be my fault. People go nuts. IGNORE THIS.

    -People will to scam you for everything they can get. Make notes in the account (as applicable by training and rules at your center) documenting this. Cover your ass.

    - DO NOT get mad. People want you to get mad. Really, they do. Don't do it. Hell, I used to think of it as a game, the calmer I stayed the higher my personal score.

    - People will want the impossible from you. They will act the fool when they don't get it. Roll with it, don't let it get to you. One time I had to stay an hour after the center closed. I was working cell phone insurance. Dude had a phone that was no longer manufactured but that is the only phone he would take. I would have loved to transfer him to a supervisor except I was taking the call as a supervisor. I just rolled with it. Politely as I could I explained they stopped making his phone a year ago and there wasn't any way he was getting another one. For an hour after close.

    I could go on, but it's all going to boil down to "don't take it personally."

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  • KorlashKorlash Registered User
    I hope you have a thick skin. It's amazing the kinds of things you can have people lob at you when things aren't going their way. Hopefully your company is reasonable and will allow you to hang up when customers go over the line.

    Make sure you're multitasking. Have a window open on your computer with any piece of information you might need. Fill out the details as you listen to the call. Make sure you do every little you can to keep your stats up (but don't botch calls).

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  • DeShadowCDeShadowC Registered User regular
    Since you don't have call center experience as a warning, call center jobs can be mentally exhausting. They can make you feel lethargic and tired, where you won't want to do anything outside of work. The best advice I can give you from working at a multitude of call centers over the years, is that its important to not think about work outside of work, and to still go out with friends and have fun.

  • Death of RatsDeath of Rats Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Thanks for the advice so far. I'm thinking the best way for me to think about rude calls are simple, do my job, ignore the comments, and greet rudeness with unwavering professionalism. Working in retail has made it clear to me that when I'm at work helping customers it's best to think of myself as the company, not as me. That way it's easy to go to quitting time without thinking about all the shit from work.

    I had a job at walgreens that I left for this, and that was mentally exhausting. Just standing behind a counter for the most part, with nothing to do besides face products. Far too boring, not even remotely challenging.

    Death of Rats on
  • Penguin_OtakuPenguin_Otaku Registered User regular
    Learn how to quickly build a rapport with your callers. I worked at one for OU more or less begging people for money. While we had a script, it felt a lot more easy to go off that, make it it into a casual conversation and make them feel comfortable with you.

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  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    people are rude. people are mean. people suck.

    And try as you might to ignore the comments, the insults, the abuse that is hurled at you, there are going to be some that just get under your skin and will get you so riled up that you seriously want to hit your monitor.

    Don't do this.

    Force the politeness through your veins and into your voice. And if they are still going, hang up on them.

    There was nothing more shocking to me than the difference between working a call center in the states and working a call center down here in New Zealand. A few months back I had a customer down here call me nearly every insulting word he could think of for an American, all because he didn't pay his bill so his internet was turned off. I took the insults, took the payment, and then passed him on down the line to the cancellation department when he made his wish to cancel known. Shortly after, the supervisors came up to me and asked me why I didn't just hang up on him.

    My training from the states said that unless the abuse was threatening or over the top completely I was not to hang up on the customers. ever.

    you will be abused by customers. There is no getting around it. You are nothing to them but a voice on the line.

    if it's possible for you in this job, have a stress ball or a koosh ball or something on your desk to keep your hands busy. At times, that has saved me more trouble than not.

    Also, keep work at work, and home at home. It's a hard lesson to learn, but one that is vital to your well-being. and the well being of everybody around you.

  • MorblitzMorblitz Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    I used to work at a bet taking call agency. Christ. Everyone is right about the suckitude of abuse. Some guy has 15 complicated bets to make and waits to call a MINUTE before the race starts? Whats that, you couldn't get them all in? FUCK YOU.

    The advice is true, believe me. This is from someone who has yelled at a customer. Don't. Whilst I didn't get into any trouble, and my supervisor was sympathetic, it wasn't a good feeling to know that I let myself get gotten to by some jackass on the phone with a Saturday newspaper, and I quit shortly after.

    That's really the only issue I had with it. Don't let them get to you. Also, don't be the guy that mutes his phone and THEN swears at the customer. I had to put up with that guy sitting next to me every shift. Really distracting. It's the same effect, puts you on the road to jadedness.

    I know this isn't exactly a tip or a trick, but if you're gonna work in that kind of setting it's something you should monitor. The job can be enjoyable and they often pay well, don't let the negatives get to you too badly.

    Morblitz on
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  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Did almost 6 months for AT&T as well almost 5 years ago now but here's what I went through. Just to give you an idea of what you are going to be doing.

    6 week training will be in a classroom, no actual calls just learning systems and how and what they do there. It's the best 6 weeks of pay you'll be getting. They'll be no stress and just getting familiar with things. If you can follow instructions and semi-computer literate, since you're posting on PA, you'll do fine.

    First day of "on the job" training, 20% of the people in your class will quit. By the end of the week, 30-35%. End of the month, 50%. It happens. Call centers have HUGE turnover. Decent pay for little qualifications has EVERYONE applying for these jobs. Some can't get a grasp of the systems, some people can't handle the "stress" (in quotes because it's really not your stress it's AT&T they're pissed at). If you can survive the week, that's basically what you'll be doing day in and day out. You'll get faster, quicker, more in-line with what they want.

    I still remember some of the just crappy stories people tell and some of my stats. And remember for all the abuse, it can be rewarding actually being able to help some people with their problems. I'll leave that for a different thread cuz it's to offtopic.

    Edit - If you have any specific questions/answers, PM me. It sounds EXACTLY what I did (611 support).

    Gilbert0 on
  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    also, get friendly with your union rep.

    I worked (kinda) for AT&T/cingular/AT&T through Verizon many a year ago, and I only did 411, nothing too complicated like 611 or anything like that.

    But let me tell you, god bless that Union and the Union Reps. kept me in a job (my supervisor didn't like me because I happened to be employed around the same time as a lot of bad family stuff happened and so I took time off for it and the union fought for me), and got me the buyout when the company pulled the carpet out from under us (that was AT&T pulling out the carpet mainly).

    And yeah, you can solve problems and people will be grateful and kind. Doing 611 type work for the isp down here in kiwiland, ran into all kinds. the type that just want somebody to talk to. Just remember, not everybody is an asshole. There are some nice ones who just need help.

    But the turnover is crazy high. Keep a strong stomach and you should be dandy.

  • ToxTox I kill threads Registered User regular
    Elin wrote:
    I would have loved to transfer him to a supervisor except I was taking the call as a supervisor.

    I KNEW IT!

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  • V1mV1m Registered User regular
    Tomorrow I start work at a call center for AT&T. I know that call center jobs can be ridiculously bad for one's mental health. Even knowing this, this is the best paying job I've had in years, and I want to do the best I possibly can.

    I'm going to be in training for the next 6 weeks, followed by 8 weeks of "on the job" training. I'm wondering, in the meantime, are there any tips or tricks anyone may have who has worked in the field before. To be more specific about the possition, it's with the mobile part of the company, and will be incoming calls only. From what I gathered I'll be expected to be able to handle calls about billing, troubleshooting, and also new accounts.

    Any tips?


    The fact you're getting 6 weeks of training is slightly encouraging. But yeah, if you're dealing with the general public about billing queries, then it's 99.9% likely going to be horrible. The only real advice I can offer from my call centre days is to try and dissociate yourself while you're at work. Get good at letting the aggro slide off you. Pay close attention to the training they give you about call management (I assume they'll give you call management training), because that stuff will save your ass over and over.

    Also, I found that cycling to and from work helped a surprising amount. Specifically, the cycling home part. When you're cycling, you can't really think about much else, you just have to focus on riding that bike so you put the shittiness of the day out of your head. Plus the physical effort get the adrenaline going. By the time I got home I would usually be feeling a whole lot better than on days I had to get a train home.

    Don't make the mistake that I did; keep looking for a non hellish job. Lining up more work for yourself will be the absolute last thing you'll feel like doing, I know.

  • ShutdownShutdown Registered User regular
    At least one manager is going to ride your ass about KPIs/numbers/stats whatever they decide to call them. Always do enough so that there are no unmanaged fires that can burn you and by all means do as good a job as you can possibly do. Just know that whatever you do, there's going to be someone with a spreadsheet backhandedly-shitting on your for not putting in that extra 2%. If you put in 14 hours one shift they'll give you playful 'jab' you weren't there for 14hrs 25 mins "like Kevin over here, he's going places that guy. You should be more like him."

    Identify those people early and make sure you've done enough to keep them off your radar.

    Also, since you're starting at the bottom tier, if you have an ego keep it in check. You will probably need higher-up people (straight away, team members then tier2s and tier3s). Don't need to kiss their ass, just don't dump problems on them and give them space to get back to you. Saw this a lot at my last job: the people who just flicked emails to upper tiers on their way out the door were classified as a 'low priority' and the people who took the time to explain their problem, ask for help and be reasonable about when they could get that assistance got responses pretty damn quick.

  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    I've done some phone+livechat+email customer service (we were a relatively small team, which meant we had to answer phones at the same time as help multiple customers over livechat.) I eventually got good enough at it that I was able to become the trainer for new recruits (saving me from having to take my own calls/chats, etc.) The place even gave me some training sessions about training other people.

    Anyway, the customers generally loved me, and one of the reasons for that (apart from the fact that I was good with the technical stuff) is that I'm naturally empathic. No, I can't really read customers' emotions like Counselor Troi from Start Trek TNG. Being empathic (and getting the customer to realize it) is actually different. I was lucky to have an instinctive understanding of empathy, but it's actually a skill you can learn.

    Basically, you have to become good at realizing what the customer feels, and try to see their side. Do NOT then get on their side -- you don't have to be sad if the customer is sad, or angry if the customer is angry. That would be sympathy, not empathy. Just try to get a feel for how the customer feels, and then, make sure the customer knows that you understand how they feel. Only after this can you start helping the more emotional customers.

    It basically goes like this:
    1) customer tells you the problem, with all its emotional charge
    2) you realize what the customer feels. Is the customer frustrated at a technical or billing issue? Is the customer angry at not getting the expected service? Is the customer sad about losing some crucial data? Notice that I'm not just giving a simple emotion: I also include the target of the emotion -- which is generally not you. This can help in not taking things personally.
    3) You tell the customer that you understand how he or she feels. But you don't just say "I understand how you feel." like it's a script. You adapt the "empathy formula" to the situation. For instance: "I can understand how this billing issue might cause you frustration" or "I can understand how losing your data can make you sad." Depending on the situation, you can even add "I would feel the same, in your situation." See? You DON'T feel the same, but you're letting the customer understand that you can see the problem from their point of view.
    4) Now that you've acknowledged the customer's emotional state, and their problem, you can now proceed to say what you're going to do to help. For instance, to the frustrated customer, you can then add, "Let's look at your billing history, and see if we can fix this." For the customer who lost his data: "Let me look into the situation, to determine if we have any usable backups."

    The important thing to remember is to acknowledge the customer's emotion and problem, BEFORE trying to fix the problem. If you tried to move straight into fixing that frustrated customer's billing problem (for instance, by starting to read their billing history out loud to the client, explaining things as you go -- assuming that's the proper solution) without first acknowledging the client's emotional state, it is very likely that the customer either won't listen to you, or worse, will keep complaining and may even start insulting you, etc. By showing just a little empathy towards the customer, you bring them over to your side, so they will want to cooperate with you in reaching a solution. This can work wonders in calming an irate customer (you may have to do these 4 steps over and over, if you're facing a hostile customer.

    Obviously, if the customer is in a good mood and is asking for something simple, you can just go "You wish to change the address in your account? Let me help you with that." This is perfectly sufficient. Just be careful not to confuse customers who are just making a routine call, and customers who just happen to be more reserved. If your training is good, you'll learn to recognize the different types of callers, their personality types, etc., which actually helps a lot in figuring out how to deal with each separate customer.

    But just understanding how to be properly empathic goes a long way towards getting the customer over to your side, so you can actually help them.

    One more thing: call centers usually push hard for performance, meaning that you'll likely have a lot of pressure in completing each call in as little time as possible. This can sometimes lead to you always doing the minimum to help the customer, and never being proactive, because it can lead to longer calls. For example, let's say you help a customer with a simple technical issue, and at the same time, you notice another small technical problem which the customer may not have noticed yet. You know that when the customer will notice, it will lead to a new call. Many call center veterans will tell you to leave it alone, since it's not your problem, and bringing it up will negatively affect your stats. Let me just say that, unless you get a specific directive from your trainers or superiors, it's actually better to be pro-active, as long as you pick your fights. If you know that it'll lead to another 30 minutes of customer shouting, it's OK to avoid being proactive, but if you already have the customer on your side, taking a minute or two to address something before it becomes a big issue means that the customer will be even happier, and will likely remember this "favor". In my case, it sometimes led to the customer asking specifically for me (which was rarely feasible, but sometimes still possible, where I worked.)

    Customers who get a good impression during their call are much less likely to be difficult the next time they call, so by doing this, you're helping to reduce the amount of calls, and helping to make future calls easier for you and your colleagues.

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  • FuuFuu Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Get something to DO while you're on the phone. My favorite was to put a rubber band on my hand (kind of like you are a lobster) and just open my hand against the tension. I was surprised how it helped me stay sane. The call center where people yell at you is just stressful and having something you do and focus on while getting yelled at helps you cope (and according to my mom's chiropractor the rubber band thing helps fight carpel-tunnel, dunno how true that is)

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  • Lindsey LohanLindsey Lohan Registered User regular
    The calls can be stressful - but for me the issue has always simply been the one after another nature of the calls. I've been in call centers in different roles for about 9 years now and can tell you the worst is when you're in a job that involves 100+ calls in a day, back to back. You never have a breather and you get to the point where you just dread hitting the auto in button not because of who the caller might be or how angry they might be, but simply because they are your 86th call of the day and you are completely burnt out and exhausted.

    It takes a lot of stamina to work in a busy call center - and to be honest it's one that I couldn't maintain beyond about the 4 year mark - I'm fortunate now to get 30 calls on a busy day and it's much easier in terms of fatigue - I'm crazy busy but it's a good balance of phone/email/project.

    My last tip is to pay attention to everything and learn as much as you can. Call centers are really, really good first steps at most companies because you gain a ton of product knowledge. If an opportunity arises to learn another branch of the business even if it's just to answer different call types, take it. You can build a ton of company knowledge in a call center.

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  • AsiinaAsiina Registered User regular
    You will be surprised by how rude people can be. Even if you have all their information they'll think they are anonymous and will be incredibly hurtful just because you are a voice on the phone and not a real person. They can be, and will be, a total jerk to you.

    That said, it can be rough at first but most people I who endure the first week either forget the insults or else laugh about them in a sorta "oh yeah, you think your call was bad, I had THIS guy!" You CAN'T take it personally in any way. It may sound like people are bringing up the negative side of these jobs, but really this is the only truly stressful part. The job on paper is easy, but you have to mentally prepare yourself for a lot of bad shit coming your way and that is the mentally exhausting part.

  • TheKoolEagleTheKoolEagle Registered User regular
    I wish the best of luck to you, I worked at Best Buy's call center for 6 months, it literally gave me colitis for 4 months.

    It obviously was not something I could handle, and I hope it works out better for you, although I got my new job from being there, and it is awesome.

    most everything I would recommend has already been covered by other people, but I am seconding their advice, and if its something you very much hate, don't be afraid to start looking for new jobs, it took me about 4 months to realize exactly how much I hated the job, and I will say it was the worst job I ever had, even though it was the second best paying.

    Hopefully I didn't discourage too much, I don't exactly have thick skin, and I'm an introverted person so having a pissed off guy screaming at me over the phone broke my will pretty easily

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Well, you are going to be working for AT&T so, best of luck. On the plus side when your company is listed as having some of the worst customer service, as long as you don't cuss the customers out you will probably perform well enough to keep your job. Which really is the last thing you want. Start looking for a real job now. Because the odds are about 3 weeks in you'll be ready to burn the place down.


  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Well, seems we've pretty much got the "Don't take this shit personally" covered fairly well, so I don't have to go over that.

    Some other general advice:

    Get a water bottle or two (I like the Nalgene bottles you can get at most sporting good stores). Fill them 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full and put them your home freezer. Fill them with water the rest of the way when you get to work and enjoy ice cold water for your entire shift. When you get home, refill it with water and back in the freezer it goes. Using two will let your rotate them or give you a backup if you forget to fill and freeze one. Trust me, if you're on phones you'll want water or something to drink because nothing dries the throat out like talking to stupid people.

    If you're ever on a conference call, or a bridge, or anything like that make sure your phone is muted before you make a snide sarcastic comment. In my job we refer to this as Rule 1.

    I'd suggest getting a note pad for taking notes/doodling. Same reason as Fuu's rubber band suggestion, but you'll likely be less tempted to chuck a notepad across the room then shoot someone with a rubber band.

    Try restarting your PC before you call your IT guys saying "it doesn't work". Seriously, it fixes 90% of the problems you'll see and the first thing the IT guy is going to ask is if you restarted it. (Disregard this if you're trainer tells you specifically not to restart your PC.)

    Limit soda intake, especially in the center. Not only will it make you have to pee frequently (which'll hurt your numbers), you're not exactly burning huge calories sitting on the phone.

    Don't leave anything you like unattended on your desk. While it'd be nice to be able to trust your co-workers not to walk off with your stuff, it's not realistic given the turn over at a call center.

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  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    are you a man?
    Spoiler:
    or a woman?
    Spoiler:

    My mother, sister, and older brother have all worked a variety of call centers and have corroborated the above. I started at a call center once, I quit after half an hour of my initial training because fuck those jobs. All power to you if you can stand it though.

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  • Jimmy KingJimmy King Registered User regular
    Morblitz wrote:
    Also, don't be the guy that mutes his phone and THEN swears at the customer. I had to put up with that guy sitting next to me every shift. Really distracting. It's the same effect, puts you on the road to jadedness.
    Plus that mute button doesn't always work right. Back when I was doing call center work I was around a few times when someone thought the phone was muted, said something rude/vulgar/etc about the customer, and then discovered the mute button did not work right and the customer heard every word they said. If this happens and you're lucky, your manager understands the frustration and rage these jobs cause, calms the customer for you, and has a good laugh at you and suggests that you wait until you've actually hung up before commenting on the customer. If you're not lucky, you get fired.

  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    Couple tips for being successful in a call center, having worked in some for a number of years successfully.

    Have a positive attitude, even when you are faking it. nobody likes a grump.

    Don't gossip. it never works in your favor, and you never know who is listening. If people gossip around you, just don't participate.

    Bring some stuff in to decorate your cubicle, photos, some knickknacks, nothing big. but generally people who work in a barren cubicle are viewed as un-invested in their job.

    Don't gripe about having to do your job. Call centers are full of miserable people who hate their jobs but won't leave them because they have no motivation. Its super easy to get into this mode, and it will make you miserable. You are there for however long they need you and you may as well make the best of it.

    Hit your metrics, when you go in for coaching, ask how you can improve, and be receptive to the coaching advice.

    Also, if you have the opportunity, make nice with your managers manager. no matter what level you are at.

    If there is a type of call, or a subject that you don't like getting, because you are not good at it. Then become an expert at that material. not only will you no longer be unhappy to take that call, you will no be a subject matter expert and everyone will look to your for help on a subject that they almost assuredly also hate.

    If you are a positive person, who hits their goals and is on time for shifts and doesn't avoid calls, then you will make your manager happy. If you have a happy manager, then you will have an easy life.

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Just... Just, the worstRegistered User regular
    Stand up every once in a while or be prepared for some serious leg problems

    I mean you're going to want to stand up anyway but listen to your legs and make sure you take your breaks when you get them, don't try to be the superhero that doesn't get his 15 minute break because you want to impress the boss

    It's important for both your physical and mental well-being that you go outside and walk around the building for a while while you drink your coffee or something

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  • mere_immortalmere_immortal So tasty!Registered User regular
    The best thing I could suggest is that when you end a call just forget everything about it, even if the person on the other end has said they are going to sue you or you are useless or whatever.

    As long as you do your job properly and follow procedures, as stupid and pointless as they can sometimes seem, you will be fine. Try and learn as much as you can and then your managers will tend to take notice when people come to you for advice which could lead to a coaching or training role surprisingly soon.

    And as people have said take nothing personally. The general public will be more abusive because they aren't talking to you personally, they are talking to the company and there is no face there in front of them.

    However when you get a friendly and responsive person make the most of it. Make conversation in downtime and be their best friend and you'll get some personal feedback which sounds lame but always feels good in the environment.

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  • japanjapan Registered User regular
    Call centres frequently measure performance on counter-intuitive metrics. This can be endlessly frustrating in certain instances because they can encourage behaviours that seem contrary to the delivery of good customer service. Example: I worked at a place that was big on the ratio of call duration to "wrap" time (the time you spend finishing up when there is nobody on the phone but you are not free to take another call). The upshot of this is that your stats looked better if you came up with crappy reasons to keep the caller on the line while you did your stuff, up to and including just sticking them on hold and not coming back to them until you had finished.

    Consider what is actually being measured when the performance stats are compared and make sure that you're not sabotaging yourself by going about your job in a way that makes you look considerably worse than the other guy, even if it seems like a better way to get the job done.

    It is extremely unlikely you will be able to persuade anyone above you that the performance metrics are flawed. Try not to get too wound up about it if you are effectively being asked to go about a task in a way that seems to have some glaring negatives.

    If you get really, really lucky you may find yourself working for someone that is willing to consider factors other than the raw stats when your performance is evaluated, but don't assume that anybody will, especially if you work somewhere with a lot of staff churn and frequent reorganisations.

  • KarrmerKarrmer Registered User regular
    edited October 2011
    Don't get so freaked out, I feel like a lot of people here are really exaggerating the "stress" of this job. Needing a stress ball? Jesus, it's just a call center. When people yell and scream and call you names, hit mute and laugh at how ridiculous they are, and then proceed to be extremely nice because you know that just rages them even more... then they generally realize how ridiculous they are and apologize.

    Eat well. Bring a quality lunch and snacks, don't be the type that just gorges on awful food every day and gains enormous amounts of weight due to the sedentary nature of the job and excessive eating. Stand up - a decent call center should allow for your entire workstation to rise, allowing you to stand for the whole shift if you'd like. I'd suggest standing for at least 10 or more minutes out of each hour, it really helps.

    Mainly just chill out and don't let anything stress you out, there really isn't any reason to be stressed anyway.

    Karrmer on
  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    Karrmer wrote:
    Eat well. Bring a quality lunch and snacks, don't be the type that just gorges on awful food every day and gains enormous amounts of weight due to the sedentary nature of the job and excessive eating. Stand up - a decent call center should allow for your entire workstation to rise, allowing you to stand for the whole shift if you're like. I'd suggest standing for at least 10 or more minutes out of each hour, it really helps.

    THIS

    If there is free pop, dont take it, eat healthy, get up and move.

  • Death of RatsDeath of Rats Registered User regular
    Just got back from my first day of training, and didn't really accomplish or learn anything. Everyone was too busy wasting the trainer's (and my) time by asking pointless questions in different ways, to the point where we didn't get to our job part of the training at all. Maybe this is the way the trainer usually does stuff, gets all the obvious questions out of the way on the first day.

    I did get some good idea about the work environment though. Everyone seems to be very nice, and it seems there's a good team atmosphere. Which I can only imagine is good in this field, nothing worse than getting off a bad call only to be surrounded by grumpy people. It really seems like the only thing I need to worry about is not letting calls get to me. I'm good with technology, good explaining complicated billing stuff, good learning new information quickly... I possess all the qualities that this job seems to require, it's just basically finding out if I can handle the bad calls with a bit of levity.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava One day, I will be able to say to myself "I am beautiful and I am perfect just the way I am"Registered User regular
    Oh. Smoking.

    I don't know how you are or much about you but smoking is (or maybe was) a BIG thing in the call centers I worked in. It was simply the way to get out and away from the building, walk around in the air, and sometimes kick the building out of frustration.

    If you are susceptible to smoking or other addictive personality traits, this is something you can watch out for.

    Also, definitely agree with the standing and moving around while on the phone if possible. see if you can get an adjustable desk or something. You will gain weight at a call center if you're not careful.

  • DhalphirDhalphir don't you open that trapdoor you're a fool if you dareRegistered User regular
    1) Smile when you're on the phone. You'll look stupid, but it helps keep you in a positive state of mind. There is nothing worse as a customer than speaking to a BORED customer service rep. I know you have a boring job. That doesn't make it any less unpleasant talking to someone who is bored. Try to SOUND reasonably upbeat. Smiling helps with this.

    2) repeat the customer's name at every opportunity. Calling a customer by name whenever you address them makes it much more pleasant dealing with them, and repeating their name helps you remember it. If someone calls up and says "hi, my name is bob, I have problem X" say "Hi bob, how are you today?". Then "Alright Bob, lets see what we can do with your problem"

    Don't overuse it, but do make it clear that you know their name and that you are remembering it. It makes the whole call a lot more pleasant.

    3) Most people are as pleasant as you let them be. From my experience working in a sales team that deals mostly with inbound calls, you get three main types of people. Jerks, nice people, and average people. Using numbers pulled out of my butt, 10% of people are nice, 10% are jerks, and 80% are average people.

    Jerks will be jerks no matter what you say to them, so may as well be nice to them, as it helps your own mood even if they remain jerks. Nice people will be nice no matter what, so be nice to them too! And average people will tend to reflect your own mood - if you're happy and helpful, they'll be reasonable, but if you are not providing decent service to them they can turn bad very quickly. Its all what you make of it.

    Tube-san wrote:
    I apologise for my rudeness desu.
  • AspectVoidAspectVoid Registered User regular
    My first job out of college was a call monkey. Here are somethings I learned:

    * Don't take anything the caller says personally. People don't call in to a call center because things are going well. They call in because something is broken or not working, and they are angry and frustrated about it. You need a thick skin and the ability to brush things off. Its the worst job in the world if you take things personally.,

    * Be polite without being condescending. Calls are recorded, and if you treat the person on the other line as a moron, they will call back and complain, and your calls will be looked into. Its also the only way you'll get an occasional thank you after you resolve an issue, and that can make the difference between a bad day and a good day.

    * Be intelligent. Seriously, there is nothing that the person on the other line, your coworkers, and your boss hate more than dealing with an idiot. It ends up making more work for more people and will lead you to being fired.

    * Find out what your bosses want out of you. Some bosses will want you to get on and off the calls as fast as possible. Others will want the people calling in to feel special. Tailor your call answering style to what the bosses desire. Its the only way to find a potential raise/promotion/bonus.

    * Keep a Nerf Gun in your car. Seriously. There will be days when at the end you'll just want to shoot yourself. A Nerf gun will help with that.

  • MadpoetMadpoet Registered User regular
    The voice on the other end is not a real person. Do not let anything it says affect you, whether it's a sob story or profanity.

    It's not your money. If the caller wants $5 and you can give it to them and shut them up? Fine. They're scamming you and you can't find a reason to reject them? Whatever. Same the other way... their daughter ran up $1000 in text fees, and policy says you can't help them? Sucks to be them, next call.

    You are not a real person, you are a line on a spreadsheet. Make the numbers on your line match what the people with money want them to be. By any means you can get away with. Most places come up with a baseline happiness index that charts certain things you're supposed to say and how bad the observers hemorrhoids are that day. Say the words, then get the caller off the line asap. You don't want the customer to ask for you by name, because that's a pain in the ass for everyone involved, and those types get chatty and kill your metrics.

    If the operator on the inevitable TTY call has a shitty accent and won't repeat what she's said because she insists you only speak directly to the deaf caller, insult her as much as possible, because fuck her.

    Don't talk about work with significant others. Should you not have a significant other, be aware that while your call center may have lots of members of the appropriate sex looking to work off stress, they are all just as much of a ticking timebomb as yourself. Use caution.

  • Al_watAl_wat Registered User regular
    Keep sending out resumes while you work there.

  • l3lasphemer69l3lasphemer69 Registered User regular
    My best advice, develop a thick skin... quickly. I worked a called center for almost 2years, and the sheer amount of abuse and stupidity on the other end of the line is maddening. You are going to be a whipping post 90% of the time, you will probably get some good calls, but the majority, will be of the bad kind.

    Good luck though, hope it works out for ya

  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    Oh yeah, Training is usually terrible. Its boring and people like to waste time. However, it ends eventually and you get to go do your job so just suck it up for the 6 weeks or so with the knowledge that life is better on the other side.

    As for all the people that call in and are mean to you, that's typically a minority. Unless you work for a company that does abusive things to its customer base. Just be patient with them, let them get their yelling all out and do everything in your power to help them.

    If you are the type of person that can't handle being in a call center, then see if you can move on into transaction processing as soon as you can. Some people are just not cut out for it, and that's fine, move on.. don't let it kill you.

    Do your best not to get jaded. You will find yourself working with people that have let themselves become jaded, and they sigh when the customer asks for help, and they bemoan how ridiculous the job is, and how management doesn't know what they are doing and blah blah blah... they are miserable. Don;t be like them.

    Working in a call center can be fun, you get to talk to lots of different people, you get to actually help out some people that will appreciate your help. And you get to experience some crazy things from insane people that call in, which can be really funny.

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    Learn the phonetic alphabet, and learn military time, amongst all the other things that everyone else here has said.

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  • LankyseanLankysean Registered User regular
    Based on working in a retail environment:

    Most people suck.

    98.9999999% of the time if there is a problem with peoples bills, it's because either they used more minutes/texts/web/international calls then they are allotted OR they never paid the last (or the one before that) bill. In either case, they know it's their fault and they will fight you tooth and nail to convince you otherwise. Most customers will NEVER take the blame for their own idiocy.

    Make sure you notate the account about everything: Pricing, expiration dates, findings, dates, tone of voice... literally EVERYTHING. I've have had my job saved a number of times by notes I've left on peoples accounts... Time stamps are awesome.

    From time to time you will get a nice customer, enjoy this. It won't happen often but generally it'll make your day... at least till the next pillock ruins it.

    Good luck!

  • Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    One other thing I thought of. Just because the customer said another agent said something, doesn't mean it's so. I could call in and say the last person I talked to said I only had to pay $1 a month for 30 years. SUUUURE they did.

    Review the history. They could just hang up and try again until they get an agent to do what they want. Say, "Just one second while I bring up your account" when in fact their account is up and you familiarize yourself with what they have done the last couple months.

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