Getting a Call Center Operator Job

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Traditionally, call centers have been offices in buildings equipped with the necessary technology to field all kinds of incoming communications. Most companies and corporations have their own call centers for technical and other customer service support. There are government call centers that provide assistance and information for government agencies, helpline call centers, bank call centers, brand product call centers, and more. A more modern form of the traditional call center is the online, or virtual, call center which operates ''without walls,'' so to speak. Such a call center is essentially a team of operators, or call center agents, from many different locations who log in via the Internet and also receive incoming calls in this way.

Increasingly, this communication function is being outsourced by many companies to other, mostly South Asian, countries where operators are paid much less than their North American or European counterparts. This means that there is a mushrooming growth of call centers throughout countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and others where multinational corporations can purchase labor for much cheaper than in the UK or US.

As with any other service or company, call centers need the usual army of trained and dedicated employees, as well as managers, assistants, administrators, and other staff. Call center jobs are not too hard to find and are even easier to prepare for at the interview stage. In fact, finding a job as a call center operator is getting easier and easier as traditional call centers give way to virtual call centers that exist almost entirely online. Looking for a job in a virtual call center can lead to a virtually guaranteed paycheck every month!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. You first have to decide whether you want to work at a traditional call center or work from home at an online call center. There are pros and cons to both options, and weighing them up honestly in your mind is important before going out to find a call center job.

Working at a call center itself means you don't need to buy any kind of sophisticated equipment or software that may be in use, and you also get to know your co-workers and bond with them. However, it can also mean significant fuel costs from getting to and from the center, not to mention complications in simply getting to work in bad weather. Working from home, meanwhile, is convenient and comfortable and doesn't incur any fuel costs. The downside is that if the Internet stops working for whatever reason, or if there is a blackout in your neighborhood, then ''getting to work'' can itself be an inconvenience.

A job in either type of call center, however, follows the same basic principles and requires the same basic skill set. A good command of English, excellent communication skills, a great service attitude, and even, on occasion, the ability to fake other accents. For example, when applying for a job at a traditional call center, you are most likely to be asked about all of the above abilities during your interview. Questions about previous client or customer care experience, your ability to work in a team, use a computer, the Internet, and MS Office will all be asked, along with more general stuff about your hobbies, interests, favorite TV shows, and whether or not you even know what a call center is.

The main reason they ask about hobbies and the like is because most call centers are about generating revenue, which is done largely by keeping existing customers and enlisting new ones. And the best way to engage in this kind of proactive customer care is by relating to the customer. So, if you can talk the customers' language and understand them, their interests, and their needs, then you'll be doing your job right. This is where the call center manager comes in. As a call center manager, you have much more responsibility in terms of keeping your staff on their toes, keeping them up-to-date on customer care techniques, and making sure they are always doing their personal best to keep the customer satisfied.

The two best ways to find jobs at call centers depend on the kind of call center you want to join. At a traditional center, your most viable option for getting the job you want is through word of mouth. It is best, then, if you know somebody who is already working, or has worked, at the call center you want to join and, more importantly, is or was considered a good worker there. This is just a foot-in-the-door strategy, of course, to get to the interview stage — which is where you can really impress them — and works especially well for bank call centers. For banks, it is essential to keep their customers happy, so you can expect to be trained well and paid well. You simply have to demonstrate an ability to speak English fluently, communicate effectively, and think on your feet. A quick learner will always be welcome in any organization.

For a virtual call center, your best bet is applying online through online job sites and job databases (which are like the Internet's version of newspaper classifieds), and by targeting specific call centers that you may know of. If you can tell a company that you are applying to them specifically for such-and-such reason, it will make your application all the stronger. You can then expect an interview online, through VoIP services, and a short test as well. This is done in order to ensure that both you and the equipment you're using to field calls are up to the job.
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