Call Center Employee (Retail)

Call Center Employee (Retail)

Call Center Junkie

7 Years Experience

St Joseph, MO

Male, 27

I have been working in the Call Center retail Industry in the Sales and Customer Service aspect for 7 years. In the retail part, i have handled everything from tv and internet service through cell phones and beyond. I enjoy what I do because I get to talk to new people every day from all over the country and the world. Ask me anything, while i'll never claim to have seen and done it all, I have enough experience that I can usually figure it out if I don't already know it.

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23 Questions


Last Answer on April 13, 2015

Best Rated

What's the craziest story you've heard of a phone rep being rude or unprofessional to a caller?

Asked by Elise over 9 years ago

Well, I must say some of the experiences that have been in the news about comcast and the experience of their customers has been pretty intense. Having worked for a cable company that is a tleast putting an effort in to make sure the customer service experience is good even if the pricing and other issues remain, I feel horrible for the people that have to deal with them. If given the opportunity, I'd definately overhaul the customer experience with comcast.

I will say I once had to fire an agent because he was making sexual innuendos to call female caller. She was married and her father was a supervisor within my office... It was a pretty epic fail.

I also have sat in as a witness on the termination of some reps where they were in more of a collections type role and were being very aggressive, to the point of making empty threats of legal and financial actions against a customer. Not only is this illegal, but obviously, its extremely unprofessional. 

The one that stands out in recent memory, the customer was 10 days late on a payment. She had called in to make payment arrangements. He was telling her she was a low life. She was going to be facing wage garnishments and possible jail time. All over a cell phone bill. (this obviously wasn't the case) The agent worked for me and we weren't even in the collections department. I assumed the call, set up the arrangement and made sure the customer was aware that it was not acceptable for this treatment she recieved and that I would deal with it. The agents termination was in process before I finished the call.

You should never, as a customer, get harassed or abused by a phone rep. It is illegal for any company to claim legal action is getting taken when they aren't able to or will not be doing so. It is also illegal for anyone to call you claiming to be a legal representative of a company when that is not what they really are. Even if they are a collections company.

If you ever encounter this, report the company to the FCC- get the date and time of the call, the agents name, the agents ID number. As much info as possible. That company can face very hefty fines, possibly getting closed, for offenses like this. You always have rights as a caller. Don't let someone take them from you.

Why are most "you are on hold" and automated-phone-tree recorded voices female?

Asked by Sharif over 9 years ago

I can't say for sure but my assumption is that for most people, a female voice is more appealing and relaxing. So with that being the case, holding for 20 minutes is better with a female voice telling you that your call is important then a male from a psycology stand point.

The average major company only talks to around 10% of its customers. (This was from a study in 2010 or 2011) Meaning the ones who are having the problems are the ones calling in; (except in the sales capacity) so they want you to be calm when u get to the agent.

Great question though!

How much do overseas call center reps get paid, and do you think it's just a matter of time before all U.S. companies move their customer support overseas?

Asked by Beisbol over 9 years ago

I don't think any intelligent company should move their service completely overseas. I see the benefits and think they do have some purpose. But to completely move services overseas would be bad for the economy and very bad PR. Companies do everything they can to avoid the press finding out when they send jobs overseas, its bad for business.

As far as pay, it's comparable to what we make, meaning most are still on the lower end of their middle class and up but the reason its cheaper is culture and cost of living. Then the business side you throw in tax benefits and facilities cost, it has its purpose. Especially for companies that close the american offices on holidays. They can keep the phones staffed and the money coming in but the Americans get their holiday time and the Americans (unknowingly) get the brunt of the traffic during the holiday times of the overseas couterparts

If I ask to speak to a supervisor, are you required to transfer me to one?

Asked by Wags15 over 9 years ago

That's a trick question. The most accurate answer is, not immediately. At least not in my experience.

The reality of the call center industry is, most front line reps (the ones on the phone) could dance circles around the supervisors when it comes to policy knowledge. My current supervisor has over 15 years experience in the call center industry in various positions and types of calls. She started after i did with the company i'm currently at, with less training on the policies. 

While that's not ideal to us as reps, supervisors are really more for the reps. They are the baby sitters if you will. My supervisor has, and still will on occasion, ask me what the policy is that a customer is disputing when she takes a call from me.

Who would you rather speak with me or her? She is a really good person, and will agree with you that i can be a jerk. But the reality is, she will back me 99.99% of the time.

I tell you that to tell you this:

Our job is to resolve your issue in one call. No matter what business sector. Whether it's technical, financial, medical, legal, or any other line of business; our job is to make sure you don't have to call back unless absolutely necessary. 

For several companies, this is one of the metrics they base the agents performance reviews and bonuses on. The reasoning for this is simple. If they take care of your issue the first time, the call volume is lower so they spend less in staffing. 2. you are a happier customer. The fact that resolving your issue correctly the first time effects their money, the agents have all the incentive they need to make sure you don't need to call back in.

So when you ask for a supervisor, my job is to first confirm the reason. Second, it's to tell you exactly what the supervisor will say and inform you of that fact, making sure you understand, it's usually a waste of time to go to that level. However, if you still want to speak with a supervisor, THEN we facilitate the supervisor hand off unless the supervisor gives us something different to tell the customer. (not impossible, but not unheard of)

The average training (in my experience) for a call center rep is 6-8 weeks. Most supervisors that don't start as an agent with that company, go through less then half the training an agent goes through because the company is focused on getting them up to speed on the HR part of their job.

Does that all make sense?

Is there much difference between callers in different industry sectors? Like are users calling about their Internet service better/worse than callers about phone service, appliance repair, etc?

Asked by dan79 over 9 years ago

It really depends on the part of the country and the issue. I will say that callers about cell phone issues and internet issues are usually the worst. Because of how technology based our society has become, most people place too much reliance on those two services so if one goes out, they feel like they are cut off from the rest of the world. 

I would say if i had to pick one though, cell phone users are typically the worst. I remember one customer I spoke with who was crying when she called in and it took me ten minutes to figure out what the issue really was because I couldn't understand her. Her service wasn't working and it was the end of the world because she had been excluded from some party that she "NEEDED" to be at. The reality of the problem? She had accidentally turned airplane mode on and that's why she wasn't getting any calls or able to make any.

Do you think most CS reps think of it as their long-term career or just something temporary? How about you? Is it intellectually stimulating enough for you in the long run?

Asked by Snooper over 9 years ago

To be honest, when i started in this industry, it was a paycheck until i decided what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Having still been undecided in what I want to do with my life, I have continued to atleast better myself in the industry I do work in, so that hopefully i will come across something that will stimulate me long term. I enjoy the person to person interaction but I do not feel this is something (for me) that is a lifetime career. I still have yet to meet one person that does. Everyone that I have come into contact with in my work has fallen into the position because they needed a job and just never left because of one reason or another. Being a phone rep for the rest of your life (in most business sectors) doesn't pay even to the middle of the middle class and I have a wife who is a stay at home mother for our son so we definitely struggle financially. Getting into management does provide a pay increase but it definitely lacks the mental stimulation i'm looking for as well. So while I will definitely try to advance my career in this industry so that if nothing else i have the management experience on my resume when I do find what I want to do with my life, I have no intention of staying for the rest of my professional life.

I've heard that a lot of startups are hiring really well-educated college grads and paying them a lot, reasoning that customer service is often a client's most lasting impression of a brand. What do you think, and is it something you see spreading?

Asked by Brooke over 9 years ago

I have heard of this, and I'm glad you asked!

In my first supervisor position, i was working for a cell phone company and I hired a young man who was 26 and had a bachelors in business management. I was 21 and had been in the industry for 1.5 years (ish) and had been a manager at a restaurant before that. He didn't make it through training. He was so knowledgeable he wasn't able to change to doing things the way the company did and he was very difficult to try and help develop because he felt his degree made him in a higher position over myself and the other supervisors. He was, by definition, overqualified to sell cell phones. Weird, right?!

Having a degree in any field is a fantastic accomplishment. I'm working on one right now. But without the work experience in our industry, its a major shock and few can handle it. A young lady i worked with until recently left the company because despite having an accounting degree and us working with loan applications, she felt her knowledge wasn't being utilized to its potential. She was bored.

I think it has potential in certain lines of business (Google and Amazon are probably big companies taking advantage of the college grads) but most businesses, this would cause more harm then good in my opinion. The term "data dumping" or overloading a customer with information is generally more harmful then helpful in our industry for one simple reason. Time is money. The second cell phone company I worked for found that an average call at Resolve the issue, move on to the next. That's what we do. The more we talk, the more issues WE create.

Do you think phone reps in outsourced call centers are worse, the same, or better than US-based reps? It's annoying when you get the guy with a thick Indian accent named "Peter", but do you think they're equally competent or even moreso?

Asked by Indy1 over 9 years ago

This is a difficult question. Some reps from other countries, yes, they are horrible. But that is equally so for US reps. In certain countries in that part of the world, people have to be more educated (i'm talking a bachelors degree or more) to work in a call center and the pay is less then what it is here in the US, hence the draw for companies looking to save money. I will say that, in my experience, the reps I have talked to in the Philippines are a little harder to deal with then reps from India.

We have all had an experience with "Peter" and the best thing I can say is to work through it the best you can because it's a struggle for him too. Don't forget that. Most companies though, if you ask nicely (key word there is NICELY) for a rep that speaks English better, they will try to accommodate. Give it an honest effort though. You'd be surprised the good experience you can have. Those reps are generally under more pressure to give the customer a better experience so when you give them a chance, they can surprise you!

The other thing we (as consumers) have to remember is, outsourcing is, for lack of a better term, our fault. We have demanded lower prices and companies had to find ways to give us what we wanted. We have brought this on ourselves. This is a prime example of getting what you pay for.

Now some companies who have outsourced have taken it too far, we can all agree on that. But having been on the other side of the coin, working with them (i have gone over to both India and the Philippines and trained some of these reps before) they do make a big effort to try and help us as its their job just as much as it is mine. But it's still our duty, as the consumer, to show them respect and let them do their job.

I will honestly say in closing i have seen and dealt with reps working from other countries that aren't qualified to wipe tables at McDonald's. I have also experienced that in the US as well. The worst reps I have dealt with both professionally and from being the customer were all US based. They (reps in other countries) already know we are frustrated that the job they are doing used to be here and that they aren't as good at English as we are. They are human though. Just like you and I. They deserve the trust of letting them attempt to do their job before we get frustrated and ask for "someone who speaks american". 

I'm a big believer in professional karma. You get what you give. You give them respect and patience, even when they are difficult to understand and they will be more willing to bend rules if they can or go the extra mile. The more rude you are to them, the less leeway you will get from the rep if they even can budge. Sometimes rules are rules no matter what. But the better you treat the rep, the higher the chances are that they will bend over backwards to help you even if its not exactly in the scope of support they can offer. 

Remember, treat that rep how you would want to be treated in their position.

Do companies really record every phone conversation like their recordings say? And can they easily pull any recording they want, if there's a dispute or something?

Asked by Anna1234 over 9 years ago

As i haven't worked for EVERY company, i can't say definitively that they do, but it is most definitely an industry standard. Those calls can be used in court. Just like the notes in a customers account.

As far as pulling a call, it is very common. From customer disputes to quality scoring and even call collaborations. We very regularly go into meetings and the supervisor will pull a random call and everyone discusses it. These are all in an effort to make sure when you call in, you get the most quality service you can.

Is every agent perfect? of course not. No agent is. But they are used for accountability and development to make sure you (the customer) are taken care of to the best possible standard

When do your policies allow you to just hang up on a rude caller?

Asked by JV over 9 years ago

This does differ company to company. With most, If you have been warned two-three times about your language or conduct on the phone with the agent (foul language or saying offensive things) then the agent is allowed to hang up. Some companies do not allow it and require putting the customer on hold or escallating it to a supervisor.

Personally, I will not work for a company that does not allow the call to be terminated when the agent is being abused by the customer. I ask in every interview for a position with a new company what the policy is. I treat every customer i come into contact with, with the most respect I can. Even when customers get verbally abusive or are continually offensive. While i take none of it to heart, I refuse to allow it to continue beyond reason.

If you are that mad that you feel you need to insult the agent because of something the company did, cool down before you call. You don't like someone being disrespectful to you while you are trying to resolve an issue you didn't cause I', sure so its good practice to show that same respect.

Now if they are being rude in a different way like interrupting, I simply have to change my approach, politely regain control of the call, and move forward with making sure to resolve the concerns and answer the questions of the customer.

My friends and I debate which of our cable companies have the absolute worst customer service reps (my vote: Comcast by a country mile). Inside the industry, is there one company that's considered to be the worst as far as CS rep quality?

Asked by over 9 years ago

Honestly, the cable industry as a whole has an abysmal record. The company I worked for did very well in my region (the Midwest) but nationally they are ranked pretty bad too( it wasn't Comcast). There are several factors that I could go on and on about that cause this but it comes down to one thing- no one can win when it comes to cable TV except the networks themselves. My experience in the cable industry has taught me that. I could go into more detail then anyone who hasn't worked in the industry would probably understand but the cable sector is broken as a whole. Its not just one companies' fault.

When a caller asks to speak to a supervisor, are you insulted because they're implying you can't solve their issue, or just relived to get rid of an annoying customer?

Asked by funwithboys over 9 years ago

I have never felt insulted when a customer asks to speak with a supervisor. Have i ever felt relieved? frequently. Most supervisors in the call center industry have been in that position for years. It's not uncommon for someone to be hired into a company as a supervisor.

I worked for a cell company where my sup was hired in. He would regularly be taking an escalation from me and ask ME what the policy was. The agents you talk to when you call in, they do it daily. They know most of the policies backwards, forwards, and sideways. The supervisors job is to focus more on the development of the agent when it comes to call quality and time management. Also helping with professional development as well. Policy slips out of their mind, even if they started with the company as an agent.

So to circle back around, when someone asks to speak with a supervisor? i have already told them what the sup will tell them so all i feel is irritation that I have to take time dealing with getting the customer to my supervisor despite having answered their issue or resolved it to the best possible method i can based on company policy. 95% of the time a person escalates to a supervisor ( IN MY EXPERIENCE) they wasted their time.

Angry callers who are just being stupid, i'll gladly hand them over to a supervisor when they ask for it. I want to talk to someone reasonable. Not some jerk who is mad his bill went up 3 dollars because of taxes. Something we have 0 control over. (funny note, in my experience, people get more mad over tax increases then actual price increases, go figure!)

Now every ONCE in a great while, a supervisor is the only person that can resolve the issue (your situation requires a refund higher then i can give or something likr yhsy) then i gladly give it to the sup because that's the best course of action to get your issue resolved which is what I'm paid to do.

The difficult escalations for me (from both the supervisor and agent standpoint) is when the issue is an agent directly. He was rude, she was chewing gum (or some other type of food) on the call. Those mean extra work. Listening to the call, talking to the agent. Listening to the call again with the next person up the food chain (the supervisors manager or whoever the sup reports to) and then deciding the course of action if its determined there is a credible issue. It's time consuming. But i feel, having been on both sides of the issue, i would rather have an escalation regarding the conduct of the agent then a policy, because I can do something about an agent issue. Policy issues on the other hand, all i can do is listen to the venting of the customer and tell them I can't change the policy. I feel like it wastes the persons time some times and I don't like wasting someones time. That's why I use the line "I understand your issue but my supervisor would give you the same answer i am", its honest.

Has your job made you better or worse at handling annoying people in real life? Like are you more patient and polite now, or more aggravated bc it makes you think 'MAN, I GET ENOUGH OF THIS AT THE OFFICE!!' lol

Asked by bekka over 9 years ago

Great question!

I have honestly never been asked this. It's kind of a two sided response. At home, I have developed a much different way of handling things. I stay calm and focus on the issue and resolve it. The outside influences like peoples reactions are no where near as influential.

At work is a different story. We definitely do what we can to keep each other in high spirits but its always a high pressure work environment with everything we have to do and monitor. Tempers fly and we can sometimes get under each others skin. I actually will admit i sometimes i have less patience with my co-workers then my customers, friends, or family.

What kind of day leaves you feeling proud of a job well done, when each day there's a new queue of annoyed customers you have to deal with? Thanks!

Asked by Hamilton over 9 years ago

good question!

I feel accomplished every day that I do my job regardless of how the customers are or the system issues or changes in the position or even my co-workers. If the customers were rude, wouldn't listen, and called me every name under the book, oh well. If I did my best to resolve every issue i encountered and did my best on every call I took, I consider it a successful day. Was it tough? hell yeah. But i can still feel a sense of accomplishment because I earned the pay i got, even if that isn't the best either.

Every job, regardless of the feild, has its down sides and its good sides. If you continually focus on the negative, it will result in your job sucking even if you are a professional cuddler (holy crap where was that option on career day?!) but if you find the silver lining, you can enjoy what you do, even if it is a difficult job.

What's the meanest thing someone's said to you on the phone? Has anyone every threatened to hurt you? Not that that would be possible if they didn't know who you were i guess...

Asked by LeFort over 9 years ago

I have gotten told i was going to get fired more times then i can count by customers. It has never happened. Agents are more likely to get fired for HR policy violations like sexual harassment then a customer complaint (obviously that's not a common issue either)

People say stupid stuff when they are angry. I have been called a towel headed sand n**** (thats the N word) a terrorist, a theif, and several other names. The only thing they do is make me laugh. I will say one angry guy that was unhappy I wouldn't reduce the cost of his bill without removing services (cell phone company) so he called me (for those that get offended, i'm simply telling a story, I was offended too) I was called a cock gobbling ass dragon. I laughed at the guy and, within the policy of my company, ended the call. He heard me laughing at him and when the call was reviewed (he filed a complaint) my supervisor gave my a $10 Starbucks card for not going off on the guy and remaining as professional as possible. The customer was told to either pay his bill or switch by the supervisor when he called them back to ask if i'd been fired yet.

I have no pity on those people. They have deeper issues and I don't take it to heart. Most newbies have a bleeding heart. They want to give every person every thing they can. Training is about refining that to the people that actually need to be helped and then learning on the job refines the definition of who actually needs help and how to best do that.

We all have thick skins. You have to in this industry. If you don't and you take every situation and problem personal, you can't last in this industry or customer service as a whole.

Does it suck sometimes? yeah. Dealing with a crying wife/mother because she is canceling the service of her son/husband who was a soldier and died in Iraq or Afghanistan, those calls hurt. I have had to step away and cry a bit because of it. But as a whole, we have to just shut up and deal just as much as the customers do because i'm going to talk to another 100 people after that person, and they aren't going to be in a good mood either.

So every night, i go home, kiss my son, kiss my wife, watch some big bang theory to bring some more light in my life, and get up and do it again the next day to face a new set of people that are mad, not at me, but the situation they are in. Like i said in a previous question- customer service 101- see it from their point of view. but don't get too attached, because it makes the job you get usually horrible pay for that much worse. No need to over do it!

If a customer service representative screws up in something she tells me (like gives me a wrong price for a service for example), is the company bound to honor that, even if the rep just made a mistake?

Asked by Edok0 over 9 years ago

I'm surprised it took someone this long to ask this!

The short answer is no. Humans make errors. a company can't be held liable because sales rep you talked to knew he was about to get fired so he told the last 5 customers he talked to you could get free cable for 6 months. They are honor bound to do SOMETHING, but are not required to do anything other then say it wasn't a valid offer and they can't do anything.

The only time it gets to where the company has to do something is if its advertised. Then they need to investigate it. If the ad was printed wrong or something, a simple retraction letter covers them on it. Now if you were promised a valid promotion and that wasn't given (89.99 a month for a year for your cable bundle) the company is bound to correct that within a reasonable amount of time as long as its caught within a reasonable amount of time. For example... if it takes you 6 months to realize you didn't get the promotion, don't expect to get credit for the difference for the last 6 months or whatever it would have been. rule of thumb is 90 days. As far as i know that's a policy of the FTC has. Now some companies ( i have done this myself) will start the promotion as of the date you catch it and let it go for the advertised time.

Now if a company has its reps telling customers one things and they are doing another, that's a whole other issue where the FTC and BBB need to be contacted as that's false advertising and fraud. But one off issues, the laws usually favor the company because of the possibility of human and computer error.

I will say though, all calls are recorded and MOST companies have to note the calls. These are both able to be used in legal proceedings.

Do you have a go-to script or strategy for getting an angry caller to calm down?

Asked by bigbadwolf over 9 years ago

I use a few different strategies when dealing with angry callers. I actually enjoy them. I like making people have a better day so if I can diffuse an angry person and make them like me, I see that as a win.

Customer service 101 you learn to look at it from the customers perspective. That's why I liked doing retention work for the cable company because that's all i did. So i always try to see it from their point of view. Using that tool resolves a majority of issues.

Unreasonable individuals are a whole other animal and are unfortunately the more common angry customer. I have to remind myself that not everyone is going to leave my phone happy because of something out of my control or their lack of acceptance to the situation. First, i always try to use reason. That works about 10% of the time on a good day. Since it's rarely effective i will double back to trying to see it from their POV. As this is difficult, at this point, i usually have to put my foot down and take control. Once I have assessed the actual issue and confirmed this from the customer, I resolve it, or if its not something that i can resolved (technical difficulties, IT is working on it, something like that) I have to do my best to tell them to get over it and be patient.

The most effective call center agents can tell you to shut up, get over it, and pay your bill anyways, and they will make you feel like it was the best experience you have ever had. because we don't have body language to use as a tool of communication, our tone is 80% of what we do. What we say is the other 20%. You will find most people that have an extensive call center based resume can usually do this without thinking. That's what makes us good at what we do. We have to be able to relate and mirror all different types of culture and mannerisms so we learn how to deal with almost any type of person.

But when all else fails and a customer is still being angry and unreasonable, i have to very simply and professionally shut them down. "other then the issue that you called in about which i have explained, is there ANYTHING ELSE i can help you with." I hate hate hate having a call get to that point. But when it is, I'm done, the customer is done, and we need to both be adults and part ways.

Are most call centers still big bullpens with hundreds of phone reps or is it moving to a system where you can work mostly from home?

Asked by shot22 over 9 years ago

Some companies have a very virtual system. This allows the flexibility of working from home or telecommuting during bad weather situations. However, because of the liability issues and the bigger risk involved in that situation, most companies do not allow it. Several do but require stellar stats for a year or two before you can transition to a work from home capacity.

Do more call center reps work for several companies at once, like they have to be trained for any of them, and then their phone displays which company a caller is calling about?

Asked by rich over 9 years ago

I have only seen 1 company that does this but i know more exist. They use software that routes the call to the agent and shows them the number the customer called. These are usually pretty horrible centers. They are revolving doors for people just looking for a paycheck. The third party company that operates the center cares about the bottom dollar, not the rep. Those of us with more experience that have come across these companies avoid them like the plague unless its absolutely necessary. Ill work fast food again before i go to a company like that. The companies that use them usually have very little concern for the customer experience either.

Now its not uncommon for companies to use third party companies to supplement the call support. But, the ones that do better will dedicate reps to different accounts. For example, 50 people are dedicated the cell phone company A, they only take those calls daily and its like they work for that company they take calls for they just get a paycheck from the 3rd party company. This is done by companies to Outsource and save money but still keep the jobs in the US so they don't take the PR hit and its easier for them to control what the outsourced reps do.

What education do you need to work in a call center? I have a GED, and I think I'd be good in customer service but would I be competing for jobs with college graduates?

Asked by Maebella over 9 years ago

It depends on the company to be honest. I only have a diploma and I have been in entry level management at a previous company so you have a shot! The best thing you can do is to look at the job requirements and see what they look for.

I would however caution you to make sure you look up information on the company you are looking at applying to. Make sure they have a good reputation and that they have things in place like Vacation time, benefits, and other things like that. The work I do changes every day and stress management is a huge part of being able to get out of bed every morning so make sure the employer has things in place that can help you with that.

It's not uncommon to have call centers that are "revolving doors" as most are due to attendance. But If the reason people aren't coming in is stress, you may need to evaluate your stress processing abilities. If you can find anyone who has worked at that place currently or previously, get some time to pick their brain about a day in the life of an agent in the area you are looking at applying for.

There is a whole lot more to what we do then taking calls. The average call center agent is monitoring their performance in several areas simultaneously so it can be overwhelming for some while others, like myself, it doesn't phase. The better you are at multitasking, the more potential you have as a call center rep.

As far as competing against college graduates, again it's going to depend on the company and the abilities the position requires. I can tell you, having been in the supervisor role, I sometimes prefer the newbie with no college degree and experience because i can train them right from the beginning and avoid certain bad habits that some call center employees can develop. On the flip side of that, certain positions, i want an individual who knows certain things only a degree education would provide.

Talk to the HR rep of the company and look at the job requirements for the position. Research is your friend in this industry.

How does your performance get evaluated? Do supervisors listen to your calls and what if they happen to choose a really crappy set of calls to evaluate?

Asked by Ertro3x over 9 years ago

Most companies are going to monitor several metrics. Handle time, speed to answer the call, accuracy of information given, sticking to the quality expectations the company has as well as schedule adhearance. Schedule adhearance is important in the industry because that means the agent is on the phone when they are supposed to be. Things that would have a negative impact on schedule adhearance are things like getting stuck on a call so you are going to break late or going to the bathroom when its not a scheduled break time, that sort of thing. basically anything that goes off the set schedule you are under, hurts you. 

For the call center industry, time is money. There are people that run constant analytics and forecasting for any sector that is customer facing. They use forecasting models to predict call volume so that the company can make sure they are adequately staffed. If someone gets stuck on a call and goes to break say 5 minutes late, that five minutes late they come back (break still needs to be taken obviously) then that can have a negative impact on the numbers the business is graded on like abandon rate (customer hangs up before they get to an agent because of the long wait time) and overall customer service ratings (if it takes forever to call in, you aren't going to be very happy with their customer service. right?) So the goal is to stick as closely to your schedule as possible to keep the number crunchers happy. 

Now obviously an agent isn't tied to a desk and refused bathroom breaks so if ya gotta go, go, just hurry. But they encourage time management so that you are at your desk, on the phone when they need you more. Most companies have a goal of around 90-95% minimum but want as close to 100% as possible. As 100% is almost impossible, they do give a little bit of breathing room to account for real life, but use the facilities and get a drink on break because when you aren't on break, you need to have your headset on, talking to whoever is calling in. Handle time is important because if everyone is hitting handle time goals, then forecasting is a breeze and customers have a better experience when they call in which helps create more revenue (happy customer buys happily) and stuff like that.

The industry as a whole is more or less a numbers game. Once you learn the numbers and what they mean, you have to figure out how to hit it and do it. That's what your paycheck is going to reflect.

Yes supervisors listen to calls. This is how the agents get better at their job. Typically the supervisor will go over any calls that have been monitored and scored by the QA (quality assurance) department (which are supposed to be randomly selected) and go from there. When i was a supervisor, and I have seen in my experience this isn't an uncommon practice, I would also randomly find calls and listen to see what I can find personally that QA might miss to help my agents better develop professionally. 

It does occasionally happen where an agent has a bad set of calls. We all have bad days. As long as nothing is considered "gross misconduct" like hanging up on a customer to avoid dealing with the call or speaking inappropriately to a customer (negative things about the company or product, swearing, or anything generally offensive) then its simply a matter of showing the agent the mistake and helping them learn from it. I have never fired an agent because of a bad day as long as the customers weren't treated poorly. Missing a few things on a QA evaluation or unintentionally giving incorrect information are all things that are easily fixable regardless of the situation. As long as the customer isn't mistreated (for examples of mistreatment, see comcast LOL) then we have the ability to fix the issue as long as the agent responds to feedback and actually puts into place the instructions the supervisor gives, then we have no issue. If it becomes habitual and the agent isnt improving, then we need to look at evaluating if the position is the right one for that person. But that takes months in most cases so the agent knows what is coming.

When someone complains about a rep to a supervisor, how much effect does that acutally have? How many complaints before there'd be some sort of discipline of that rep?

Asked by Dhot over 9 years ago

It's honestly situation based. If a customer complains about a representative, most companies will, regardless of the situation, listen to the call. Then, based on the company's standards and disciplinary process, they will decide how to move forward if the rep did indeed conduct themselves inappropriately.

I have been involved in the discussion of many of these calls. I have seen the outcome where the rep was given a verbal warning all the way up to and including termination for ONE bad call. Most companies take these situations seriously and do try to keep their reps in the understanding that if you mistreat the customers, you will be removed from the company.

It all depends on the situation

Other than being a good listener which seems obvious, what traits would you say are required if you want to get into telephone customer service?

Asked by igotstripes over 9 years ago

Computer literacy is very important' especially nowadays. I also look for agents (when im involved in the process) that have the ability to think quick on their feet, think outside the box, and have the ability to keep a positive attitude. A lot of the customers have a negative attitude and one company I worked for previously was so aggressive with their expectations that people would have to be put on anxiety medications because they felt so pressured.

The reason I am able to be successful in this industry is that I don't let those things get to me. I fully understand the reality of the world and business and frankly, don't care to put myself under that much stress. i take everything everyone says with a grain of salt and when I am not hitting the metrics I need to, I focus on implimenting the feedback im given and leave it at that. As long as an agent is doing those things, its very difficult to be fired in this industry.

i also feel like you need the ability to accept feedback constructively and not as an attack. If you cant take critisizm well, you will not last long at all. Additionally, having a good set of ethics and a good moral code help. It is always very tempting for some to do things that are unethical or immoral to make an extra buck. Don't do it or you will get caught, and most companies are not afraid to assist to make sure the person is prosecuted for fraud if need be.

So in short, Computer literacy, a positive attitude, good time management skills, able to accept feedback well, a good moral code, and an understanding of what ethics mean is important. Also, good people skills are mandatory. if you dont like people and take everything seriously, do something else with your life because the call center industry will be a living hell for you.