With digital getting bigger every day, more and more customers are taking to social media to air complaints or questions. Although you might expect the number of phone calls to have dropped because of this, the call centre industry continues to grow to cope with customer demand.
Acorn’s Senior Recruitment Consultant Lauren Keen shares her tips on a successful career in customer service…
You’ll likely be the first and sometimes the only point of contact for customers, so people will expect you to have an understanding of the business and your customers’ needs. If you don’t know enough, they’ll be leaving with a poor impression of your company. Obviously you can’t know everything from day one, so don’t be afraid to ask colleagues and managers if there’s something you’re not sure of – every day your knowledge will grow, and so will your confidence.
I know you'll have heard this so many times, but it really is essential. Whether you work with in-bound or outbound calls, you’re providing or selling a solution so if they sense even a tiny bit of negativity, that call will go downhill fast. Research shows that smiling whilst talking not only helps you sound happier but will actually make you happier too – so a win for everyone. Put on a smile and always, always, be polite.
When you spend most of your day talking, it’s no surprise that great communication skills are a must have for this industry. Show customers that you understand their frustration, and convince them that you want to and will fix their problem as quickly as possible. Of course, if you can’t, be honest and pass them on to someone who can.
Unfortunately, you’ll come across some unhappy customers – just remember that they’re angry at their situation, not you. Every contact centre should have supervisors close by for situations that need a more experienced hand - simply explain that they need to speak to your manager and hand it over.
Speed is vital and you’ll likely be targeted on your calls. You’ll quickly learn to think fast and resolve any issues quickly without rushing the customer off the phone – nobody wants to feel like a number in a long line!
Many companies ask for a minimum ‘C’ grade in GCSE English and Maths, but it’s worth checking as every company is different. Some companies – particularly financial services organisations like banks – will also require a good credit score for the position.
Salaries in this sector vary widely - a typical contact centre role will net you between £15,500 - £17,000, with some areas going up to £21,000 per year. Many companies we work with offer bonus or cash incentives on top of an annual salary, and will certainly look after you with healthy (and the occasional unhealthy) snacks, gym membership and childcare vouchers etc. so don’t always look at the basic salary package, as the OTE (opportunity to earn) in this sector is great.
You could be answering inbound-only customer service calls for a company, or cold calling potential customers as part of an outbound team. Experience of both is highly useful to have if you’re thinking long term.
All employers offer a basic training programme when you start – and some also offer external qualifications like apprenticeships, or even degrees. At Acorn, we’ll advise you of the training opportunities available ahead of your interview, however if you have a training and progression path in mind, talk to your potential employers about it - they’ll admire your enthusiasm and commitment.
Many people join contact centres briefly to make some cash between education, jobs or other activities but the contact industry does offer so much more in terms of long-term career progression – I’ve seen so many people really thrive and go from entry level to senior management very quickly.
The opportunities are there for the taking – you just need to grab hold of them.
If you would like to discuss your first or next job within the contact centre industry, contact Lauren today.