Call centre agents handle incoming or outgoing customer calls for a business. They call existing and prospective customers to promote goods and services. They also obtain sales and arrange sales visits.
Call centre agents typically do the following:
- Answer incoming calls and respond to customer’s emails
- Manage and resolve customer complaints
- Sell products and place customer orders in the computer system
- Identify and escalate issues to supervisors
- Provide product and service information to customers
- Research required information using available resources
- Research, identify, and resolve customer complaints using applicable software
- Process orders, forms, and application
- Route calls to appropriate resources
- Document all call information according to standard operating procedures
- Recognize, document, and alert the management team of trends in customer calls
- Follow up customer calls where necessary
- Upsell products and services
- Complete call logs and reports
The following job titles also refer to call centre agent:
outbound call center agent
call centre taker
outbound call centre agent
telephone sales generator
call centre rep
inbound call centre agent
telephone service attendant
telephone sales representative
outbound sales agent
call centre operative
call centre operator
telephone sales agent
call centre representative
call centre service agent
inbound call center agent
inbound sales agent
call center representative
Call centre agents are employed in nearly every industry. Agents in offices may work in a large room alongside other employees, so the area can be noisy. Working from home is also possible in some companies. Call centre agents may be under pressure to answer a designated number of calls while supervisors monitor them for quality assurance. In addition, the work may be stressful when agents must interact with dissatisfied customers
Although most call centre agents work full time, some work part time. Agents often need to work during busy times, which may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.
Jobs in call centres may require agents to work shifts early in the morning or late at night because some call centres are open 24 hours a day.
Call centre agents typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter the occupation. However, some of these workers have postsecondary education that may include a bachelor’s degree in fields such as business, communications, and social science.
Call centre agents usually receive short-term on-the-job training. Those who work in finance and insurance may need several months of training to learn complicated financial regulations.
General customer-service training may focus on procedures for answering questions, information about a company’s products and services, and computer and telephone use. Trainees often receive guidance from an experienced worker for the first few weeks of employment.
In certain industries, such as finance and insurance, call centre agents must stay current with changing regulations.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Call centre agent is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Call centre agent career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to call centre agent.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of call centre agent. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of call centre agent with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of call centre agent.
- Characteristics of products: The tangible characteristics of a product such as its materials, properties and functions, as well as its different applications, features, use and support requirements.
- Credit card payments: The methods involving payment done through credit cards.
- Characteristics of services: The characteristics of a service that might include having acquired information about its application, function, features, use and support requirements.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of call centre agent.
- Guarantee customer satisfaction: Handle customer expectations in a professional manner, anticipating and addressing their needs and desires. Provide flexible customer service to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
- Perform multiple tasks at the same time: Execute multiple tasks at the same time, being aware of key priorities.
- Speak different languages: Master foreign languages to be able to communicate in one or more foreign languages.
- Keep task records: Organise and classify records of prepared reports and correspondence related to the performed work and progress records of tasks.
- Adapt to changing situations: Change approach to situations based on unexpected and sudden changes in people’s needs and mood or in trends; shift strategies, improvise and naturally adapt to those circumstances.
- Show confidence: Demonstrate degrees of maturity by fully understanding one’s own qualities and abilities which can serve as sources of confidence in different situations.
- Use customer relationship management software: Use specialised software to manage company’s interactions with current and future customers. Organise, automate and synchronise sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support, to increase targeted sales.
- Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
- Present reports: Display results, statistics and conclusions to an audience in a transparent and straightforward way.
- Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
- Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
- Communicate by telephone: Liaise via telephone by making and answering calls in a timely, professional and polite manner.
- Process data: Enter information into a data storage and data retrieval system via processes such as scanning, manual keying or electronic data transfer in order to process large amounts of data.
- Handle tasks independently: Handle inquiries or information independently with little or no supervision. Depend on one’s self to communicate with others and perform daily tasks such as working with data, creating reports, or using software.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of call centre agent. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- E-procurement: The functioning and methods used to manage electronic purchases.
- Teamwork principles: The cooperation between people characterised by a unified commitment to achieving a given goal, participating equally, maintaining open communication, facilitating effective usage of ideas etc.
- E-commerce systems: Basic digital architecture and commercial transactions for trading products or services conducted via Internet, e-mail, mobile devices, social media, etc.
- Communication principles: The set of commonly shared principles in regards with communication such as active listening, establish rapport, adjusting the register, and respecting the intervention of others.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of call centre agent. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Handle helpdesk problems: Investigate what causes problems, test and improve solutions in order to reduce number of calls to the helpdesk.
- Perform data analysis: Collect data and statistics to test and evaluate in order to generate assertions and pattern predictions, with the aim of discovering useful information in a decision-making process.
- Answer incoming calls: Respond to customers’ inquiries and provide customers with appropriate information.
- Educate on data confidentiality: Share information with and instruct users in the risks involved with data, especially risks to the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data. Educate them on how to ensure data protection.
- Perform escalation procedure: Assess situations in which a solution cannot be provided right away, and ensure that it is brought to the next levels of support.
- Provide ICT support: Resolve ICT-related incidents and service requests from customers, clients or colleagues including password resets and updating databases such as Microsoft Exchange email.
- Apply operations for an ITIL-based environment: Properly operate ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) based service desk procedures.
- Provide customer follow-up services: Register, follow-up, solve and respond to customer requests, complaints and after-sales services.
- Think proactively: Take initiatives to come up with improvements.
- Prioritise requests: Prioritise incidents and requests reported by customers or clients. Respond professionally and on time
ISCO group and title
5244 – Contact centre salespersons
- Call centre agent – ESCO
- Customer Service Representatives : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Call Center Agent Job Description Sample | MightyRecruiter
- Featured image: Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels