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Getting to grips with a call center – the most important user guide you'll ever read
Call center work can be very diverse, from taking customer enquiries and providing technical support to cold-calling and lead generation, from emergency service dispatch to appointment booking for health and social care services. No two call center jobs are the same in terms of subject matter, yet there are some universal rules and methods that apply in every setting. When starting out as a call center agent, or moving from one company to another it is important to understand the way things are done at your new job and why this is so.
If you are new to using telephone headsets for your job, it may seem baffling why managers place a lot of importance on looking after the equipment and storing it properly, this is because it is the essential tool for the job. A surgeon cannot do their job with a blunt scalpel, and a taxi driver cannot work with bald tires, and for a call center agent the humble headset is that vital piece of equipment. They are often damaged through improper use, poor storage and lackluster cleaning, so you will be doing yourself a huge favor by getting into good habits early on.
Whether you have used headsets before or not, each model will be slightly different, so it is worth spending some time familiarizing yourself with the moving parts and accessories. That clip on the cable is not there as a fidget toy, it is actually to clip the cable to your clothing, so the headset does not slip or get pulled askew by the weight of the cable dragging it down. Different microphone booms will move in different ways, so get used to how yours works while it is in front of you, you'll be able to see the movement much more clearly than when it's on your head! The same goes for the adjustability of the headband and earphone position. If you are using a headset that used to belong to someone else take a few minutes to give it a thorough clean and stay on top of the cleaning of your equipment.
When using a headset during a call it is easy to fall into the mistaken belief that because the person on the line can't see you they won't know if you are eating, drinking coffee or even playing on your phone at the same time. The little pauses in conversation that occur when you take a sip of a drink or read a Facebook status are a dead giveaway that your full attention is not on the call and this is very frustrating for someone calling about something important, like a doctor’s appointment or help with their computer. Try to keep eating and drinking to your allocated break times and don't get fooled into using the time that the phone is ringing or you are waiting for a call to snack – as soon as you take a bite of that sandwich, it’s a sure bet that you'll get a call.
Even experienced call center agents get complacent over time, so if you are new make sure you don't pick up any bad habits from people who have become too comfortable in their role. If you are a seasoned call center agent it is worth refreshing your approach every once in a while, to ensure you are not slipping in to bad habits, sometimes a new member of staff is the perfect reason to do everything by the book and reassess your working practices that may have degraded over time.