What’s it really like to work in a call centre?

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We often get asked this question – what is it really like to work in a call centre?

We commissioned three young journalists to investigate. The findings are surprising.

Despite the modern sweatshop image, our reporters found a work hard, play hard environment, with rewards, job satisfaction and even love!

The Untold Truth Of Call Centre Life

Behind the negative stereotype there’s a secret satisfaction to call centre life.

By Matthew Brown

Call centre employees know something most people don’t. A dirty little secret that some of them keep from friends and family.

Something that people who haven’t worked in a call centre can’t understand, or won’t believe. But sooner or later, many call centre staff let someone in on their secret. It’s really quite simple.

Many call centre employees love their job.

They don’t feel boredom or monotony. They aren’t upset by angry customer complaints. They don’t even feel that their work is pointless. To them, the stereotype of a call centre as a dull place to work is nothing like their own experience.

“Calling the Account Managers to tell them about a lead is like telling a child that tomorrow is Christmas Day,” says Gabrielle Deschamps, 22. Gabrielle works for an international telemarketing agency based in Bournemouth.

“I do business development for Dell, calling companies in France to talk about the virtualisation of their server and storage systems. My job is to find leads, and it is very interesting because I’m speaking to the IT Directors of the companies I call.”

Speaking to senior staff at a range of companies makes Gabrielle feel that her work is valued. It also uses her language skills. Born in France, Gabrielle speaks both her native French and fluent English. In an increasingly globalised business world, many telemarketing and international companies rely on multilingual employees. Call centre workers with a second language alongside English can often find themselves earning a good wage in a job that values their skills highly.

Sales Agent Nick Upton, 24, finds his personal interests help him to do his job at the Dixons contact centre in Sheffield. Like Gabrielle, he appreciates the value his employer places on skills and knowledge.

“I’m interested in technology and in this job I talk people through the details of laptops, televisions, stereo equipment and all sorts of electrical goods. I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge and I enjoy helping people improve their work or leisure time by choosing the right product,” says Upton.

Creating a good working atmosphere has long been a key part of a call centre manager’s or supervisor’s role. Most call centres have their own motivational games and internal competitions to keep staff productive and relaxed. To outsiders, these can seem silly, but managers use them for a reason. They work.

“I really enjoy the competitive side of my job. Being in sales means the rewards and bonuses are very good,” says Upton.

“This is the first call centre job I’ve ever had and before I started I thought I would hate it. But it’s enjoyable.”

Before working at the Dixons contact centre, Upton thought call centre work would be all about hitting harsh sales targets set by management.

“In fact it is quite laid back. There are targets to hit, but I take inbound sales calls so half the job is already done by the time the customer picks up the phone.”

Of course, every job has a downside, and call centre work is no exception.

“I do speak to the odd grumpy person, but most people are willing to have a conversation at least,” says Deschamps.

Many call centre horror stories feature angry customers venting frustration at faulty products or bad service. In reality, such calls are in a minority, and complaints department staff are specially trained in how to deal with problems.

“It can be quite funny to listen to an angry customer sometimes. Someone having a rant cheers me up if it’s been a hard day. It does throw them a bit when I just agree with what they say and pass them through to the complaints department,” says Upton.

But most people love a good conversation. Call centre work is communication, and talking to a diverse range of people can be incredibly satisfying, whether it’s a great group of colleagues or the chance to have friendly conversations with customers all day, every day, ultimately it’s people that make a workplace into more than just somewhere to grind out a living. The mixture of people employed by large call centres can also make colleagues into lasting friends.

“It’s the people I work with that make the job so enjoyable, and I have some great colleagues. But that’s because they too are happy in their work, and the atmosphere around the office is jovial and fun,” says Deschamps.

Some people even find love. Just like Gavin and Stacey in the BBC comedy of the same name, telephone flirtations can lead to romance. Earlier this year a poll commissioned by Lloyds Pharmacy found that call centre employees were more likely to have had an office relationship than workers in any other job.

Out of 3,000 people surveyed, 29% of those that worked in call centres said they had shared an extra-special connection with a colleague. Finance and HR workers were next on the list, with 28% and 26% respectively admitting to a workplace fling.

An open-plan office can certainly be perfect for making eyes at a cute new colleague or casually flirting with the boss. Many call centres have large staff and organise works social events, always a great time for mutually attracted co-workers to finally cop off. Of course, the office gossip grapevine is sure to spread word of any romance around long before the lovers arrive at work the next morning, whether together or separately!

Office gossip also provides a never-ending supply of amusing anecdotes for happy call centre workers to share with friends who doubt the fun side of the job.

“We get people calling up and asking for dooooves (DVDs) and lucitvs (LCD TVs), like on the Fonejacker TV show. It’s not annoying at all, we’ve all done prank calls when we were younger so we just humour them and act like we know what they are talking about,” says Nick Upton.

“And although I’ve never encountered him, there’s also one guy who calls the contact centre whilst, ahem, you know what.”

Now that is a dirty little secret.

Matthew Brown

Student work in call centres – what is it like?

Dewi Griffiths investigates.

It’s not exactly the first thing you want to do after finishing a long shift but, only an hour after returning home from work, Richard Thompson welcomes me into his student house with a warm smile. The 22-year-old is currently studying to be an accountant at university but I am more interested in his part-time work.

Thompson works at a call centre in Cardiff and unlike the majority of students and graduates who are struggling to find work, he is thriving.

Firstly, I needed to find out about Thompson’s duties in his current position. “After my employers realised that 90% of calls put through to stores were not being answered, they decided to set up the call centre in order to deal with more queries and to be able to supply an improved level of customer service,” he explained. “Some of my duties include handling customer complaints or queries, tracking delivery orders and assisting with business queries from stores or from different departments within the centre.”

Thompson worked in a local convenience store after finishing school and it was his first real taste of employment. However, after being accepted on his university course he decided to try for something more challenging and successfully applied to work in the call centre.

That was two years ago and I quizzed him on what type of skills he felt he had acquired and developed since joining the call centre. “Firstly my negotiating and interpersonal skills have really developed as most of my duties involve dealing with customers in a courteous and helpful manner. I have also improved my problem-solving skills. There are so many situations where there isn’t a clear solution, therefore I am often required to think on my feet. Thirdly I would say that I have improved my team-working skills as I often assist my colleagues with queries and I also seek the advice of other members of my team. With around 850 members of staff working at various times, there’s always someone there who is ready to offer support!”

Having mentioned team working, I quizzed him about the opportunities he had to build relationships with his colleagues. “I found it very easy to make friends and after a few months I knew about half the staff! There are also lots of different staff working there, young and old, men and women, people of all races and religions – it really is diverse, which is great!”

Thompson continued, “The staff facilities are also quite impressive. When you’re on your break you can either go out for lunch or use the in-house facilities such as the pool table and TV room, so you can catch the Fifa World Cup if you’re really lucky! It means that you can make friends at work in a relaxed environment, which is tremendous.”

It is obvious that Thompson enjoys his work. Also, compared to his last job where he received the minimum wage, he is well rewarded. “My wage is fantastic and because I work weekends I am on a double-time rate. There are other benefits too, such as free shares and discounts on products. You feel like you are being rewarded for your hard work, which is important. There are also awards and achievements, for example employee of the month and rewards for positive customer feedback, which also contributes to your drive for success.”

Even though it is late on a Saturday night and he has just finished a 10-hour shift, his enthusiasm shines through and he explains that his current shift pattern helps him to balance his academic studies and social life. “One thing that has really impressed me is that they have student shifts which cover evenings and weekends. This is an indication that the company is aware that everybody is in a different situation and that they are prepared to cater for our needs.”

One thing he does emphasise is that whilst he is happy in his current position he isn’t taking it easy. “There’s no room for complacency in my position and you are always required to work hard. Everybody has KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which are statistics that measure your performance, for example average length of call times, your availability for calls and work attendance.”

“I think it’s a good thing,” he added. “It is a clear indication that everybody is working to a high standard. It also means that if you hit certain targets you are eligible for benefits and bonuses. If your statistics are low, you are trained in the areas you are struggling in so there is also plenty of support on offer that can further develop your skills.”

Whilst I understand that he is happy in his current position, I am keen to find out whether there is any capacity to progress within the organisation. “I’m actually applying for a new position at the moment which is a real-time analysis role,” he stated. “This is a more technical role which studies the statistics of our team members and forecasts the number of calls the centre will receive in the coming weeks. I’m hoping to get the position as it is something I have not yet experienced and it will equip me with a greater range of skills.”

Finally, my thoughts turn to whether he would advise someone else to apply for a position in a call centre. “Would I recommend it?”, he asks whilst rubbing his chin in a contemplative manner. “I know that to work in our centre you have to be of a certain standard and I’m sure it is the same in other centres. You have to be prepared to work hard, be able to adapt to difficult and stressful situations and show initiative. You also need to be cool, calm and collected and not get discouraged by the odd ‘difficult’ customer! The position has its positive and negative aspects, much like any job, but if you work hard then you are rewarded accordingly. Working in a call centre certainly suits me and if you are looking for a challenge and an interesting work environment, then I would definitely recommend it!”

Dewi Griffths

Graduate employment in a call centre

A growing number of graduates are turning to call centre work in a bid to give their career a flying start – as well as reduce that graduate overdraft of course!

Tom Waller investigates this growing employment trend.

Getting that foot in the door is more vital now than ever as the recession bites particularly hard for graduates. With the number of students graduating steadily rising and the graduate job market shrinking, the sector has become somewhat unbalanced. Recent studies have shown the average graduate job is now attracting more than 100 applicants for each position.

Having had first-hand experience of both industries I can conclude the old adage of it being who you know is also dead in the water. So, no quick fix there either, I’m afraid. Unless you’re one of the chosen few that get through the rigorous recruitment process and scoop that gold-dust-like graduate job, the only way to get ahead now is hard work.

Call centres provide a good way of getting a great overview of a company and its operations, and the results can really pay off. Handily, two of my good friends from my call centre days have used the basis of my theory to prove my point.

Adam just graduated from the University of Manchester and Jim from Portsmouth. We were taking calls for various companies, including Dell, Texaco and The Royal Mail to name a few. I’m not sure their degrees in Sports Science and Forensic Biology were entirely utilised, but they were working and that’s half the battle when leaving Uni.

We were all on the front line as it were. You quickly build friendships in the hustle and bustle of a busy contact centre and rapidly learn to rely on each other’s experience and knowledge as well as your own. It really can be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. Long night shifts in the depth of a dark winter can be lonely without a friend to get the coffees in, early morning shifts can be busy and testing without a friend to get the coffees in and the mid-morning lull before the lunchtime storm can be tough without a friend to get the coffees in. Adam and Jim were my (coffee) drinking buddies.

There is, however, a sense of camaraderie in this line of work, you have to think on your feet and remember your training. I like to imagine it is a lot like being a soldier, but with less camouflage and gunfire. And more coffee.

Anyway, my point is that you can really develop yourself both professionally and personally in this environment. You now have a demonstrable ability to work in a team. You may have done a presentation at Uni and cited it as an example of teamwork in every interview you have been turned down from, but you now have real-world team-working experience. You can’t get by in this industry without it.

How about an example of how you have effectively used communication? How you resolved a conflict? How you went out of your way to help someone? Check, check and check. What we quickly learned is that a call centre is a great way to enhance your CV and push on. It can be a fun place to work but also provides you with so much more.

Another great advantage of working in a call centre is that you really can get an oversight of the whole company. As CEOs of multinational brands go undercover and back to the “shop floor” for TV programmes to get a feel for their customers, brand and staff; you’re already in a perfect position to get a flavour of all of these. In fact, you can’t help but take it all in. It wouldn’t make for as interesting TV programme I guess but they could just ask their call centre staff…

Taking this experience on board, Adam has since left the call centre to join a national wine retailer and is currently an area manager for the firm. His career has soared Majestically…

Jim progressed within the company to Account Manager, and since then, Account Director. He gets the best of both worlds, full interaction with both the end-customer and staff.

Because he’s been there, done it and got the call centre T-shirt the staff appreciate him and know he’s not guessing his way through the day. And from his point of view, he knows what to expect and what the pressures of call centre working can be. This overview of the business and lesson from the ‘front line’ prevent him from placing unreasonable demands on his staff. As a small aside, Jim owes more than his career to the call centre; “I think my life and my son’s life would have panned out slightly different if I hadn’t met his mother there!”

Graduate trainee schemes are tough to get on to but you can fulfil your journey to the top if you tailor your own scheme in a call centre. It can be hard work, but from experience it is better to be working hard than waiting for a trainee scheme that may never materialise.

The modern call centre has shelved its former image. They are nice places to work, the unionisation of the industry is also a bonus, but above all, if you treat the experience correctly, you can learn and progress. You’re not just taking phone calls; you are networking, managing customer accounts, training others and developing your own skill set that you have spent so much time fine-tuning at university. The rewards are there too if you choose to progress up the call centre ladder. Team leaders in a call centre earn on average £5k more per annum than retail managers and you don’t have to put up with huge deliveries or January sales! Been there, done that too…!

So before you think about waiting for that graduate scheme, taking that job down the local pub or working for minimum wage in a shop, you may want to consider work in a call centre.

Tom Waller

Do these stories match up with your experience? Perhaps you have a story to tell? Please let us know in the comments box below, or send your stories into the newsdesk. We will run a follow-up story in a few weeks’ time.

29 Sep 2010 - Filed under Call Centre Life ,

Views - 112,695

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Comments on: What’s it really like to work in a call centre?

Great post! I was just bemoaning the fact that the blogosphere and twitterverse is overpopulated with angry and disgruntled CSRs who rant, while my experience is that most CSRs are pros who actually enjoy what they do.

Thanks for offering a great, positive perspective!

Posted by Tom Vander Well — 29 Sep @ 6:05 pm

Reading this makes me slightly happier, knowing there are people that do enjoy working in a call centre.

But coming from a small call centre (3 staff…..) we don’t get incentives, don’t have targets, can’t go for coffee together etc. It kinda sucks!

Posted by Jackie — 30 Sep @ 8:48 pm

I think these articles were written by managers of call centres. Call centres = micro-managed, disempowered scrutinised employees. This work model does not work for anyone. Call centres do not encourage thinking. Call centres are ruled by absurd measures that do relate to good client care. I really think company’s need to think outside the square with call centres and start empowering staff.

Posted by Natasha E — 8 Jan @ 2:26 am

Interesting spread of viewpoints!

Natasha, Just one comment. The articals were written from interviews with staff, not as a PR exercise by any centre. The “micro-managed, disempowered scrutinised employees.” may be from your experience, but, that is not a blanket catch-all for EVERY centre.I’d have a look at a couple of the other articles on the site here, There’s one in particular that refers to that specific issue, and, looking at what happens to the customer as a priority over any ‘tangible’ empirical measures.

I’ll quite happily declare an interest here. I’ve been in the industry for nearly fifteen years now. Starting out on the phones, and, am now on the forecasting and planning and reporting side. In that time I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of ‘Managers’ who’ve micro-managed, stending over their teams, pushing for the next call to be answered faster… None of them are still in the trade! Conversely I know a lot of agent’s who’ve been in the role or trade for years. Where I am currently we have an average length of service of over seven years. That wouldn’t happen in the environment you describe.

I’m not saying you’re wrong, your view and experience is totally valid, just that there are other perspectives as well..


Posted by Dave Appleby — 8 Jan @ 10:07 am

Interesting articles and comments. Like Dave I’ve been in the industry for some time and started out on the phones before progressing through the various roles (Team Manager, Data Analyst, Planning Manager etc) before becoming the Centre Manager a few years ago.

Right now our focus is on engaging more with the customer and providing a quality service. To help this along we recently removed our AHT / Calls per hour targets from the KPIs of the frontline Advisers and Team Managers. This was done to give them as long as they need to deal with each customer enquiry in order to increase customer satisfaction and eliminate needless repeat contacts.

Call Centres as described by Natasha existed in the past and there may be some still around now however I don’t believe they are in the majority.

Ultimately happy staff create happy customers.

Posted by Chris Watson — 8 Jan @ 3:17 pm

I walk at a call centre, we call for charities, to fund raise for them. ;] I love my job, I love the people and I love the customers for the most part. They’re all very lovely and it’s fun to engage with them and have nice conversations about that which is the topic of interest – the cause they’re donating to, or just bits and pieces of their lives. I love the hours too because I start at 3 and finish at 8:30 so it means I can sleep in. :D

Posted by x — 21 May @ 4:21 am

It takes a special kind of person to enjoy the work of a typical call center. You have to enjoy being treated like a child, abused, belittled, managed like a robot, and always counseled as to what you are doing wrong versus what you are doing right. I have worked in call centers off and on for years and I am now ready to put it all behind me.

What is described in these stories is the exception rather than the norm. There are folks who do enjoy these jobs, but these people, I believe, are folks who have convinced themselves that there isn’t something better out there for them. You are groomed and trained to accept settling for less. The pay and benefits can be good, but the stress can be damaging to your health and your relationships.

The motivational activities at many call centers remind me of being in elementary school. People are rewarded with little tokens of fake appreciation. Call centers are famous for encouraging kudos among its employees. If you get a kudos, you should feel special. But you’re not. You are just another cog in the wheel, expected to not complain and enjoy your restroom breaks being micromanaged. Some call centers give more flexibility, but many do not because of contractual obligations to satisfy service levels and meet metrics-related goals.

The nice caller exists but more often than not, you get a frustrated, demanding, entitled caller.

There is room for advancement and growth, but like many places of business, it often depends more on who you know and who is kissing whose behind rather than the skills you can bring to a position. You can get promoted after years and years of being on the phones, but by then you are just another call center drone.

Posted by Dee — 26 May @ 3:52 pm

After reading through this article and it’s comments I can establish that call centre work is not for everyone…

You will have to work hard, be focused and up to date on company policies, special offers and more.

You will have to take criticism constructively so you can improve and work productively
NOTE:-(if you cant take being told what your doing wrong, then you will have trouble being employed anywhere… even min wage jobs, call centre’s especially)

Working in a CS will be both challenging and rewarding, staying focused is key though they often have great staff facilities like leather seats, big tv’s or a pool table etc(went to British Gas, great staff, great managers and the best staff room you’ll ever see)

Though if you are looking for work, with no or few qualifications and the best you can get is a minimum wage job? really try for a call centre

(i’m stuck with a catering agency at min wage for incredibly hard work and stupid hours, often not getting work some days/weeks)
I will be learning and training myself for such work, so when i re-apply to british gas the tests will be simple and il be getting much greater rewards with a great deal more responsibility and self satisfaction!

Posted by Andy — 30 May @ 4:51 am


i worked at call center during a low employment period. although the experience was overall positive, the reason i got let go for was not. this was Eddie Bauer catalog sales where you followed scripts to take VISA orders. I did this just fine. however, after being there for a couple months the employers added something to the requirements; you have to sell X amount of ‘weekly specials’ each week. if you don’t, you will be let go. why punish someone if they are just taking care of customers with what they actually ordered and not forcing them to buy more?? sure this is good for the company, but NOT what the customer called to buy! this is a BAD practice in my opinion, getting grilled by a call center person to buy this and that is STUPID practice and should not be tolerated! anyhow i do all my buying online and haven’t had to deal with call center cold calls since then.

my 2 cents

Posted by Mr.Pibb64 — 3 Jun @ 4:59 pm

Couldn’t have put it better myself Dee, the way you describe call-centres sounds exactly like the one I have recently left. The stories above would portray a true image of call-centres for certain people working in them of course but I don’t believe it would represent the majority. Call-centres seem to hate their reputation of having a high staff turn-over but does this not tell them something about their working environments?

My experience involved inbound calls and basically repeating myself anywhere between 70-100 times a day while constantly being reminded of my targets. When I say reminded what I actually mean is being reminded that they will sack me if they don’t improve! This you might think is acceptable as we all work in jobs with certain pressures and I agree, however my targets were actually detrimental to the experience of the customer calling me.

Call-handling time for example – they wanted me to only have the customer on the phone for a certain time. But when the customer is calling me and wants to talk through their query, concern or sale why should I be punished for how long that call takes? Another was wrap time – this was the time I spent on the system dealing with back-office queries, all with the ultimate goal of resolving the customer’s query or concern. However I was punished for not meeting the wrap target even though I was actually doing one of the most important parts of my job? This was simply because I was not available to take a call which I was then under pressure to finish asap. The complete madness of the working environment I was in seems funny now but at the time all I wanted to do was to throw my headset down and walk out.

Of course some people are going to be happy in that stressful and target-driving environment but I wasn’t and I can tell you a lot of my colleagues were not either and all are actively looking other employment. I hope now I have put call-centre work behind me for good.

Posted by Rob — 28 Jun @ 6:33 pm

Well you’re obviously going to find alot of current CSRs enjoying thier work.

I mean how many people have had experiences like me where they work for a delivery service or an isp as outsourced call centre work where you are only allowed to put (genuine and backed by the companies own Data) tickets in for reimbursement and the company rejects then without reason.

If you work for an ethical company that gives you the discretion to return peoples money when its being taken in error then yes it might be satisfying.

But that is like saying living in an autocratic dictatorship would be better that a modern democracy if the leader was both extremely competent and well-meaning. Its obvious.

But to get that ‘dream job’ is hard. Most people that do CSR work do it because they can’t get a job anywhere else.

They are given randomized shift patterns. Long term temporary contracts so they can fire you for not taking overtime, or having a sick day when the weather is literally ice age and disrupts/annihilates the transport infrastructure forcing employees to walk to work in blizzards and thus get sick..

Most people getting fed into contact centre work are working in high turnover centres. DO NOT BE DECEIVED the people that find themselves ‘loving’ their jobs are holding those spots.

If you find your way into the system as your first job with little or no experience you will be taking the place of someone that quit or was fired because of angry (and completely correct in most cases) customers getting to them or not taking voluntary overtime..

or realizing that working Noon to Nine with 1 day of the weekend and 1 day of the week off from August to January with coercive overtime deserves more than the minimum wage.

Posted by Tesslyn — 1 Jul @ 11:33 am

It all depends where you work and who you are working for…. Third party contact centres are horrible places to work… micro managed to the nines… you are treated like a child and most managers have never heard of positive reinforcement… these places have an average of 70 % turn over. One place i worked even had you go and tell your leader if you had to use the bathroom and god forbid you spent more than 4 minutes doing that….it is call after call after call after call for 8 hours… if you are not ready for more than 30 seconds someone is breathing down your neck…there is no other job in the world where every single movent of your day is as hevily monitered it is also one of the only jobs were seconds matter… IE if every call centre agent goes 2 seconds over on there lunch the company looses 1,000,000 a year ,,, However, if you are lucky enough to actually work for the company you represent and not an outsourced office the job can be very good with fairly high wages and great atmosphere. These types of call centres are great and offer good work life balance and good incetives to do well. It is also a great starting point to get your foot into a company and most good contact centres encourage growth and movment… All in all if your working right out of a company’s head office its great otherwise it’s not :)

Posted by Lawrence — 28 Sep @ 5:51 am

After reading these posts, I have come to the conclusion that it solely depends on the type of call center that one works in that will determine how much you enjoy your job. I have worked in a call center for the last 4 years and isn’t too bad. Is it my dream job? – no. Does it pay the bills and help me provide for my family? – yes. However, they do no stay on top of people’s lunch – ie., if you’re a little late coming back from lunch, nobody chastises you for it. We also are a small call center, so I can see how working for a larger corporation could be more restricting on lunch break, restroom breaks, etc.
Overall, I feel that working here has helped me deal with difficult people and difficult situations. Due to this experience, I really do feel like I now can handle stressful situations with ease. Saying all this, after this job comes to a close, would I like to work in a call center again? Probably not. I only say this because it is mentally draining and at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is get back on a phone, even with a friend.

Posted by Veronic — 15 Feb @ 7:17 pm

I work in a call center and call to different medical facilities to gain medical records for patients we are representing. It’s fun and because lots of the cases are different, it’s rare that any calls are exactly the same. If you have the right attitude, you can get far in the company.

It’s not easy to get hired with a direct position in the company unless you have an Associates or Bachelor’s degree..I was brought on through a temp agency (without any degree) and was able to apply permanently to a job after I met so many hours and proved I could do a good job. So far for me, it has been rewarding in a personal and financial way.

Posted by Manda — 18 Feb @ 3:54 am

i work for a big retail company which has recently took full control of its banking products and opened up its own call centres in the uk for insurance and banking in general. i currently work for the motor insurance side, dealing with new and existing car insurance customers. this particular company i work for has a ‘values’ policy, and strives to treat customers fairly. they therefore, do not target any member of staff here for sales, call times, or after call work, or any other target that other call centres may do. i think that at the moment that is quite unique to have a call centre with no targets! we are expected to do out job and monitor our performance etc, but with no target to work towards there is no pressure and we can focus on putting the customer first and dealing with their query, not forcing a sale! only downside is there are no incentives or bonus due to no targets, but the wage is great for the job i do and the atmosphere is always great in my centre as we have so much flexibility, and time to come off the phone and deal with customer queries and complaints!

Posted by laura donkin — 8 Apr @ 3:30 pm

Watch the account you work for. I had an account once where I used to have Funai, but it wasn’t as stressful though they wanted 6 and a half minute average time. Verizon came in and had so many insane metrics that we had to meet, if just one metric wasn’t met, you were written up and let go. Our turnover is almost 100%. If you fail a survey, even though you could not do more due to policy, too bad for you. You had to suck it up and take the hit. Even passing 12 out of 14 surveys wasn’t enough, you had to pass almost every survey. Customers are free to fail you on surveys for insane reasons, some of us had failed surveys even after we fixed the customer issue!! We had to have an 8 minute call time average or less, or we were eventually let go. It didn’t matter why the call was long. Then you blew adherence if you took your break late due to a long call. Then Verizon made their surveys all random instead of one day in the week, making it harder, causing you to jack up your ACW time trying to call the customer back because you didn’t want to fail a survey. Check what account you are working for, some have been known to enforce unrealistic goals, not noticing that you may have failed due to reasons not all in your control. At my place, it was just too much pressure for $9 an hour.

Posted by watch your accounts — 21 Jun @ 10:56 pm

Oh, and I forgot to mention, they are now writing people up for not getting enough upgrades..and it has to be done in the same amount of time, 8 minutes. That is why turnover soared from about 70-75% to up in the 90s. Whatever happened to just letting us resolve the customer problem without there being a penalty, and oh, they wanted FCR–first call resolution too. How do you get that to happen in 8 minutes? Many times you have to help them with something else, after you do the required script asking them if there was anything more..then having to offer upgrades after solving their issue on top of it.

Posted by watch your accounts — 21 Jun @ 11:00 pm

If you work in a call center for any big temp company, you’ve probably been getting alot of nasty calls lately. Also, since this is linked up with Manpower’s Facebook page,I’m sorry if calling you a temp company is offensive to you since lately you wish to be called a staffing service, but that’s how you grew up, and you should be proud of it. Thing were better for the working folks back then, and it is what it is. By the way, I wonder why Manpower fixed it to where you can’t exchange comments on their Facebook page.

Posted by J.Carman — 29 Aug @ 1:11 am

I am going for a call centre job tomrrow it is small center what I can tell. :) im acutlly excited

Posted by Starr_shine — 4 Sep @ 2:17 am

I am working in call center, so i am asking one thing , I am completing Tybsc after that i am working in call center , so my filed is Software , so change my profession.

Posted by Awadhesh — 9 Sep @ 3:43 pm

I just started working for a company called Fiserv. I am an inbound call associate for the Bank of America department. My job specialization is in the bill pay department, and I love my job so far. Just like everyone else has been saying, they do expect service standards, such as average handle time, first call resolution, etc. But they have put my through five weeks of training, and I am almost finished with that. They truly care about their employees and definitely are there to help when we are having trouble.

Pay wise, its great. they have overtime incentives, benefits, and meal plans. As an entry level employee, I am making almost double minimum wage.

Overall, Fiserv is a great company to work for, and I look forward to going to work everyday.

Posted by Anonymous — 23 Oct @ 5:30 pm

I worked in a call centre, ringing up people trying to get donations for various UK-based charities.

I’d say it was the most unhappy time of my life thus far

Posted by Nick — 12 Jun @ 2:46 pm

I am working in a call center for almost 2 years. It is the mist dreadful and self destructing job anyone can undertake. I do not recommend you won’t come out the same.

I understand some environments have incentives and fun and enjoyable activities, but fat the end of the day you are still answering phone calls from people who are complaining, shouting, and generally rude.

Satisfaction? not really. I have a master’s degree but I’m stuck in this job as I cannot find something else and it is destroying my future career.

I will quit soon.

I recommend this job for no more than 6 months as a temp or part-time job only, as it can be for some better than working at McDonald’s.

Unless you have no life, and this is your only chance to work in an office environment, then you might be a manager or team leader in as little as 2 years or some times more.

Posted by Mike — 23 Jul @ 11:43 am

I’ve been working in a call centre for three weeks and already I hate it. My coworkers are great but the work sucks. Trying to get people to give to charity, and getting outright hostility to the extent that I wonder why these charities even bother? Some of the managers are OK but the rest are not, and the level of incompetence in the upper strata is hysterically bad. I don’t want to work here anymore, I feel anxious every time I’m about to start, but I want to find something else first, so I suppose I’ll just continue until I finish probation and get fired, because I’m no good at this job anyway, not hit a single target despite my efforts.

Posted by Alex — 15 Oct @ 2:57 pm

Working for a typical call center is horrible and very demeaning. I’m sure there are a few good ones out there as described in the above article, but most – at least the ones I’ve worked for – are very unprofessional boiler room operations which encouraqe – no, more like demand – their callers to be pushy and forceful with prospects and to do anything & everything they can to trick them into buying overpriced crap, not to mention all the little add-ons which amount to big bucks for the heads of these scam companies, and big headaches for the multitudes of peons working for these God forsaken places. Because of the huge turnover rate at these places, one can always find a job with a call center if all else fails, but be prepared to have a stressful go of it while you look for a real job – which admittedly can take a very long time nowadays with the horrendous job market we’ve been in for the last 5 years. Upsides? The only one I’ve ever experienced is at least my fellow employees were always very outgoing & friendly with each other, as we were all in the same sinking boat mess together.

Posted by Joseph — 1 Nov @ 12:35 am

There are different types of telemarketers.

1) The ones with no rules or laws like rogue telemarketers.
2) Lawful and real telemarketer.

The lawless ones have that messed up call ID you see on your phone. They yell at you, they trick you etc. They are they horrible kind. They do what they want etc we’ve all experienced them.

The real ones are respectful, nice, and kind and listen to you. At work, they are monitoried constantly by their boss and the client. They have to read a script word for word and get in trouble if they don’t. They have strict rules and regulations. They can get fired for many reasons like not getting sales quota. The minutes used when they use the bathroom are recorded. They are discouraged from using the bathroom and sometimes get in trouble for it. The minutes they use are recorded when they go for break they have to use a computer to record this. If the computer locks up and you spend 5 minutes after coming back from a break, you have to fill out paper work so you don’t get in trouble. You don’t know if you will have a job the next day sometimes. On top of this they have to deal with the disgusting and horrible way they are treated.

These people are made fun of and mocked and threathened and hurt constantly on the job by the person on the other end of the phone. I’ve had people make racial remarks, make fun of my voice, threathen me, basically hurt in any way they can. I’ve once had a father who rounded up his wife, and kids and each got them to take a turn degrading, insulting, and swearing on me and then taking time to laugh at me after. I remember him saying… your gonna take this cause we know you can’t hang up. At the time it is true it was a regulation where I worked. Sad for another human being to do this in front of his kids huh?

If you want to know how if feels imagine if on your job your boss and coworkers are allowed to make fun of you, say racial remarks, insult your family and degrade you on a daily basis whenever they want and you can’t do anything about it. Imagine you take pride in your work and do a good job but you are held back because of the ways other people treat you? What would you do if your were not sure if you would have a job the next day because of the way people treat you on the job?

Lets not forget other types of phone workers like charity workers and survey workers. Chairity workers are just trying to do a good deed in life. Survey workers just try to get opinions to make prooducts and services better. (it’s funny because people complain their opinion and voice are not heard and they often wish their ideas about product or service improvements were heard and get upset about it but yet hang up or make fun of someone when they are called to express their opinion.)

Another thing to think about is this….. if people treat good decent phone workers bad because they had a few bad experiences with the bad phone workers, why does it not follow though with other things in life. Example….. I went to a garage and the people treated me badly. So now I treat every garage worker in the world badly. Does that make sense? Maybe similar to a stereotype.

A phone is a device that is you use to make and receive calls. You call someone to install it for these reasons. Yet people get upset when they are called. It’s just a ringer that you have control of. You can turn the ringer down, even turn it off. When I eat or sleep I turn the ringer button off, it takes 2 seconds. I have call ID so I see who has called and can call them back. Voice mail and answering machines allow others to leave messages. So there is no need for anger or fear or rage at all.

People take phone jobs for different reasons. Some are retired and need extra income. Some people are sick. Some people are unemployed and want the dignity of at least having a job vs no job while they look. Some are students. Many reasons. It’s a hard economy and a job is better then no job.

Remember we all have loved ones. We have grandparents, kids, neices, sisters, brothers, fathers mothers. These are the kinds of people who take these phone jobs. How would you like it if you someone threathened your loved one, your grandfather for example? Imagine if your parents were made fun of and degraded. How would you feel and what would you do? When you make fun of a phone worker you are hurting these kind of people.

Posted by Jack — 2 Nov @ 9:52 pm

I have been worked in 7 different call centers over the last 10 years and I am sure 98% of people who have ever worked there will agree with me that it is a mentally draining, soul crushing job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Anonymous — 12 Jan @ 8:56 am

I am just about to start in a call centre. I think that it must be easier to deal with just a voice that is being insulting rather than colleagues doing it to you face to face…At least on the phone you can say thank you and hang up

Posted by Nell — 30 Jan @ 6:02 am

I must say, the way you wrote this article.. Pure awesomeness .

Posted by dan — 10 Jul @ 7:08 am

The only reason a graduate is working in a call center is because the job market is so awful they can’t get anything else and I can assure you they are hating every second of it.

Posted by Cady — 2 Aug @ 7:22 pm

I completely agree with this article. I have been with a fantasic company for almost 6 years. And yes, we have pool tables, a huge selection of big screen TVs with all different types of gaming systems. We have old school arcade games in the break room etc. So that is just an extra perk. Yes, the job itself can be taxing at times, but I work in an office where if I need to make a choice to help my customer, I have the freedom to do so, in the way I see fit. I have hard targets, and they can be hard to maintain, but I see them as goals. There is plenty of help if you are having a hard time hitting one. I can take control of what I make for money, and have made excellent lasting friendships. Maybe where I work is different, in fact I know it is. This is the 3rd call center I have worked at. However the ones I was at before, were not hell on earth. I admit, when I started here, no way would I have believed I would still be with the company because I were certainly destined for bigger and brighter things. But, things change. I realize that with the shares I own in the company, provided free by my company, and the earning potential, I am likely making more than if I had gone on to those, ‘brighter things’. In the end, it is money that makes my world run. And I have found something I am very good at, and have the satisfaction of knowing when a customer is off the phone with me, I know I have made their lives easier.

Posted by Beckworth — 2 Mar @ 2:32 pm

I like your example of Gabrielle. I don’t think anybody would argue that speaking to IT Directors at large corporations isn’t valuable work experience. Plus the technical knowledge she is able to gain, and the opportunity to practice her language is invaluable.

Posted by Sean — 19 Mar @ 6:42 pm

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