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frugalone
8-30-11, 12:29am
Anyone here ever work in a call center?

If so, I'd love to hear about it. It seems to be the only option open to me right now. I'm still reeling in disbelief that there do not seem to be any temporary receptionist or secretarial jobs any more. It's all warehouses and call centers.

Frankly, I'm afraid it would be dreadful.

Please, someone respond and give me some info if you can. Thank you very very much!

Kestra
8-30-11, 9:51am
While I don't work directly in the call centre, the company I work for has a call centre as the biggest area. Probably about 60-70% of our employees are in the call centre. It's all the same office so I know a lot about what they do. Here's some things that might be helpful to you, though don't apply to all call centres of course:
- people are either in "sales" or "service". This is determined when you are hired, though people sometimes change from one to the other. In sales, you get more commission and have to be decent at the selling game, but clients are less likely to be irate. In service, you don't have to sell anything but people are calling in with questions or concerns or cancellations so they are more likely to be difficult. We have some employees that are really good at one or the other and will stay for many years.
- you must have good supervisors to make it a better job. Everybody knows that the call centre isn't a fun job, so our best supervisors try to make the day fun for people and are motivating without being mean. They try to get people to improve at their jobs through coaching without coming across too harshly. Because we offer several weeks paid training and the nature of the job means high turnaround, employee retention is important. Pretty frequently there is some free food thing or contest for prizes. So any place you're looking at, try to get the feel for the supervisors and how happy the employees are.
- room for advancement or ways to get out of the call centre: are there any other things you could move into with the company? We have people move into AR or scheduling/reporting or claims administration or being a field rep. Generally the people who are able to move into another area after proving their worth last for many more years with the company.
- training - is there any paid training or are you just thrown in? Depending on the complexity of what you are doing - sales vs. surveys, they should provide adequate training.
- hours - we are open for calls from about 7am to 10pm M-Th, 8pm Fri and 8-5ish Saturdays. Also fulltime and parttime positions. So you may be able to get a few hours just to get some income and also be able to look for other jobs as well. Though I think we have longer hours than most places and quite a bit of flexibility in scheduling when we work.

Really, call centres aren't necessarily all bad. If I had to move and couldn't get a job I would consider working in a call centre even though I hate the phone and dealing with people hour after hour. This is what I would look for:
- can I work part time?
- are there other positions in the company that have less phone time?
- do they care about computer/math skills at all? (that's my specialty)
- what is the overall attitude of the staff?
Once I got that job, I would do my best to look useful in any area that was more in my field. If somebody needed help with Excel or whatever. Even moving into a supervisory role usually equals better pay/hours and less actual phone time. The best way to get other jobs seems to be to do the call centre job as best as you can.

sweetana3
8-30-11, 2:28pm
Kestra, great reply. Should be given to anyone considering a call center occupation.

mschrisgo2
8-31-11, 2:14am
My daughter has worked in a pharmacy call center for Kaiser Permanente for about 8 years now. When she has a good supervisor, she loves it! For several months there was a not-so-good supervisor -- and she says it was really hard, because morale was soooooo low. It really depends on the boss setting the right balance of fun and productivity.

She's a nationally certified pharmacy tech, and would like to move into the actual pharmacy, but almost impossible to move out of there to another position; she'd have to take a cut in pay.

frugalone
8-31-11, 8:25pm
Thank you! Those are helpful answers. I appreciate your input.
Kestra, I am not so good at math--and most of the call centers seem to list that as a qualification ! Oh no!

Kestra
8-31-11, 9:17pm
Thank you! Those are helpful answers. I appreciate your input.
Kestra, I am not so good at math--and most of the call centers seem to list that as a qualification ! Oh no!

Really? I'm not seeing how much math would apply to most jobs (math is just what I would prefer) - I bet it's pretty basic stuff that they want. It seems the average younger person has pretty poor math skills - you'd probably be above average compared to other candidates just from prior work experience, even if you think you're not that good.

Shari
9-1-11, 3:45am
I didn't work in one but used to sit a stones throw away from one.

I recall their work being scheduled slightly differently from week to week (maybe 1/2 hour difference start/end times), because they analyzed incoming call patterns or something and re-adjusted.

Its been a few years ago, but I believe they were fairly strict about bathroom breaks and things like that. Not a big deal for most folks unless you happened to be ill, pregnant, etc.

poetry_writer
9-1-11, 12:00pm
It seems like a horrible job to me, but that is one of few places that are hiring in my area. I have worked a multi line phone as a customer service rep before and I truly hated it. On the math issue, I applied for a state job. They gave us a math test on paper. I cannot do math on paper, it just isnt my strong point. The test had nothing at all to do with the job responsibilites, in fact she said their goal was to "go paperless".

frugalone
9-2-11, 11:10pm
Well, I'm diabetic so I need to "go" rather frequently. Might be an issue but maybe not.


I didn't work in one but used to sit a stones throw away from one.

I recall their work being scheduled slightly differently from week to week (maybe 1/2 hour difference start/end times), because they analyzed incoming call patterns or something and re-adjusted.

Its been a few years ago, but I believe they were fairly strict about bathroom breaks and things like that. Not a big deal for most folks unless you happened to be ill, pregnant, etc.

frugalone
9-2-11, 11:11pm
I had cut out an ad from the local rag and it said you had to have good math skills. I'm not sure why...it's a pharmaceutical company so maybe something to do with billing? I'm sure geometry won't come into the picture (which is a good thing!)



Really? I'm not seeing how much math would apply to most jobs (math is just what I would prefer) - I bet it's pretty basic stuff that they want. It seems the average younger person has pretty poor math skills - you'd probably be above average compared to other candidates just from prior work experience, even if you think you're not that good.

frugalone
9-2-11, 11:12pm
My thoughts exactly--seems horrible. I took a state clerk/typist job and I had to do basic math for it. I got a 99 score, so I guess I"m not as math-challenged as I thought. I have trouble balancing my checkbook and am grateful for online banking.


It seems like a horrible job to me, but that is one of few places that are hiring in my area. I have worked a multi line phone as a customer service rep before and I truly hated it. On the math issue, I applied for a state job. They gave us a math test on paper. I cannot do math on paper, it just isnt my strong point. The test had nothing at all to do with the job responsibilites, in fact she said their goal was to "go paperless".

DonkaDoo
9-29-11, 7:00pm
I work from home in a call center as a travel agent. I have worked in a supervisory role, and I have also worked as a trainer. Currently, I just take calls. I don't like it. Every SECOND of your day is monitored. And by every second I mean EVERY SECOND. Personal time, ACW (after call work), hold time, etc. And god forbid you work in a BUSY call center. It is exhausting. One call after another after another after another. With no time to think or breathe. The worst part is scripting - and call monitoring. Really, the only way to survive is to pick your battles. Like me - I don't care about my call monitoring scores. I just don't. It makes me feel like a goob to say all the stuff they want me to say so I just don't do it. People can be bad, too - but I work with the military mostly, so I am lucky there - for the most part they are awesome. I am very thankful I don't have to work with the general public on a daily basis.

Some things to consider when interviewed -
* What is the scripting like? (it can be INCREDIBLY retarded)
* how often are you monitored?
* Is working from home an option?
* How busy are you? How many calls are holding at any one time? Busy call centers are THE WORST
* What are your hours? I am lucky and have a 9a-5p M-F.
* Do you have shift bids and how often? If you do have shft bids how are you ranked (usually seniority but sometimes other things come into play.)