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What is a Call Center Representative?

A call center representative is an individual who answers customer phone calls and provides customer service. They may also be responsible for taking orders, providing product information, or resolving complaints.

The call center representative job is a critical part of many businesses. Each representative is the first point of contact for customers. Their interactions can make or break a customer’s opinion of the company.

Call center representatives need to be friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable about the products and services offered by their company.

What Do People in Call Center Jobs Do?

A call center representative’s duties may vary depending on the company they work for. However, there are some general tasks that all call center representatives perform.

  • Answering customer phone calls
  • Providing customer service
  • Taking orders
  • Providing product information
  • Resolving complaints

Call center representatives may also be responsible for entering customer data into computers, updating customer files, researching products or services, and training new call center representatives.

Where Do People in Call Center Jobs Work?

The majority of call center representatives work in call centers located inside businesses. However, some call centers operate remotely. Additionally, many call center representatives work from home, using their own computers and telephones.

What Degree is Required to Become a Call Center Representative?

Most call centers do not require call center representatives to have a college degree. Most do require a high school diploma. Others won’t require a high diploma and will offer anyone willing to work in the industry the required job training.

Many call centers look for candidates with call center experience or at least customer service experience. However, if you plan on working in an industry that requires technical knowledge, such as the computer or automotive industries, it’s helpful to obtain a bachelor’s degree in that field of study.

Some companies may prefer hiring call center representatives who speak multiple languages (especially Spanish). In some states, it’s required that call center reps taking orders over the phone must hold a valid salesperson permit. These permits are typically issued by a local licensing agency.

There are several ways to become a call center representative.

  • Complete an online call center representative training program
  • Attend a call center representative school
  • Get a job at a call center and receive on-the-job training

Each of these methods will give a prospective call center representative the skills and knowledge needed to work in the industry.

Once a call center representative obtains the job, they start on-the-job training. The training typically lasts two to four weeks. The training period may last for several months when working in the insurance or finance industries.

The on-the-job training generally consists of call center representative classes, computer training, information about a company’s products, and call handling procedures. Call center representatives also get the chance to listen in on experienced call center reps taking customer calls.

How Much Money Does a Call Center Representative Earn?

The amount of money call center representatives earn varies depending on the company they work for, their level of experience, and the state in which they live.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for call center reps is just under $36,000. Looking at it from an hourly rate perspective, the median hourly rate earned by call center representatives is about $17 per hour.

The median wage represents the wage at which half of the customer service reps earned less than the median and half earned more than the median.

Here are the median hourly rates for call center jobs in various industries.

  • Retail trade: $14
  • Business support services: $15
  • Professional, technical, and scientific services: $18
  • Insurance carriers and related activities: $19
  • Wholesale trade: $19

Businesses offer call center jobs for both part-time and full-time hours. Holidays, weekends, and evenings represent the busiest call center times when more representatives will find plenty of opportunities to work more hours.

Since many call centers operate 24 hours per day, some call center representatives will work either early morning or late night shifts.

Call Center Job Requirements

To become a call center representative, a person typically needs to fulfill the following requirements.

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • Customer service experience
  • Computer literacy
  • Fluency in English (and possibly another language)

Call centers look for people who can remain friendly and helpful to customers, understand the company’s products and services, satisfactorily resolve customer complaints, and stay up-to-date on changes or new products offered by the company. Call center jobs require the following skills.

  • Listening skills: call center reps must listen to customers and understand their needs.
  • Speaking skills: call center reps must have a pleasant speaking voice and be able to communicate with customers in a clear, concise manner.
  • Problem-solving skills: call center reps often help resolve customer complaints or problems. They should have the ability to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions.
  • Multi-tasking skills: call center reps are typically juggling multiple calls at once. They need to effectively manage their time and keep track of several conversations simultaneously.
  • Computer literacy: call centers use computers extensively for tracking customer data, managing schedules, and other tasks. Call center reps should be comfortable using computers and navigating call center software.

Overall, interpersonal skills are the most important aspect of call center jobs. Call centers require friendly, helpful individuals who can communicate effectively with customers over the phone and via email. It’s not uncommon to encounter angry customers where a calming, reassuring voice helps mitigate the situation.

Call Center Career Path

Over the next several years, the growth rate within the call center industry isn’t expected to change much.

Many call center representatives get promoted to supervisory positions (such as team leader) if they obtain management skills and prove themselves reliable. Some call center reps also advance into other areas of the company that they work for, such as human resources or sales.

For call center representatives who can speak more than one language fluently, they may also have opportunities to advance into translation or interpretation positions.

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