What is a Call Centre?
Call centres are basically centres where large volumes of customer queries or customer support requirement can be dealt with. It may also be a centralised location from which telesales operations can take place. Companies like SERCO for example provide and manage call centres all across the globe in a variety of different industries. Their website provides more information regarding SERCO contact centre operations and jobs.
- Call centre work usually involves customer queries and support, providing technical support to customers, making sales or telemarketing, offering information and guidance about existing products etc.
- Depending on the type of work involved, workers could have specific performance targets to meet as part of the job.
- all centres usually have a workstation for every worker with a computer at each work station. Employees can access relevant information about customers on the company’s database, depending on the type of service they are providing.
- Call centre workers usually deal directly with customers over the phone, so some essential skills and qualities needed for the job are good communication skills, good telephone manner, good personal management skills and a high level of self-confidence.
- Since the work usually involves dealing with a computer, workers also need to have a certain level of IT skills.
- Basic pay for call centre jobs usually within sales or customer service can be around £12,000 with an hourly rate of just above minimum wage.
- Management positions can draw around £18,000 – £25,000 per year, but specific salaries will obviously depend on the role and the company.
Are Call Centres the Modern Day Working Mill?
Call centres have often been the target of satire and social commentary in recent times. Even as the manufacturing industry seems to be shrinking, the service industry has stepped up and filled its place, sometimes even literally. After all, what better use is there for old mills than as office space for call centres?
While the manufacturing sector in the UK contributed 40% of the jobs in the nation, until after the Second World War, the figure today is vastly lower. But even as we delegate our manufacturing to a certain part of the world, the service industry seems to be booming in the UK, and indeed around the world. Call centres seem to have sprung up everywhere, and just like the mills once represented the industrial and manufacturing revolution, they represent the new revolution.
So why is there a comparison between call centres, or contact centres as they are known within the industry, and working mills? This is because of the ‘assembly line’ approach taken by the service industry towards customer service centres; and secondly, because of the alleged realities of working in a call centre.
Who in their right mind would like to make cold calls to people and try to sell things? Well, that is what telemarketers have to do. And just like mill workers, they have targets to meet – hourly targets, weekly targets and monthly targets. Disturbing people at their homes and workplace, trying to sell them things they don’t want or need and being scrutinised and assessed at every stage of the process is what telemarketing work basically entails.
As for contact centres taking incoming calls from customers, the story only get worse. Most people deem calling up a call centre one of the most stress-inducing activities in their life. But if it is stressful for callers, how stressful might it be for those who are physically answering the calls, and trying to deal with problems they are probably not equipped to deal with? Simply because they have to meet a certain target.
What is The Future For Call Centres?
Until not so long ago, the aim of incoming phone call centres was to get as many phone calls processed as possible. This meant that each employee had a certain target to meet. However, the industry soon realised the pitfalls of having a customer service system which doesn’t allow time for any customer service.
The truth is that call centres have earned a notorious reputation of being no better than factory farms of human beings with a script to read from. But this reputation has been earned over the years, during which time the service industry has striven to change its ways. Today, the industry is making efforts to change the way contact centres are run and managed and trying to evolve efficient systems that cater to the customer, as well as save the companies money.
However, the main aim of setting up call centres is for companies to save money. It is all about getting what needs to be done at the cheapest price. This basic premise dictates that call centres will never be able to provide a whole lot more than the bare minimum for their employees or indeed for the customers.
Working for a call centre can be hard work, and there are certainly reasons why it has gained a bad reputation. It cannot be denied however that contact centres have created jobs for a lot of groups in society today. Temporary positions are especially useful for those trying to get their foot in the door and can set workers up with an array of transferable skills for future positions. Although the work may not be for everyone, it cannot be denied that it is a big part of today’s consumer society.