Call center jobs are considered one of the most popular options among job seekers fresh out of high schools and colleges. We often think of it as a position where one person sits at a desk and cold calls all day.
But the work profile is more than that!
This is why running an effective call center comes up with the full-fledged hiring process to take down the most qualified agents who can take over and improve the overall contact center performance.
Call center agents are the first touchpoint of the customers. So a company needs to incorporate the right hiring strategies and look forward to the skills and traits within the agents.
It is crucial to bring the right people to engage with the customers and quickly resolve their issues effectively.
In this article, we will cover everything about the call center hiring process, key steps, responsibilities, and methods along with the following:
• What is a Call Center
• Different types of call centers
• Skills to consider in a candidate during the hiring process
• What are different positions under call center hiring
• Best training practices for call center hiring
• Duties and responsibilities to perform by the agent
• Future of Call Center hiring
What is a Call Center?
A call center refers to sales and customer service agents who handle the incoming and outgoing communications from the prospects and existing customers.
These centers are regarded as essential components of the customer service domain of the organization. The agent or executive reaches out or responds to a company's customer base regarding technical support, grievances, sales, and other issues.
Call centers primarily focus on customer satisfaction by offering overall support in lead generation, getting new customers, streamlining payment or order processing.
Since there is a lot of work involved, all the call centers need to maintain a high level of service to nurture and grow relationships between the customer and the organization.
Different types of call centers
As per traditional times, only one call center took care of all the activities related to customer services. But as time evolves, many modern call centers have scaled up to address various customer and company needs.
Based on that, there are overall six types of call centers which are discussed below:
- Outbound call centers
- Inbound call centers
- Outsourced call centers
- In-house call centers
- Reactive call centers
- Proactive call centers
1. Outbound call centers
Outbound call centers are those where the agents reach out to prospective and existing customers with the help of the customer base.
The customer base consists of numbers and routes that an agent approaches the respective concerned over the call. It is primarily used for sales, fundraising, telemarketing, and market research.
2. Inbound call centers
Inbound call centers are those where the agents get incoming calls from existing customers. Here, the agents are responsible for handling customers' problems, questions, grievances, payments renewals, technical support, etc.
3. Outsourced call centers
Outsourced call centers are commonly known as Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Sometimes, businesses don't have enough resources to run an effective call center on their own. So they hire these outsource call centers responsible for operating the work outsourced to them for hiring, training, and managing purposes.
4. In-house call centers
In-house call centers are those where the agents deal with the same company's customers and answer questions about the specific products and services of the company. They are often recorded as specialized in a particular division and can advance themselves within the company.
5. Reactive call centers
The reactive call center is the one that fixes problems as it arises. For example, during the festive season, the agent spends more time handling customers and evolving company issues.
6. Proactive call centers
The proactive call center is the one that engages with the customers before any problem arises. They are usually ready to spend time upselling, cross-selling, and identifying and reaching out to the customers.
Based on the types of call centers, different agents and employees are hired based on the relevant skills to match up with the work environment.
Skills to consider in a candidate during the hiring process
Working in a call center is very complex and demanding. The agents have to maintain a balance between satisfying the customers and meeting the needs of the organization.
They should have a vital skill set to deal with the multitudes of the different situations during the work process. So the call centers must hire agents who have top qualities to look after.
Following are the essential skills that an agent must possess to work in a call center:
- Relevant communication skills
- Work under pressure
- Efficient speed
- Team player
- Knowledge retention
- Time management
1. Relevant communication skills
Effective communication is the crucial skill set required by an agent to provide the best customer support over the phone. An agent should have good oral communication abilities and have relevant patience to listen and understand the customer's query and provide appropriate solutions to meet their needs.
This skill is one of the most crucial factors to consider in the hiring process.
2. Work under pressure
Since the work profile demands high pressure, it is likely that agents can suffer burnout and may not be able to perform well. But it is essential to look over the ability of the agent to work under pressure or handle the stress effectively.
They should remain calm and composed in every situation and can tackle every problem, even if it's worse.
3. Efficient speed
Call center agents should be fast and efficient to make frequent calls and increase the bottom line. They should have the ability to provide solutions to a problem instantly rather than hang around for a more extended period.
An agent encounters a lot of situations and problems to handle on a daily scale. These agents should have the ability to solve problems as soon as they come up. They should use creativity to arrive at a solution that can satisfy the caller and preserve best with the company's interests.
An agent should be open to handling any problem along with providing a positive effect on caller satisfaction.
Empathy is considered the most important quality of a successful call center agent. An agent should be capable enough to approach warmly and friendly to develop a good rapport with the customer.
They should have the ability to convey a genuine understanding of the concerns and ensure they are heard.
6. Team player
Though, the agent is responsible for carrying out their work and responsibilities. But in the long run, the agent should have the ability to work as a team by fostering relationships with other team members and helping them by supporting each other at times of need.
Working for individual goals and keeping in mind the team goals helps to promote smoother operation and efficient customer service.
7. Knowledge retention
An agent should have a good memory of the lessons taught and trained by the company. They should be able to memorize and recall all the necessary information to avoid any kind of hesitancy or lack of conviction.
The agent should have a strong command over everything about company details, products, and services.
8. Time management
An agent should have the power to resolve issues as fast as possible. Since the agent works round the clock, managing the overall time to perform the customer's and the company's time is essential.
The other skills required by an agent can be patience, punctuality, and honesty.
A combination of all of these skill sets is critical to a call center agent's success and has a significant impact on the success of the business.
Hence, during the hiring process, it is crucial to identify a suitable candidate for a particular job meeting the skill set requirements and, later, train them to provide a professional and consistent service.
What are different positions under call center hiring?
Based on the types of call centers, there are a set of different job roles for which the candidates get hired in call centers.
All of the job roles have different sets of responsibilities and descriptions required at their end.
Let's take a look at the four key positions and responsibilities hired by call centers:
- Call center agent
- Call center manager
- Team leader
- Call center head
1. Call center agent
A call center agent is also known as a customer service representative, call center specialist, or virtual support agent. It is an entry-level role responsible for providing customer support, conducting market research, and building databases.
The skillset requires them to manage various tasks, from selling products and services to solving customer issues.
2. Call center manager
A call center manager is also known as a customer service manager, customer experience manager, or business operation manager. They are responsible for setting up and reviewing goals for the center and overseeing the smooth functioning of the office.
This role is open for candidates who have more years of experience in customer service and can conduct internal reviews and audits.
3. Team leader
A team leader is also known as a supervisor who is responsible for supervising the overall team. The activities under the profile include the setting of targets, preparing and updating the reports. As a leader, they are also responsible for measuring and optimizing the team's performance alongside providing guidance and motivation to the team.
4. Call center head
A call center head is also known as the director of the call center, who is responsible for the overall outlook of the call center. The activities under the job profile include dealing with the recruitment and hiring process and developing plans for the center. They also assess the organization's financial matters and make significant decisions regarding finance functions and resources.
As per the job profile and description, different candidates are hired at different pay scales according to expertise and seniority.
Best training practices for call center hiring
Before selecting a candidate for the call center job, it is crucial to undergo practices that ensure checking of qualification, experience, and skill set to arrive at a final decision.
These practices will help you narrow down the people capable of the interview and help you handle the process collectively during recruitment.
Let's take a look at the few best training practices required at the time of call center hiring:
Before hiring training practices
- Skill Assessment
- Set up an interview process
1. Skill Assessment
During the time of hiring, it is advisable to test the candidates with the skills assessment to evaluate whether they are the right fit for the job or not. With this, you will understand the relevant skills they possess based on their capabilities.
You can assess video test by giving a situation, and they will be required to demonstrate the scenario or,
You can provide them with a set of questions, and they will be required to write answers as to how to handle certain situations.
This process will help you be clear about the candidate's prospect and whether they have the right balance of patience, firmness, or friendliness required in the job.
2. Set up an interview process
By setting and conducting an interview process, you can get to know the candidate in person and check how they answer the questions in real-time.
You can prepare a list of questions before the interview and ask them accordingly. But do give them appropriate time and flexibility to pass or answer the questions based on their requirements.
A few types of questions that call center agents to get asked in the interview are:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What do you know about the company?
- What kind of profile do you like to work in?
- How many years of experience do you hold in customer service?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why are you fit for this role?
- What are all things you can bring into the company?
- Have you ever faced a challenging situation? If yes, how did you overcome it?
- What kind of pay scale are you expecting?
- Any leadership experience you had in the past?
- Do you have any questions about the role of the company?
After hiring training practices
- Routing easy calls in the beginning
- Using sentiment analysis
- Providing live coaching
- Providing technical training
- Provide relevant feedback
1. Routing easy calls in the beginning
As soon as the new hires join your company, it is recommended to route them with more straightforward calls rather than loading them with high-end calls. This will help them push in carrying out small calls confidently before handling the tough calls.
These calls include basic activities like queries related to account information, the company, products, or how to do something.
2. Using sentiment analysis
Sentiment analysis is an integral part of the call process that detects a customer's attitude during the call. The new hires need to practice as many calls as possible to spot the problems and be alert about the call by understanding different viewpoints of customers.
This process will help the new agents learn faster and be more efficient and prepared for future calls.
3. Providing live coaching
An agent understands well when they get the right coaching and an opportunity to practice the acquired knowledge. The agents need to have the preliminary information readily available to solve the issues on calls.
It is pretty normal that new agents can feel intimidated by new experiences or solve customer problems at once. Hence, providing live coaching can make them confident in their role and reduce the average handle time.
4. Providing technical training
A call center uses a lot of technologies and software to connect the business operations and customers. Hence, the agent should be 100% confident and adept in using all of this technical stuff. Otherwise, a minor technical snag can lead to unnecessary delays and losses.
As a part of training, agents need to become familiar with the tools and processes by providing clear guidance.
5. Provide relevant feedback
Since agents are new to the call process, it is vital to track down their performance and check whether they can meet their goals.
By observing calls, you can build these insights, assess their etiquettes, and identify their overall strengths and weaknesses.
It will not only help in improving the key areas but will also help them to share the relevant resources to sharpen their skills.
When it comes to customer services, every detail and information counts towards the organization's growth as a whole. Hence, these training methods during the hiring process are helpful to build the ultimate customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Duties and responsibilities to perform by the agent
Call centers serve multiple purposes where everyone is bound to interact with them in one way or the other way round. When it comes to responsibilities and duties in a call center, an agent must be competent to undertake the overall functions and responsibilities specified.
In a typical call center, the agent's work is fast-paced and full of tasks to carry out throughout the day
Following are the list of typical duties and responsibilities to perform under the call center hiring process:
- Evaluation of problems and complaints of the sellers and providing them with concrete solutions.
- Answering inbound calls strategically and promptly.
- Upselling the products and services to prospects and existing customers.
- Processing of the orders forms and applications.
- Making relevant notes on insights from the customer's interactions
- Research about using the available resources.
- Responding to the needs of the customers and providing them personalized service.
- Identify the issues that a customer might face and note the way out.
- Preparing and analyzing reports based on customer feedback.
- Completing the call logs and preparing weekly or monthly reports of the work done
- Boosting customer loyalty by offering a proper and relevant experience over the phone
- Following up on the customer calls with the help of scripts.
- Being ready with all the company policies, products, websites, or services-related queries.
- Meeting personal targets as well as organizational targets and working together as a team
- Carrying out the work with honesty and with the interest of the company.
"Call center jobs are a package of services."
Future of Call Center Hiring
The COVID-19 phase was the most excellent accelerator towards technology up-gradation, encouraging work from home options and changes in the general carrying out of the activities.
It has become flexible for all the staff and customers in embracing the communication channels. With self-service options, the agents can ease the burden of high volume calls and specialize in better technology.
In the upcoming years to persist, it is anticipated that call centers will double down over the self-service options and will be exploring new co-sourcing environments from home.
In one way, the companies will experiment more with co-sourcing by making a flexible hybrid outsourcing model to connect customers and agents.
With the help of self-services, the call centers will refine the efforts and reduce the support staff workload, pulling them ahead of the competition and differentiating around meeting customers.
Every call center is different, and so is the working process. It is a warehouse of agents working and making a significant impact on reducing burnout and improving overall customer retention and satisfaction.
Hence, the hiring process of the call centers is fundamental to anticipate to fit the right candidate at the right place for serving the organization's legacy.
These call center agents are a necessary part of the customer support team, sales team, and overall development team across the industries and companies.
This article covered all the relevant insights of the call center hiring process, jobs to perform, training method, skill set to monitor, and the duties to carry out by an agent to a maximum extent.
Let's take a look at the key takeaways of the article:
- A call center refers to sales and customer service agents who handle the incoming and outgoing communication from prospects and existing customers.
- The call centers focus on customer satisfaction by offering overall support, from lead generation to order processing.
- There are, overall, six types of call centers that have scaled up to address the variety of customer and company needs.
- The six essential call centers include outbound call center, inbound call center, outsourcing call center, in-house call center, reactive call center, and proactive call center.
- The agents must have a vital skill set to deal with the multitudes of situations during the work process.
- The essential skills that an agent should possess to work in a call center are communication skills, working under pressure, efficient speed, problem-solving, empathy, team player, knowledge retention, and time management.
- A combination of the skill sets is critical to the success of a call center agent and significant for the success of the business.
- There are primarily four different positions coming under call center hiring.
- The position includes the role of call center agent, call center manager, team leader, and call center head.
- The organization undergoes training practices to check the candidate's qualification and experience to decide.
- The training process can be divided into two parts, i.e., before hiring and after hiring.
- The before hiring training practices include skills assessment and interview process.
- The after-hiring training process includes routine calls, sentiment analysis, live coaching, technical training, and feedback.
- An agent is required to be competent enough to undertake the overall functions and responsibilities specified to them.
- There is a list of fifteen duties to look after an agent under the hiring process.
- Evaluation of problems, boosting customer loyalty, following up with the customers, meeting personal targets, and carrying out the work honestly are some of the agent's responsibilities.
- The future of call centers is likely to accelerate because of flexibility in carrying out the work procedures and easing the burden of high volume calls.
- The companies are looking forward to co-sourcing and self-servicing to move ahead of the competition and differentiate around customers.