What does a call center representative do?
About 90% of people prefer to speak to live customer service agents than send an inquiry to a company via text, email, or chat. A call center representative is usually a customer-facing employee who resolves requests and concerns, or routes the caller to someone who can better resolve the request.
Types of call center representatives
You can be an inbound or outbound call center representative. Inbound reps answer inquiries and manage complaints, while outbound reps facilitate sales, market research, and collections. Providing a solid interface between the company and a customer does more than resolve the issue at hand; it’s also important for bringing on new customers and retaining the ones that the company has.
How you’ll connect with customers
You'll be responsible for fielding calls to other departments or taking care of the customer from start to finish. Call center representatives work alone or as part of a team to reach shared goals. You’ll usually have to reference and enter customer or order data within call center software and know your way around a computer. You'll also be responsible for communicating with people via other methods, such as:
- Social media
- Private messaging
What is the average salary of a call center representative?
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for a call center representative was $18.79 in 2021. That equates to an average annual salary of $39,070.
Why this salary range?
One of the reasons that the salary average and range are so low is that there are so many entry-level call center representative positions. The low barriers to learning how to become a call center representative allows recent high school or college graduates to get into the workforce in an industry of their choosing without needing extensive experience. The large number of entry-level positions available also makes this role a good option if you need a job quickly or are going back to work after spending some time off.
Level and location differences
Entry-level jobs typically don't pay as much as higher positions, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t managerial call center representative positions available at higher levels and pay scales. Also, industries such as natural gas, manufacturing, insurance, and credit remediation tend to pay more for this position. Call center representatives in some parts of the country make significantly more than those in other regions. For example, reps in California can expect an annual salary of more than $50,000.
The average pay for call center representatives is the highest in the following parts of the country:
Pro tip: If you want to find out which call center positions are available in your local area, type in “call center” plus your exact location into Spherion’s job search. You’ll find call center jobs near you.
Working as a call center representative
Working as a call center representative doesn’t require any manual labor because you typically sit at a desk and use a computer or other technology to interact with customers. Whether you work in an office or from home, you’ll need an internet connection and, usually, a telephone or softphone (telecom software).
Is there more than answering phone calls?
You'll have to be available to handle calls, but you should prepare for the possibility of other duties as well, such as data entry, data analysis, or call coaching. The pace of the job varies from fast-moving days to others where you're waiting for calls to come in. However, you’ll usually follow a consistent routine and perform similar tasks every day, which helps you learn the ropes.
Benefits of being a call center representative
This position suits many people because it doesn’t have a hefty learning curve. You’ll get trained on proprietary software, scripts, and procedures. Furthermore, you’ll gain experience in the following areas over time:
- Critical thinking
- Problem solving
- Interpersonal relationships
- Time management
- Verbal communication
What are the responsibilities of a call center representative?
The primary duty of a call center representative is to engage in communication with customers. In most cases, this means that you’ll be helping the caller with an issue that relates to your company’s product or service. Some of the specific responsibilities of a call center representative include:
- Learning how to use technology such as customer service software, VoIP solutions, automated telemarketing systems, and reporting tools
- Understanding when to direct calls to someone else or handle them yourself
- Acting as a liaison between other departments and your customers
- Updating databases
- Recording interactions with customers
- Tracking customer feedback and suggesting improvements to company processes in order to improve customer satisfaction scores
Be able to respond to feedback
About 64% of companies use agent monitoring to evaluate their representatives’ performance. As a call center representative, you’ll receive feedback on your interactions with customers in order to offer the most productive experience.
What type of equipment do call center representatives use?
Call center representatives use computers and telephones. This typically involves dialing into a phone system to make and receive phone calls. Sometimes you will use a traditional handset. Other companies use softphones or virtual phones that make VoIP calls over the internet through your computer. At times, you'll also take phone calls via the internet or on your cell phone. Some companies even have their call center representatives use video conferencing platforms to connect with customers.
Equipment for working remotely
If you work remotely, the company will likely provide you with equipment such as a laptop, telephone, headset, and software. You’ll be responsible for securing a reliable internet connection and connecting the calling software directly to your modem. Some companies don’t allow you to connect via Wi-Fi or work from public networks.
What is the work environment of a call center representative?
As a call center representative, you’ll usually work from home or in an office setting. If working on-site, it's likely you'll have your own office, cubicle, or workstation. Some call centers have open seating, which makes them noisy when multiple representatives are speaking at once. This requires you to be able to focus amid distractions.
Remote work environment
Reps who work from home typically operate from any room in the house. However, some call centers require you to have a dedicated office and phone. Still, there may be some flexibility in your work environment. It's common to work from any location with internet, giving you the opportunity to travel. If you work at a specific call center, however, this position doesn’t usually require you to go anywhere.
Who are your colleagues as a call center representative?
You’ll work by yourself most of the time if you’re a call center representative. However, you should expect to collaborate with other representatives on recording and data-entry tasks. Sometimes, you’ll have to communicate with managers and employees in other departments to gather information or access resources.
Who are call center representatives likely to work with?
Call center representatives are also likely to work with:
- Administrative assistants
- Help desk support professionals
- Human resource managers
- Bookkeeping departments
What is the work schedule of a call center representative?
Call center representatives usually work in shifts of at least eight hours. If the customer service department is open extended hours, shifts are usually staggered throughout the day and night. You'll usually have a set schedule that doesn’t vary from week to week. If some shifts are less desirable than others, however, the company will rotate you through various shifts every day or week.
Flexible vs. fixed schedules
If you work from home, expect to be on call during a specific shift. On the other hand, a remote worker that handles inquiries through emails often works at any time as long as they finish everything. You usually have the option to work part-time in this position, which makes it suitable for someone with other obligations such as child care, schoolwork, or another job.
What is the career outlook for a call center representative?
There are about 361,700 job openings for call center representatives every year. That number is not expected to change for the next decade.
The training that you receive on the job sets you up for growth in a variety of ways. As you get to know the company, you'll likely be eligible for an internal promotion. Some organizations move call center representatives to client-facing roles in other departments such as finance. This would give you a chance to learn more specific skills in fields like human resources or operations.
Next jobs after call center representative
A job like this offers the opportunity to take what you learn into management, sales, project management, executive assistant work, or human resources. If you perform a lot of data entry and recording, you gain knowledge that allows you to become an analyst. If you learn a great deal about a specific product or service, it's possible to become a product specialist. This would open the doors for you to work in marketing or design.
What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a call center representative?
Spherion is a valuable resource at any point in your job search, allowing you to stay competitive or actively find a new job. It’s not always easy to network, so Spherion does it for you, connecting you with opportunities across industries and businesses of all sizes.
The benefits of working with Spherion include:
- Weekly paychecks
- Flexible scheduling
- A dedicated point of contact to assist you
- A broad range of local job opportunities
- Training to further your career
What education do you need as a call center representative?
It's possible to get a job as a call center representative with a high school diploma. That means that there are plenty of opportunities for people with little or no work experience to find a job that gives them experience to further their career. An advanced degree may allow you to pursue a managerial or specialist position.
Skills & competencies
You don’t need any certifications to get a job as a call center representative. However, it's a good idea to brush up on your customer service skills by taking courses on positive interactions and customer psychology.
You should also be proficient at:
- Multitasking while talking on the phone
- Actively listening to inquiries and letting customers know that you'll facilitate the resolution
- Communicating in a positive, friendly manner
- Interpreting information and accessing resources to find solutions
- Using software in a fast-paced environment
Problem-solvers who can create a positive customer experience excel as call center representatives. Becoming a call center representative requires a willingness to learn clear communication skills and interpersonal techniques. Here are some