Are your friends always calling you with problems because they know you’ll tell them what to do? Did Verizon make a special double-unlimited cell phone plan just for you? Then why not get paid good money to talk people through problems and answer questions with a call center job?
Nearly all major companies use call centers - either on site or across the globe - to offer customer service and sell products or services. And while not all call center jobs are the same, you’ll need to have these talents, no matter where you work.
What you need to have:
Outgoing and energetic attitude
It’s a fact: We’ve all had bad customer service over the phone. (Some of us have smashed cell phones as evidence.) Now think back to those times when you had really good service... Remember how you were smiling after the call ended, because you got exactly what you needed? This is your motivation.
Good listening skills
Practice active listening - don’t interrupt customers, but engage them. Make sure you understand what they’re asking. Ask questions. You may have scripts and cues to read from, but don’t be a robot. (And don’t tell them any bad jokes.)
If you’ve tried to program your DVR while eating lunch and text messaging your friend - all at once - then you should be cool juggling multiple tasks at work.
Excellent problem-solving capabilities
If one train is heading west at 85 m.p.h. and another train is heading east at 72 m.p.h., then how long until…Zzzz. Just kidding, you won’t need this kind of problem-solving ability. But you will need to think fast and be creative to solve complex customer issues.
You should be familiar with basic programs (Windows, Excel, Word, etc.) and be able to enter data quickly. Most call centers have some system for recording call information.
What you can expect:
Expect to work 30-40 hours a week. Many call centers are open 24/7, 365 days a year, giving you great scheduling flexibility. Of course, that can also work against you. If you’re working at the Toys”R”Us call center, be prepared for a whole lot of calls from desperate parents on Christmas.
If you're someone who likes to be comfortable in your own threads, call center jobs could be right up your alley. You’ll probably get to design your own wardrobe. Just pick something comfortable. (But no fuzzy bunny slippers.)
Finally, a call center can be a high-stress, intense environment in which it's important to always be a smooth operator. Because of the nature of the work, your breaks may be fairly regimented. You might want to learn some deep breathing techniques and a few simple exercises you can complete right there at your desk when things get hectic. Just remember, if you treat people with the respect they deserve, you should receive the same in return.
One more thing: Be sure to bring a comb with you to call center jobs if you have a date planned afterward. You don't want to be seen in public with "headphone head."