Working in a call center

Working in a call center might seem pretty easy to imagine, but unless you've actually done the job, you've probably got no idea.

Amy White |

When I worked in retail, all I dreamed of was a sweet desk job with a regular schedule that included holidays off. As luck would have it, I happened to find that job in a call center. Working in a call center might seem pretty easy to imagine, but unless you've actually done the job, you've probably got no idea. Here's a look at one incredibly handsome dude's experience in a call center.

The interview

Different. For the job interview, I was put into a small room, alone, and I was told that when the phone rang, I should answer it. In hindsight, this made perfect sense. Why would they care what you look like when all you'll ever be doing is answering the phone? The interview consisted almost entirely of role playing different phone call scenarios. The entire process, including job offer and salary negotiations, were all handled over the phone. I never left the room.

Security clearance

This was no joke. My background is as clean as a whistle, but I'd hate to think what would have happened if it wasn't. The call center I was working for happened to be part of a financial institution (which probably had a lot to do with the intense screening). They took fingerprints, did a full background check and contacted previous employers - the whole nine yards.

Training

The on-boarding process for call center work is intense. I went through two full weeks of training that tried to equip me to handle almost any scenario. The training included traditional instruction, computer training modules, role playing and what they called "nesting," where you take calls and have a trainer or more tenured person available to you to answer calls.

The actual job

This was definitely where the rubber met the road. I could have been in training for a year, and I would have never been mentally prepared for this job. Customer interactions truly stretch the gamut. There are friendly old ladies, screaming middle-aged men and young people talking on their cell phones (and not really listening to anything you say to them).

Call centers are heavily automated now, and companies pay close attention to productivity levels. Everything you do will probably be measured: customer hold times, call times, time between calls, customer abandonment rates and actions taken on the call.

The best part

This was the first job I'd had that offered me some sort of schedule stability. I never had to worry when I'd be working the next week, because it was always the same. The company was large, so they could offer great perks for their employees. By far the best part of the job was the tuition reimbursement. This company offered new employees 100 percent reimbursement for any undergraduate degree and job-relevant graduate programs. And once you had been with the company for more than a year, they'd pay your entire tuition up front.

The worst part

This is going to sound silly, but for me it was being on the phone. Of course you know you'll be on the phone when you take a job in a call center, but the sheer volume of calls is hard to understand until you experience it. Your conversations go: "Thanks, have a great day. *beep* Hello, thank you for calling Company X." I found myself looking for any excuse possible to get up and walk around. For an eight hour shift we got two 15-minute breaks and a one-hour lunch, but that's pretty much it. If you don't do well with repetition, or you can't stay in one spot for a long time, this isn't the job for you.