Career Spotlight: Call Center Agent
Working in a busy call center office with others or taking calls remotely from their homes, call center agents help customers with information and guidance about what the company offers, handle any problems customers face with the company or its offerings, and help customers complete the ordering process. One of the main responsibilities of a call center agent is to keep customers satisfied, which requires that you can communicate well and stay calm and polite even in stressful situations where callers are displeased with the company's policies. If you don't mind working irregular hours, and you have a passion for helping people and resolving problems, working as a call center agent can be a good fit and may possibly lead to future supervisory work.
A call center agent's job description is to provide courteous and professional phone support to callers, whether they need help troubleshooting a technical issue, want to sign up for an insurance policy or have a complaint about an online retailer's return policy. Examples of duties and responsibilities of a call center agent are answering customers' questions about its products and offering suggestions to fit their needs; handling the order process and taking payments; updating customer account information, as needed; and escalating calls when a manager or higher level representative is needed.
To most effectively help customers, call center agents need to understand the company's offerings and to be able to communicate policies and product information well. It is also important to be empathetic, have a positive attitude and to be able to stay calm and polite, even when callers get upset. Being organized and focused is necessary for the agent to input information into the company's computer systems while also talking to the caller.
Usually, call center agents do not need a college degree, and can find work as a call center agent with a high school education. If you want to work with insurance or financial products, however, you need to obtain any necessary state licensure to qualify you for these call center agent jobs, and to seek continuing education so that you stay current, once hired. After finding a position, you can expect a few weeks of training so you can learn to use the company's equipment and understand the products and services offered.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics listed a median wage of $32,890 a year or $15.81 an hour, for all customer service representatives as of May 2017, with half of the representatives making more and half earning less money. The lowest paid 10 percent earned below $21,370 a year or $10.27 an hour, and the best paid 10 percent had wages exceeding $54,330 a year or $26.12 hourly. Business support services were the top employer and offered pay averaging $30,060 a year or $14.45 an hour.
Call center agents often work in offices of retailers, insurance companies, wholesalers, technical and professional services companies, and business support services, although technology has allowed some agents to take calls from their home offices for more flexibility. If you work in a traditional call center, usually, you will experience a noisy work environment, since many agents handle calls simultaneously. Since customers may need support around the clock, your work schedule can vary, between very late or very early hours on any day of the week, including holidays. Part-time call center agent work, including remote work, is an option if you're seeking a second job or you want to work limited hours.
Years of Experience
You can expect to see pay increases the longer you work as a call center agent. Your call center may also have a training program for supervisory positions, enabling you to advance so that you will receive a more generous income. In April 2018, PayS
cale.com showed these average wages for call center agents, according to how many years of experience they had:
0 to 5 years: $26,000 5 to 10 years: $29,000 10 to 20 years: $31,000 20 or more years: $35,000
Job Growth Trend
The BLS expects call center agents to have very good job prospects between 2016 and 2026 with 136,300 jobs added for customer service representatives as a whole. While growth for all customer service representatives will be an average 5 percent during this decade, those who work at call centers will experience much faster job growth of 36 percent due to an increased need for companies to provide sales support and telephone customer service. These agents will also see more job openings due to turnover at companies.