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Call Centers – “Call Now, Operators Are Standing By”

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    When you see a commercial with an announcer stating, “Call now, operators are standing by,” your call is being answered by a call center. Call centers are locations that can perform a variety of tasks for a business. According to Wikipedia. com, “A call centre or call center is a centralised office used for the purpose of receiving or transmitting a large volume of requests by telephone. An inbound call centre is operated by a company to administer incoming product support or information inquiries from consumers.

    Outbound call centers are operated for telemarketing, solicitation of charitable or political donations, debt collection and market research. ” (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Call_centre) Call center staffing is just as important as other jobs within a business. Often times, a call center is the first point of contact for a customer’s interaction with a company. Finding employees with the right set of skills for what can often be the first point of contact with a company can be difficult at times.

    These employees must often have good customer service skills and knowledge of the product for which they are supporting or selling. Presented here is a sample job description for a senior call center operator at ViewPoint Bank based in Plano, Texas. (https://www5. recruitingcenter. net/Clients/ViewPointBank/PublicJobs/controller. cfm? jbaction=JobProfile&Job_Id=11756&esid=az) This position is similar to those required for a senior teller within a “brick and mortar” bank. Summary Responsible for providing customer service to clients and assist with administrative functions.

    Assists Call Center Managers with execution of daily activities to ensure customer service objectives are met, clients are served professionally, and team members are in compliance with all policies/ procedures. Takes the lead in the office when the Customer Service Managers are not present. Essential Duties and Responsibilities: * Oversees projects related to the Call Center. * Reinforces superior customer service through his or her example along with appropriate observations and follow through with customers and employees. * Conducts periodic training to ensure optimum knowledge for all staff.

    * Maintains knowledge of phone system and the reporting capabilities. * Provides supervision, guidance, coaching, recognition, motivation and training to department personnel. * Accepts and resolves escalated customer calls. * Ensures audit compliance and quality control of all work processed within the department * Attends various product knowledge and customer service training presentations. * Ensures effective communication to staff and implementation of all policy and procedure changes as approved by Senior Management. * Consistently answers questions and recommends solutions in regards to customer inquiries.

    Including but not limited to approvals and requests as they apply to existing policies and procedures, keeping within assigned limits. * Assumes responsibility for various department functions in the absence of managers or staff members. Must be flexible to work alternate schedules as needed. * Performs other duties as assigned. Requirements/Qualifications: * Must have the ability to multitask and apply a keen attention to detail * Demonstrate excellent proficiency in personal computer applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. * Minimum of three years of related experience and/or training.

    Work related experience must consist of call center and/or financial industry. * Organizational and time management skills with the ability to provide leadership, supervision and training; demonstrated ability in organization and delegation skills. * Verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills with the ability to carry out instructions and instruct others, train personnel, read, analyze and interpret documents, understand procedures, write reports, speak clearly to customers and employees. * Ability to deal with problems involving multiple facets and variables in non-standardized situations.

    * High school diploma or GED, some college preferred. Based on this job description for this job, one can question how businesses can offshore this type of skill set. However, of the many American manufacturing jobs have been outsourced and moved overseas, call centers also reflect a major industry that has made the shift as well. Companies should consider this move with caution as there can be a negative impact basing this move with regard only to profit. According to the text book, page 144, “As of 2011, entry-level customer service representatives in India earn between $4,200 and $5,200 per year, a good salary by India’s standards.

    ” However, in a 2010 article posted at NPR. com, Carolyn Beeler states, “High inflation and double-digit annual raises in some sectors are pushing up the cost of labor in India. At the same time wages in the U. S. are falling and companies are rethinking the trade-offs associated with outsourcing. ” (http://www. npr. org/templates/story/story. php? storyId=129406588) In 2004, HP Computers opened a call center in India even though other tech companies such as Dell pulled out of these operations due to the impact on customers. (http://news. cnet.

    com/HP-sets-up-call-center-in-India/2100-1041_3-5157754. html) A simple internet search of HP customer service in forums shows that customers are still dissatisfied with this move and the level of service. So what skills must a call center employee truly have? In a candid article on MotherJones. com, it appears that only a non-Indian or American accent is required. (http://www. motherjones. com/politics/2011/05/indian-call-center-americanization? page=1) This article provided a candid look at how Indian call centers choose employees and train them. According Salary.

    com, the median salary range for a U. S. call center representative – inbound is around $30,000 (http://www1. salary. com/Call-Center-Representative-I-Inbound-Salary. html). This number is definitely nowhere near the double digit raise stated but perhaps that amount can be resolved by a statement on call center representatives working at home from the same NPR. com article, “It provides a lower cost point than other traditional means of onshore customer service,” says Chris Carrington, who runs Alpine Access, the Denver-based company that Quigley-Hogan works for.

    Carrington says the low overhead of having home-based workers allows him to charge 20 percent less for the same services provided by brick-and-mortar call centers in the U. S. ” Alpine Access is not the only company that is following this trend. According the textbook, JetBlue and American Airlines are also using this strategy for call centers. (page 162) This trend has shown to increase retention and performance is comparable with that of the traditional call

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