I survived 14 months at a call center that ate most other people alive in less than 3. I did customer service for Sprint.
Be prepared for a lot of nasty, jackass customers.
A few things to bear in mind:
- Try NOT to take it personally. The angry callers are pissed off at your company, NOT you.
- Even if you aren't allowed to hang up on them (I wasn't), you are usually always allowed to refuse to keep talking to them (or refer them to a supervisor) if they refuse to stop cussing.
- Be prepared to face time management to the extreme. Every SECOND of your shift is perfectly accounted for. At my call center we got 30 minutes paid break time (usually taken as two 15s) and one 30 minute unpaid lunch, BUT any other break time HAD to come from the paid block of 30. Want to take a smoke break? You have to use that time. Need to go to the bathroom in the middle of your shift? You have to use that time.
I know for me, if the time was all used up and I needed a potty break, I HAD to go off the clock to take it.
Once, I started feeling ill during my shift. I logged out of my system and took 45 minutes to come around. I stayed nearly 40 minutes late to make up the time.
- Get used to NOT leaving on time. Shift end at 7 PM? Great. Call comes in at 6:54 and keeps you busy until 7:25? Too bad, so sad, can't go home yet.
- Call center management is often...not very good, to put it nicely. Be prepared to take some shit from your bosses and the QA team (the people who listen to and evaluate your calls).
- Remember, policy is king. Usually you CANNOT fail a call for following policy, even if the customer is completely unsatisfied at the end (I actually managed to fail a call because of this once but it was because, as mentioned above, our QA team was largely useless and my Supervisor had no interest in hearing my appeal of the 0 score).
- You won't learn a lot in training. I came out of training knowing only the bare basics and a LOT of what I learned was basically self taught through trial and error or combing the internal knowledge base looking for a solution. The job had 6 weeks of training (3 classroom, 3 on phones) but it took me 6 MONTHS to reach a point where I really felt I had the job down.
- You will come home highly stressed a lot of the time. It comes with the territory.
- In general, if you show up on time every day and put in your 8 hours, they'll usually keep you around. The high turnover at call centers means they're happy enough if you keep coming back.
- And finally, a couple of positives: You will work with some great and awesome people. Even though I wasn't big on a lot of my co-workers or managers at my center, there were some people I loved. I even made a point to tell one of my former Supervisors a few days before I left the company how awesome I thought she was.
You will, on rare occasions, deal with some awesome customers too. Not everyone is an angry prick. Enjoy the ones that put you in a good mood, there's far too few of them out there.
"If we refund your money, give you a free replacement and shoot the manager, then will you be happy?" - sign seen in a restaurant