What Does a Call Center Agent Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
Call center agents work for a variety of businesses making calls to potential customers and/or answering calls from customers. If they're making calls, they often pitch products according to a script. They may also ask existing customers of a business to purchase additional services.
If they're answering calls, they often address customer complaints or answer questions. As such, they should know a good deal about the products and services the company offers.
Call center agents who do both of those jobs are referred to as blended agents, and the place where they work is called a blended call center.
As the job's name suggests, call center agents work in groups at a single location. Their work is usually supervised by someone who can listen in on calls, and they are often expected to make or answer a certain number of calls an hour or during a shift.
Call Center Agent Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following tasks:
- Interact with customers over the phone—or via email or in online chats—in a professional manner
- Solicit sales, provide information about products and services, or handle complaints
- Be able to work in an open-plan call center setting
- Keep customer data secure
Call center agents must have a clear and friendly telephone voice. They are front-line employees for a company and strongly influence how customers feel about it.
Call Center Agent Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide salary data specifically for call center agents, but it does for the very similar job of customer service representative. As with call center agents, customer service representatives' salaries vary according to geographical area, industry, and number of years on the job.
- Median Annual Salary: $33,750 ($16.23/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $55,310 ($26.59/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $22,140 ($10.65/hour)
Education, Training, & Certification
You can become a call center agent with just a high school diploma or the equivalency. Most employers provide on-the-job training that may range from a few weeks to several months, depending on the industry.
Training of call center agents in the financial and insurance industries is usually more extensive and involves learning about government regulations. In some states, jobs that involve selling or providing information about specific products—for example, financial instruments and insurance polices—may require a license.
Call Center Agent Skills & Competencies
Successful call center agents need to have the following skills to be able to perform their job successfully:
- Active listening: To solve customers' problems, it is essential that call center agents understand what they are. That can only happen by carefully listening to what the customers are saying.
- Verbal communication: The ability to accurately communicate information to others will help call center agents avoid misunderstandings.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: When working with a client, call center agents must be able to identify a problem and potential solutions. Then they have to decide which solution is best and implement it.
- Interpersonal skills: They must understand the needs and motivations of clients and be able to negotiate with them and persuade them.
- Tenacity: Call center agents who are trying to sell something must be able to keep the person they've called on the phone as long as possible to get their sales pitch across.
- Resiliency and patience: They must be able to quickly shrug off rejection if they're making sales calls and patiently deal with people who are angry if they're answering calls from customers with complaints.
The BLS predicts the number of customer service rep jobs will grow at a 5% pace from 2016 to 2026. That's as fast as the average job.
A call center can be crowded and noisy, so agents must be able to tune out the sounds made by other people speaking around them. They must not mind spending a lot of their time on the telephone or interacting with customers via email or online chat.
Call center agent jobs may be full-time or part-time. Agents typically have to work at least some hours in the evenings and nights and on weekends and holidays.
How to Get the Job
WRITE A TARGETED RESUME AND COVER LETTER
REHEARSE COMMONLY ASKED INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Many of the same questions come up during interviews with human resources employees and hiring managers. Review these questions and ways to answer them that will impress your interviewer.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in becoming call center agents might also consider the following jobs. The figures provided are median annual salaries:
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018