Call center agents work for a variety of businesses making calls to potential customers and answering calls from customers. If they make calls, they often pitch products according to a script. They may also ask existing customers of a business to purchase additional services. If they answer calls, they often address customer complaints or answer questions. They know a good deal about the products and services the company offers. Call center agents who do both of these jobs are referred to as blended agents, and the place where they work is called a blended call center.
As the job 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, email, or online chat in a professional manner.
- Solicit sales, provide information about products and services, or handle complaints.
- 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 similar job of customer service representative. As with customer service reps, call center agent salaries vary according to the geographical area, industry, and the 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)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
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 policies, may require a license.
Call Center Agent Skills & Competencies
Successful call center agents need to have the following skills to perform their job successfully:
- Active listening: To solve customer problems, it is essential that call center agents understand the problem. That can only happen by carefully listening to what customers say.
- Verbal communication: The ability to accurately communicate information to others helps call center agents avoid misunderstandings.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: When working with a client, call center agents must identify the problem and suggest potential solutions. Then they decide which solution is best and implement it.
- Interpersonal skills: They must understand the needs and motivations of clients, negotiate with them, and persuade them.
- Tenacity: Call center agents who sell a product must keep the person they called on the phone as long as possible to get their sales pitch across.
- Resiliency and patience: They must quickly shrug off rejection when making sales calls and patiently deal with people who are angry when 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 the other people speaking around them. They must not mind spending a lot of their time on the telephone or interacting with customers using email or online chat.
Call center agent jobs may be full-time or part-time. Agents typically 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:
- Receptionist: $29,140
- Concierge: $30,400
- Lodging manager: $53,390
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018