Everyone has an opinion on what working in a call center feels like. The truth is, working as a call center agent can be a rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling experience—sometimes, all at once.
Whether you’re fully invested in getting a call center job or just want to test the waters, you need to have the full picture before you dive in.
As every call center employee can confirm, this job is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for everyone. But for those who do choose this career, there are many opportunities ahead.
What Do Call Centers Actually Do?
A call center is an office-based business focused on handling customer calls.
Sometimes, they only focus on customer support. They may add sales and marketing duties to their responsibilities, too. Most of the time, call centers are outsourced by other businesses so that they can focus on day-to-day operations.
Examples of Call Center Offices in Real Life
In the retail sector, for example, a call center will handle in-store pick-up requests and questions, returns, and complaints. In ecommerce, a call center can take care of orders, returns, complaints, warranties, and more. Phone companies and other service-based companies frequently use call centers to handle billing, technical support, and sales.
There are also call centers that specialize in specific industries or tasks, such as those in the tech sector. Some call centers focus on outbound calls only, meaning their agents make the calls instead of receiving them.
Likewise, healthcare or legal call centers employ people who are either very-well trained in these industries or have worked in a similar branch. This helps them understand the client’s needs better and provide them with the appropriate solutions.
The Overall Call Center Work Environment
An in-person call center office is a bustling place: on average, an agent can take up to 50 calls in a day. Multiply that by tens of agents working from the same office, and you can easily imagine the noise.
Call centers can also be energizing and friendly. People working in call centers frequently create life-long bonds of camaraderie since they share the same challenges and goals.
There are many misconceptions about working in call centers. One of them is that you’re on the phone all day. In fact, a call center agent will frequently have to write emails, create reports, train, and work on special projects when not answering calls.
Call center work requires a lot of flexibility and willingness to learn. Since many call centers are open 24/7, this job also requires openness to shift work. If you can’t work an afternoon or night shift, it might not be the right choice.
More than anything, working in a call center requires that you like people. You will have to handle customer issues, coordinate with colleagues in other departments, and know how to build connections.
Working From Home vs. In a Call Center Office
Most of the work done by call center agents happens on a computer using VoIP. That means that a lot of call center work can be done from home.
Working remotely and working from an office are very similar for call center agents. You still need to meet a quota, fix issues, collaborate, and build relationships with the customers.
The benefit of working from home is that you might have an easier time focusing, as you won’t be surrounded by as much noise.
The downside is that collaboration can be a bit more tedious working from home. In a call center office, you can quickly ask your colleagues for help or information. When working from home, this process might take more time and effort.
What to Expect Working in Different Types of Call Center Offices
There are multiple types of call centers, each with its own ups and downs. Here’s what you can expect from each.
Inbound Call Center Office
Inbound call centers are what most people think of when they think of a call center. When you call customer support, make an order via phone, or have a question regarding a product, you’re calling an inbound call center office.
This job is suitable for friendly, patient people who are good listeners and customer-centric. To do well here, you need to have a high level of empathy, be resilient, and always seek the best solution for customers.
It also helps if you’re a good problem solver and genuinely enjoy helping people find effective solutions to their issues.
This career path can be rewarding, as there are many growth opportunities and a lot of variety in the types of calls you encounter. However, you may sometimes have to deal with difficult customers and high stress levels, depending on the nature of the calls you receive.
Outbound Call Center Office
Outbound call centers typically handle sales and outreach. For instance, when you get a call from health insurance providers with offers, these calls are most likely coming from a call center.
This type of call center is great for a specific call center skill set: someone who is extroverted, persuasive, and likes interacting with people.
You need to know how to convince consumers to buy more or take action. And it helps if you truly enjoy talking to people throughout the day and like connecting buyers with products or services that can make their lives easier.
The main advantage of working here is the opportunity to grow and make money. Very often, people from this type of job move into sales. Even if they stay in call centers, they’re able to earn more, as many companies offer incentives for high-performing call center agents.
The disadvantage? The stakes can be very high. If you don’t meet the quota, you won’t be able to keep your job for long.
Multichannel Call Center Offices
These call center offices usually handle requests from several sources, via phone, Facebook messenger, chats, WhatsApp, and so on. As a general rule, one agent doesn’t handle all channels at once, but is assigned to one channel according to company structure and policy.
Multichannel call center offices might be quieter than, say, inbound call centers. But at the same time, they can feel more chaotic, especially because there is more than one way that customers are reaching the employees.
If you’re a highly energetic person willing to go the extra mile to solve problems but you’re not particularly keen to talk on the phone every day, this might be the place for you.
The main benefit of working here lies in the diversity of the tasks and channels you will deal with. That’s what makes this type of call center perfect for someone who gets easily bored in routine jobs.
The downside, however, is that you might find this type of call center more stressful than the traditional ones.
Omnichannel Call Center Office
Omnichannel call center offices are typically dedicated to VIP customers. This type of call center is a place where different departments converge into one problem-solving matrix.
To work in this kind of call center, you need to be proactive, resourceful, and have a comprehensive understanding of a given company’s products or services. You will also need to work well with data and have great analytical skills.
Most often, working in an omnichannel call center comes with higher pay, since you are handling premium products and VIP customers. However, the stress and the expectations also tend to be higher.
Virtual Call Center Office
A virtual call center office is just like any other call center office, except it doesn’t have a physical location. It all happens remotely.
If you are friendly, diligent, self-disciplined, and devoted to delivering great work, a virtual call center can be a wonderful opportunity. It’s a work from home position, so you can save time and money you’d otherwise spend on commuting. It also offers a decent income and more flexibility, in case you need to bring the kids home from school in the afternoon.
The downside is that virtual call centers can be paid less, might be unstable, and can feel solitary. The camaraderie of traditional call centers isn’t present when you work in these types of positions.
7 Roles that Make Call Centers Tick
Call centers aren’t only about fancy headsets and virtual phones. They’re all about the people—the ones who work there and the ones who call. Here are some typical roles you’re bound to encounter in any given call center:
- Call Center Agent: The person handling the calls
- Call Center Team Leader: The manager ensuring the team performs well
- Quality Analyst: Someone who handles complaints and acts as an objective eye when needed
- Trainer/Coach: The person who helps both new employees and older ones grow into more experienced employees
- Customer Experience Officer (CXO): The C-level executive who oversees the entire call center operation, with a focus on creating a memorable customer experience
- Operations Manager: The person who stands next to the founder/CEO and ensures paperwork is done, meetings are scheduled, and the CEO has a backup in case they can’t be in a meeting.
- Human Resources: The people who hire new talent and provide them with onboarding support
Typical Tech You’ll See in a Call Center Office
If you’re wondering what type of technology you might need to learn and work with in a call center, here are some of the most notable devices and software you’ll find:
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Systems: Helps to route and manage incoming calls effectively
- ACD (Automatic Call Distributor) Systems: Distributes calls to agents based on factors such as availability and skill level
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems: Helps to store customer data, track interactions, and assist with providing personalized solutions for customers
- CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) Systems: Allows call center agents to access customer information while on the call
- Omnichannel inboxes: Collects questions and messages from multiple sources, like WhatsApp and other channels
- Knowledge base: Where all the product info lives and where you and your customers can find instructions on specific features
Looking Forward: Are Call Centers Here to Stay?
Without a doubt, yes.
The way they look may change over time, but call centers will continue to exist for as long as buyers have questions.
If you want to work in a call center, know it’s not a dead-end. On the contrary, there are many vertical and horizontal growth opportunities. Plus, the work environment is usually great, and the pay isn’t bad either.
Want to learn more about working as a call center agent? We have two guides to check out: