They may not have a reputation for offering enlightenment, but call centre jobs can teach employees a surprising number of lessons. Here’s the top 10 lessons from call centres which prove that our headset-wearing workers are the real MVPs.
1. How to pronounce the world’s most difficult names
Call centre jobs will expose you to the most unpronounceable names in existence. Most of us would struggle to get our tongues around names like Adewale Akinnuoye-Aiyegbeni or Abhyavarshini Weerasethakul, but not call centre workers. Working in a call centre means that you inevitably become a skilled linguist, able to decipher any name or any accent. If name pronunciation had a difficulty level, call centre workers would be on ‘Pro’.
You don’t know the pain of an over-long phone call unless you work in a call centre. Whether it’s a customer taking ten minutes to read out their debit card number or a caller who doesn’t know how to find the Start menu on their ‘broken’ computer, call centre employees need patience by the bucket-load. That’s without even mentioning the world’s slowest computer systems which crash three times per phone call. To learn how to be patient in an environment which would make most people pull out their hair, call centre jobs can teach you all you need to know.
3. The fine art of letting people vent
Sometimes, all people need is to let off steam and have someone listen. Working in a call centre teaches you how to simply allow people to vent whilst offering an attentive ear, which is an area of knowledge ordinarily assigned to counsellors and psychologists.
4. How to take rejection on the chin
The majority of call centre jobs involve sales to some extent or another, and with sales also comes rejection. If you’re spending your days on the telephone selling services or products, you have to be quick in learning how to roll with the punches and deal with a wall of negativity. Since most of us are only human and handle rejection rather poorly, this is a lesson we could all benefit from learning.
5. The ‘extended’ phonetic alphabet
Most of us only ever learn the standard phonetic alphabet, in which ‘A’ is for ‘Alpha’, ‘B’ is for ‘Bravo’, ‘C’ is for ‘Charlie’ and so on and so forth. Call centre workers, however, are blessed with a much higher level of enlightenment on the phonetic alphabet. They work in a world in which ‘Smith’ is not ‘Sierra Mike India Tango Hotel’ to the average customer, but can be anything from ‘Sandwich Moonlight Izzy Teapot Hippo’ to ‘Squelching Mugwump Icky Tweed Hump’. There’s a whole world of whacky phonetic spellings out there that only call centre employees have access to, and the rest of us are simply missing out.
6. When to talk, and when to listen
Sometimes, the best thing you can do in a conversation is ‘um’ and ‘ahh’ in the right places. Even though they have extensive scripts perfectly memorised, call centre workers still know the value of a simple ‘ah’. They know when it’s time to step back and listen, and they know when it’s time to step in and speak up. That’s quite the rare conversational knack to have, wouldn’t you agree?
7. How to manage expectations
Every caller thinks that their problem is the most important crisis in the world and requires immediate resolution. For call centre workers, this means that you swiftly have to become an expert in managing expectations. Nobody wants to hear that their particular issue or request is going to take a month to settle, and employees have to tread a tricky tightrope of remaining sympathetic whilst delivering unwelcome news in plain terms. You have to salute that skill.
8. The power of tone of voice
If you’ve never worked in call centre jobs, you might not realise just how important your tone of voice is in subtly changing people’s moods. We hate to pull out a cliché but this one is true: it’s not what you say, it really is how you say it. A stint in a call centre will teach you how to turn your voice into a magical pacifier which diffuses tense situations and drains anger like water from a sponge. Not a bad skill to have, right?
9. Withholding judgment
Call centre workers hear the world’s most embarrassing email addresses over the telephone. Asking people to spell out “UKSHOTTESTBABE@YAHOO.COM” without so much as a snigger is unbelievably hard to do, especially when coupled with the whacky phonetic alphabet we mentioned earlier. We challenge anyone who doesn’t work in a call centre to attempt to ask a caller to repeat “SEXYSUFFOLKSINGLETON@HOTMAIL.CO.UK” without bursting into laughter.
10. How to stay calm
Working in a job in which you’re constantly dealing with rage-fuelled customers teaches nothing if not calmness. People in call centre jobs are the Buddhas of the professional world, able to keep their composure no matter what degree of customer fury they’re faced with. Not many of us can deal with sustained streams of anger as part and parcel of our working life, but call centre workers can take it in their stride. If you want to learn how to be truly calm, just work a day in any call centre.
Who’d have thought call centres could offer up so much valuable life wisdom? If you fancy steeping yourself in this kind of essential knowledge, why not take a look at our latest call centre jobs?