People working in call centre executive jobs have one of the most important customer-facing jobs at any company. Keeping customers satisfied and loyal is one of the greatest challenges any business faces, and repeat business is incredibly valuable. Customers' perceptions of a company are almost always shaped by the customer service team, meaning individuals in these roles are on the front line of the battle to secure repeat business and build the organisation's reputation. This article will explain what call centre executives actually do on a daily basis, and provide advice for any candidates considering applying for a role in this area.
Key skills for the call centre executive role
Key skills for contact centre executives include the following:
- Organisation – the ability to manage shift patterns, take care of admin and make sure everything in the centre runs smoothly, even with fluctuating call volumes.
- Problem-solving – the ability to handle complex enquiries and also surmount the everyday challenges involved in adjusting resources to meet demand.
- Communication – necessary for dealing effectively with customers and also for developing a good, positive relationship with staff.
- Leadership – inspiring and motivating staff and giving them the emotional support they need when dealing with difficult customers.
Because call centres use increasingly complex equipment to manage enquiries, it really helps if executives have some technical experience. More important than being familiar with every system is having a good understanding of the underlying ideas, making it possible to adapt quickly to new systems. It’s also useful to have good training skills so as to help new staff members learn the ropes.
Contact centre work
Customer service staff deal directly with customers, handling their questions, queries and complaints. Contact centre workers will usually be responsible for helping customers to get the most out of the service they are paying for, and for keeping their satisfaction levels high. Individuals in these roles may be tasked with a variety of jobs, whether it's helping customers set up new accounts, or providing information to them about their bills.
The variety of requests individuals in these roles face means they require a very specific set of skills. The core skill any call centre executive needs is to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with any caller. Having the ability to establish rapport with anybody who calls up is vitally important, as customers want to feel understood and valued when ringing a company. Call centre workers also need to be able to problem solve quickly, and think clearly and logically under pressure. The best call centre workers combine these skills in order to offer a service that is friendly, yet speedy and efficient. A detailed knowledge of the company's products or services is likely to be required, and patience and empathy when dealing with customers is also useful in some circumstances – especially when dealing with less technically minded customers, for example.
Managing a contact centre
Working as a customer service executive means supervising all these activities as well as dealing with matters like recruitment, data collection and report writing. It also means stepping in to handle particularly difficult customers or challenging enquiries, and handling callers who are unhappy with the service they’ve received from staff in the contact centre team. In a small contact centre, all executives will normally have roles on the board, making key decisions about the company’s future. In larger ones they may have superiors to report to, with whom they will have to negotiate to make sure the centre has the resources it needs to do its job properly. They also have responsibility for following health and safety rules and making sure all staff feel safe and supported at work.
Contact centre executives are often responsible for assessing the performance of equipment (including both hardware and software and identifying when new purchases must be made in order to keep pace with competitor. This means they need to keep track of new developments in the field by reading trade journals and, where possible, networking with people working in similar roles elsewhere.
Salary and perks
The average salary earned by UK call centre executives is £26,500 per annum, with some experienced ones earning £40,000. Pay tends to grow slowly over the first five years or so, but companies will offer a lot to secure the services of experienced managers. In some call centre executive roles, performance-related bonuses are also available.
In smaller call centres, working hours are usually restricted either to nine to five – for business to business work – or from noon to eight, for some centres serving the public, as this gives customers the opportunity to call after they get home from work. Many larger centres, however, operate around the clock, usually running three separate shifts. This can provide some flexibility to executives who want to fit their work around domestic responsibilities or busy social lives.
Variations on the role
There are many different types of call centre role, and practically any company that deals with customers - and values their satisfaction levels - has a customer services department. Some companies also ask customer service executives to deal with incoming sales calls, assisting people who are interested in purchasing from the company. Equally, many call centre workers will be asked to gently upsell or cross-sell to existing customers, encouraging them to invest more in the company. A growing trend is for companies to outsource their call centre departments to an external company to save money. The result of this is the creation of contact centre jobs where individuals need to be extremely flexible, and willing to multitask in order to deal with the varied enquiries and requests they receive from customers of multiple different companies.
The growth potential for customer service executives is generally high, with many opportunities to progress up the pay scale. Line manager roles are frequently up for grabs, while individuals who excel may be considered for more senior management positions in the future. They can also progress to become the head of customer service, for example, taking on responsibility for overall strategy in a large organisation.