Direct Line Group

All about becoming a Contact Centre Worker

Posted by Direct Line Group at 06:39 PM

All about being a Contact Centre Worker

It’s estimated that call and contact centres employ nearly 5% of the UK workforce. That statistic not only shows how crucial this role is in supporting businesses and organisations, but also that it is a role many people enjoy. Working in a contact centre presents many challenges and triumphs, and there is no doubt that it will appeal most to the ‘people person’. There are all sorts of contexts in which you might work, from advice lines for consumers to emergency support for insurance companies in response to unforeseen extreme weather events.

What does a Contact Centre Worker do?

Essentially contact centre workers are the first point of contact for members of the public or other businesses who need help, information, support, guidance, or sometimes just a receptive ear. They will answer queries by email, on the phone or by post, so solid verbal and writing skills underpin most roles. Sometimes workers must follow a specific script that helps direct the customer through the relevant channels to the information or guidance they are looking for. Other contact centre workers can be a lot more agile and intuitive in how they respond to customers. In both scenarios information is captured about everything from the amount of ‘traffic’ passing through the contact centre to customer feedback. Often staff will be working to meet targets to improve customer satisfaction.

What skills do you need?

It almost goes without saying that people skills are paramount to the role. There may be times when you must respond to upset customers, so an unflappable and patient demeanor is helpful. Sometimes customers are talkers and your job is to support them through to the solution they are looking for politely and confidently. Customer care is at the centre of everything you do, so it’s important you are clear in how you can communicate. You must be friendly without overstepping those professional boundaries, so confidence and a good telephone manner are basic requirements. It’s important to be a good listener, not only because some of the people you deal with might have hearing impairments or be speakers of other languages, but because effective listening helps you to get to the heart of their enquiry or concern. It’s also important to communicate and work effectively with your colleagues. Often information must be documented and communicated between teams, so a logical and considered approach to written work often contributes to the smooth running of the business or organisation as a whole.

What qualifications do you need?

Though no specific qualifications are necessary you can sign up to training courses through companies like Real Results. Though not essential, some training can be advantageous when you’re looking for work. These include: 
  • Level 1 Award/Certificate for introduction to Customer Service
  • Level 1 Certificate for Introduction to the Contact Centre Industry
Good standards of literacy, numeracy and solid IT skills underpin most contact centre roles. Employers are most interested in personal qualities over qualifications and are looking for the right personality to fill the role. Job interviews may involve assessing your practical keyboard and telephone skills. Some roles may require more specialised knowledge, for example in technical support. Apprenticeship schemes exist within some organisations and gaining work experience is also an advantage if you are looking for work straight out of school.

What potential career progression is there?

Most companies and organisations provide in-house training to help you to advance within your role. Mentors and supervisors are often available early on in your role to help you to acclimatise. The Institute of Customer Service supply continued professional development options and opportunities to network, and many employers are keen to support your accessing these. Industry-specific qualifications are also helpful if you are working in a specific field. NVQ level 2 and 3 qualifications in Customer Service and Contact Centre Operations are also available through many colleges.
Look out for jobs in local papers or advertised on company websites. Recruitment agencies often seek call centre operators, particularly when companies experience busy times of year, for example Christmas or in response to a particular promotion, activity or event. It is likely you will be able to progress to supervisory and perhaps management roles with time and experience.

What’s great about being a Contact Centre Worker?

If you love working with people, helping them out, and offering support and guidance, then this public-friendly role is ideal for you. You’ll love being able to support people through to their desired outcome. You can make a genuine difference to someone’s mood, day and overall well being simply by employing the best qualities of your personality. There is satisfaction to be gained by working constructively with colleagues towards a goal. You have to be quick thinking, positive and friendly in all your communication, which helps to make a place of work cohesive and dynamic and can genuinely impact positively on the lives of others. If you are target-driven then you will have fun being both helpful and efficient in your approach to your work. Call centre work can be varied depending upon the industry in which you are working. There are opportunities to progress and take on more responsibility and good organisations will support and nurture talent. 

What to do next?

Industry magazines like Call Centre Helper are rich with career advice and guidance, and are worth exploring. If you would like to gain experience have a go at contacting companies directly, or look out for internships.

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