Avoid Getting Fired From Your Customer Service Representative Job

Customer Service with a Smile

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In this economy, it is difficult to find employment. If you enjoy talking to people, accepting employment at a call center may be a viable option for you. Typically, call centers hire personnel to work as customer service representatives or inbound/outbound telephone sales representatives. Working at a call center can be very stressful, though. These jobs are usually very high paced, requiring some ability to think on your feet. They also require competence in navigating through computer programs quickly and multitasking. You will need to sit and wear a headset for long periods of time. Call centers are notorious for having a very high turnover, as many employees are terminated or quit at a high rate. In this article, I will discuss some ways to reduce your chances of getting fired.

Punctuality and good attendance are extremely important.

Make sure that you punch in for work on time. Some employers will require you to be logged into the phone system that you use. Be sure to log into and out of the phone at the correct times. This applies to the beginning of your shift, leaving for lunch breaks; returning from breaks; and logging out of the phone when your shift ends.

Safeguard customers’ personal information.

As a customer service rep, you may have access to confidential information. Your customers’ privacy should always be respected. Look up personal information in computers on a need to know basis only. In other words, you shouldn’t be nosing around and looking up account or transaction information on people that you know, including your own information. In this way you can’t be accused of any impropriety later. Find out what the company policies are in regards to handling calls with clients that you know. If you ever need to write down any of the customers’ personal information, remember to shred the paper that you wrote the information down on. Lock your computer every time you leave your workstation.

No cellular phone use while working.

Call centers usually have a policy against cellular phone use while working. The exact terms may vary from center to center. It is a good idea to keep your cell phone on vibrate and out of view during your work time. You may be perceived as unprofessional and inattentive to your customers if you use your cell phone during work hours. Make and accept phone calls on your own time. Also, there are call centers that discourage talking amongst customer service reps during and between calls.

Recite any required scripts as required by your employer.

It may seem a little tedious and rigid, yet some calls centers will require that scripts are read verbatim. If this is the case, then you must comply. Certain scripts are mandatory and are to be read verbatim by law. Calls are occasionally recorded for quality control purposes and there are staff members dedicated to listening to calls. If you are caught not reciting the script as instructed, you may be reprimanded. Repeated offenses could lead to termination. If you feel that you sound impersonal or “robotic” when reading scripts, vary your tones. Put some inflection and energy behind your words.

Courtesy goes a long way with customers.

You are at the frontline when working with customers as a representative of the company. First impressions are lasting, so treat customers with the utmost respect at all times. If you are rude to a customer, it could have a very negative and long lasting impact on the company’s brand. Pay attention to customers so that you don’t have to ask for the same information repeatedly. Engage in small talk, while looking up and processing information in the computer. In this way, there is no “dead air” or silence. Quality control departments are critical of “dead air” and customers sometimes feel abandoned when there is too much silence.

It is rude to “mute”(switching on the mute) when having a conversation with your customer. A customer service rep may do this if he or she has developed the bad habit of talking to someone else while talking to the customer. Customers aren’t stupid, and they usually take offense to this.

The customer is always right.

You may be forced to deal with a difficult or down right nasty customer from time to time. Don’t take a customer’s nasty attitude personally. The customer may either be having a bad day or be going through stressful life problems. So don’t let the customer bait you into an argument. Take a deep breath and treat the customer the way you would want to be treated under the same circumstances. Turn the volume down on the phone, if the customer is screaming at you. Never resort to insulting or cursing at the customer. Most call centers have zero tolerance for a CSR abruptly disconnecting customers. If it ever gets to the point that you can’t handle the call, it’s okay to get a supervisor to takeover the call. Unless you are a new employee, getting a supervisor to take calls should be a once in a while thing.

Be careful with hold times.

Think about it: Do you like to be put on hold? Keep hold times to a minimum (usually 2-3 minutes or less). If you are dealing with an issue that takes more than a few minutes to resolve, “refresh” your customer every few minutes. That is, take your customer off hold every 2 minutes, assuring the customer that you are addressing his or her issue and thank the customer for continuing to hold.

Pull out all the stops to make your sales.

If your position entails that you sell over the phone, make every effort to get the sale. Make suggestions to customers as needed, and make sure that your are always making an offer when possible. This is a numbers game, and with the economy in a slump, making sales is even harder. If you offer products to all customers that call, you increase your chances of getting sales. However, if you pick and choose who you offer products to, it’s almost a sure bet that you will not meet your sales objectives. If your customer says “no“, use every technique that you were taught in your training to overcome the objections. Some companies have no qualms about terminating employees who aren’t trying to meet sales objectives.

Don’t be tempted to abuse confidential information.

Most people have a conscience and are naturally prone to do the right thing. However, there are a small percentage of unscrupulous folks who have very little sense of right and wrong. Be forewarned: If, you are tempted to use confidential information for your own personal gain, you will be caught. Call centers are technologically advanced. In fact, some call centers have the ability to monitor each and every move of the customer service representative in real time. The company knows what you say to the customers and exactly where you navigate in the computer system to access information. There is the capability to do all of this in real time. Companies will not hesitate to file charges against employees suspected of fraud and identity theft. The company wants to ensure that their customers’ information is held in strict confidence and that none of their policies are violated. They have every right to do so since the company’s integrity and customer relations would be in jeopardy. So it isn’t worth the risk of termination and/or going prison.

Good luck in your career goals. I hope that this article helps. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Hypothetical Customer Service Situation

How would you handle a phone conversation with a customer who is rude, irate, and verbally abusive? This customer seems to be very upset over a prior poor customer service experience.

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Comments 4 comments

UndercoverAgent19 profile image

UndercoverAgent19 2 years ago

These are great tips! I've worked in the customer service field, but I've never worked in a call center. If I ever do, I will definitely refer to these pointers, especially the one about "refreshing" a customer who has been on hold for a while.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Good information covered here for those who work in this field. I can certainly imagine that it would be very challenging between customers and management -- high stress with the call metrics, monitoring of your calls, and little control of your own work.


AOkay12 profile image

AOkay12 2 years ago from Florida Author

@FlourishAnyway Those high levels of stress and pressure working in call centers is one of the reasons why there is such high employee turnover in that industry.


doopy 8 weeks ago

Ok... screw customer service and it's whole model. Shit companies gouge customers and pay their employees a small price of the pie to take the heat. I had a spanish speaking customer transferred to me because that rep couldn't understand him and he couldn't type a fricken password in so I reassured him he was doing it right and after like 5 minutes listening to him grunt and fuss with a simple password entry... I asked him if he had accomplished the task and he said no so I blew up and was like "Sir! you do this! Then this! and then this and you're done..." he was like "you are argnot that is the word. Threatened me that Ill lose my job and asked to speak to someone else...I think..his english was so bad. Just because you pay a bill for your service does not give you a right to be a dick or abuse call center reps... their local economy put them there and they are trying their best getting shit on all day back to back with little reprieve and for shit pay. If I had a dollar for every customer that called in to be abusive I would be rich. You can kiss us goodbye and welcome India and the Phillipines you can't understand half of them and they work for a third of the money.

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