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Professional Challenges of Customer Service Representatives
Call Center Agents a Fast Changing Profession
Customer service representatives (CSR) or call center agents are considered the first line of defense of businesses offering various services. Almost all businesses that cater to a wide range of clients have outsourced the services of third party companies to accommodate customer calls usually concerning aftermarket concerns and offers. Call center agents handling company calls are confined in an environment that has limited space, they use computers connected to a secure line to address various issues of clients. There are also CSRs who are connected to the internet as the nature of their job requires. This is actually one of the most stressful occupations known today. And what makes it challenging is the monotony on the routine.
Many people are applying for this type of job because a lot are also resigning. Call centre companies massively hires people in a week because they cannot afford to have vacant seats for their clients otherwise they will lose them. These companies primarily value their business they forgot the importance of those who run them, the agents!
In any business it is important to think of how the working condition of your people should be like. They may work for you and you pay them but that does not mean they are slaves and you can do whatever you want with them, and impose rules not favourable to them. Companies should consider that they need to win the hearts of their workers. This is important because one passionate worker can make a difference. How much more if everyone on the floor is highly motivated? There will be no need to impose threat of sanctions after sanctions, you just have to smile and ask them nicely.
Businesses Employing Contact Agents
Phone, internet and cable service providers are some of the busiest businesses that accommodate customer calls. This is due to the fact that businesses involving entertainment and connecting people frequently requires interaction with their clients. Technical concerns are primarily the reason why clients of these businesses would call. For internet connections, a costumer would usually call due to slow internet connection. This commonly happens during peak hours when a lot of people would use the internet. The lines and air waves would be congested and CSRs or Technical Service Representatives (TSR) are usually being called up by customers to address their concern.
Customer Service Representatives or Technical Service Representatives have to be technically proficient in addressing various issues concerning internet service, because although there are common causes of slow internet connection it does not mean that they are always the cause. There are possibilities that internet connections may be virtually slow because of low memory. In this case CSRs or TSRs would advice customers to reset their PCs to clear the memory, or clear the temporary internet files using the browsers.
There are also instances where the physical connections from the PC to the line or the source of the connection from the service providers are accidentally damaged. In this case the CSR or TSR cannot do anything on their end but to dispatch a technician to perform physical repairs. There are lines of questioning that CSRs and TSRs are trained to follow before they can conclude with solutions on various issues. It is important that these representatives are well founded on technical matters. This is the reason why third party companies who hire CSRs or TSRs require their candidate applicants to have above average intelligent quotient. This is because it is convenient to train candidates with above average intelligent quotient, they learn fast even if they do not have technical expertise.
Contact Agents are Outsourced From Third Party Companies
There are also non technical businesses that require the services of Call Center Agents. Travel agencies and Credit card companies are just some of the non technical businesses that rely heavily on CSRs in their operation. Their CSRs are usually well founded on administrative skills, and also has proficiency in solving problems requiring mathematical operations.
Most companies in the US have high demand for the services of third party companies employing call center agents, these third party companies are also termed as Call Centers. Due to cost cutting measures and advances in information technology, companies hiring the services of call centers usually employ third party companies outside of US. Call center companies train their CSRs to be proficient in speaking American English prior to training them with technical and administrative modules.
Call center agents are best known for their professionalism in handling customer calls. They have to deal with different kinds of personalities. It is very challenging aside from handling different characters they need to have presence of mind in making their judgments. Not all people who possess the qualities required for a CSR or call center agent has what it takes to stay on the job. Their job is one of the most challenging as far as the physical and psychological aspect of the work is concerned.
The Challenges Involved in the Profession
The following are just some of the metrics that measures a contact agents' performance:
- Average Handling Time – Usually an agent is only given three minutes to resolve issues of customers. This part of the metric is sometimes not fair, because there are customers who love to stay on the line longer while their issues are being resolved. Also, an agent sometimes had to work their way in pacifying irate customers. This would usually take more than 3 minutes.
- First Call Resolution – At the end of each call the customer is being prompted to comment if the agent was able to resolve his or her issues. Usually answerable with yes or no. This evaluation is subjective on the part of the customers. There are customers who does not give fair judgment, say for instance if they were pissed because of their issues they would evaluate the CSRs or TSRs with a “No” even if their issues were resolved.
- Quality – There are line questions that are required of the agents to ask their customers as they resolve issues, it is more like a script that should not be missed. After resolving issues and before ending a call, agents are required to up-sell a product or service. Failure to observe line questions would affect quality.
- Escalation Rate – There are calls that are beyond the agents’ authority so they usually refer the customers to another group that can appropriately assist the customer. Escalation rate is being counted against the agent, so the more they escalate customers the more that their evaluation suffers. We can say that this part of the metric is not fair unless proven to be justifiable, like say for instance the agent would escalate 75 percent of the calls. But even so, each call should be properly classified if indeed it requires escalation.
These metrics are challenges that call center agents face every day. The most challenging part is dealing with irate customers. Irate customers can be unreasonable most of the time. They also have a tendency to mess with the agents’ statistics by giving the agent negative feedback regardless of the agents’ effort in resolving his or her issues. This affects the agents psychologically.
The work of a call center agent is not easy, it may appear convenient but another challenge is the physical part. Since most of the contact agents are based outside of the United States their time zones are different, this means that contact agents may be at work when they should actually be asleep.
If contact agents are not careful in looking after their health they have a tendency to get sick. The nature of their work requires that they sit down in front of a computer for more than eight hours and entertain customers. They lack exercise and their body clock is twisted. If their diet is not carefully monitored and they have an unhealthy dietary habit, their body's immune system will weaken. The only consolation contact agents may have is a reasonable salary which differs from various companies that employ their services.