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One of the most thankless jobs around.
Customer Service Adviser
Member Name: Boonoiy
Customer Service Adviser
Date: 28/01/02, updated on 07/08/02 (605 review reads)
Advantages: Easy to get these types of job, Regular work, Lots of jobs around
Disadvantages: Repetitive and dull at times, Angry callers
I'd like to set the record straight and give you the viewpoint from the other side, the life of a Customer Services representative.
Finding the job:
The easiest way to get into Customer Services is through an agency, there's lots around and it is the job that just about anybody with half an ounce of common sense can do.
So, sign on with the agency of your choice (Brook Street, Addecco and Reid Employment all have specialised sections which deal with Customer Service as a job), hand over your lovingly prepared CV, take their typing tests and attend their introductory interview then await the call to be sent off for training at the Customer Services department of one of many companies that they have on their books. Not many agencies send you off for interviews at these places, as they are mainly jobs that you can walk into and be trained. They'll usually make the decision based on your CV and interview at the agency.
Other than this, see a job in the paper or advertised somewhere, apply in writing, attend the interview and see how it goes from there. As I say, it's easy to get this type of job as a rule.
The jobs are usually given on a temp to permenant basis, begin with the agency then go into the employment of the company.
Once you've started:
this on my own personal experience of working a summer job with one of the UK's leading Digital TV suppliers.
I began with training, the interview and CV were all passed over to the Agency's client and I was given a start date just 2 days after signing on. The training began on a Wednesday and in a group of 10 people we began to get involved with the business in hand. The Digital service (I'm being very discreet today) billing, the range of options available to the subscriber, the problems involved with the Digiboxes and the ways to deal with the irate customers were all explained to us in great detail. On our first day we had a bit of an idea of the service but went through it in a lot of detail, lots to learn as we'd only seen the basics before on adverts etc. The services were all laid out for us and by the following Wednesday we were put onto the phones.
Once you get on a phone you are in a whole new world, the life of a Customer Services rep is not the happiest one to be living, by far and away the worst thing about it is THE CUSTOMERS! "BUT NO" I hear you cry, that's what you're there for, to listen patiently and be as helpful as you can. In a way you are right, the thing is that the members of the public (you tend to get a bit of a "them and us" outlook on life shortly after starting and it becomes a kind of daily skirmish). You need to be polite in the face of the most idiotic of complaints, you need to know your limitations - don't go giving out the wrong advice, you need to be constantly ready to take the next call and you need to be able to show initiative. It's one of those jobs that's easy to get into and to do, to do it well you need to be a bit dedicated and be able to think on your feet.
The job is closely monitored, once you're out of the training stage you are expected to make the odd mistake with the complexities of the se
rvices you're supposed to know and the companies don't really jump on you too much. There is generally a supervisor around for on the spot help should you need it. The main thing is to remain calm and always act confident on the phone.
You'll be using a headset in this line of work. The mouthpiece will be moveable for comfort and an earpiece/headphone so as you can hear the customer (well, no point in being there if you can't) The monitor will be in from of you and you'll be able to look into the accounts and personal details of the person you'r4e dealing with. Each company will have a similar database - usually using Microsoft Access, a very easy and reliable system to find your way around. If not based on Access than the details are always explained to you and you'll be able to offer help. An "Idle" button will be available for the times you need to go on a break or to the loo etc. and the boss usually closely watches your idle times.
The problems arise when you are unable to help someone, this can create real problems as you are often not allowed to hang up on people (well, why would you?) unless they're being openly abusive to you, even then you need to warn them first. So, if you've got a call that is demanding to be transferred to Technical Support and you're not allowed to do it, you're stumped. You can end up sitting on the line with someone for 10 minutes trying to explain that Tech will not be take the call from you and that there's nothing you can do. So, a warning to the callers (you know who you are), believe that they can't help when they say so and ask for a supervisor straight away - they'll usually explain it better anyway and it'll be a relief to the call-handler. You are often not allowed to pass the call on to a supervisor until the caller demands it.
As a Customer Service Adviser you are expected to be available all the time once you'
ve logged into the phone and your computer, you need to be able to put any bad calls out of your mind straight away as you'll be getting another call directly after the bad one and if you're still wound up you will not be able to deal with the caller in the correct way that the customer and the company expects from calling. The skill of being able to apologise and seem sincere is essential - get a call which begins "AAAaaaaaaaaaaah, I've finally got through after 20 minutes and now I'm going to give you HELL" will need all your diplomacy to keep an official complaint coming in about you.
So, as a Call Handler you are expected to be polite, reasonable, helpful and always available. You should expect a lot of irritable customers and a lot of arguments to be quashed while trying to stay on the good side of your boss. It is a very thankless job and not one that should be entered into without a lot of thought as a career path. I did enjoy my time with the Digital TV Provider after a while, after the nerves settled down and I got to know my way around the system, it all boils down to being confident and relaxed on the phone.
If you're going to call in to a Customer Service centre, do it in a nice way please, keep the aggressiveness to a minimum and don't take it out on the call handler - they've got enough pressure as it is!
It's an easy job to get, not the easiest to keep. Think about it before you apply!
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