By Richard Lawrence-Allen
Working in a contact centre isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. However, over the years, due to a small handful of less than reputable organisations, contact centre work has gained somewhat of an unearned bad reputation. This is sadly because not all contact centres are created equally. Over time, due to a few bad eggs, many people seem to have lost sight of some of the wonderful things that come, part and parcel, with working in telecommunications. Here at RSVP we like to show ourselves as a shining example of how good this type of work can truly be. Our staff work incredibly hard and sometimes it can be particularly tough, but there are many reasons to celebrate the work offered at RSVP, and at contact centres like us, and many reasons that so many people come to us looking for employment.
If you’re considering looking for work at a contact centre, but are unsure due to some negative preconceptions, let’s take a look at the all benefits that come from working in this kind of environment.
Telecommunications, funnily enough, is all about communication. The very core of any contact centre job is simply chatting with different people from different backgrounds. The best customer service and sales agents love to talk, love to engage and love to listen. People who like people thrive in a contact centre environment as it gives them the opportunity to get to know scores of people in a little way, in a relatively short amount of time. Each phone call gives staff the chance to get to interact with various types of people from all over the country (and sometimes the world); people that they wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to interact with otherwise. Many people may cite contact centre work as repetitive, and this can be true if you stop listening to your customers and switch off your brain, behaving automatically. However, a good contact centre agent will take each call as a completely new experience, as each customer will have differing needs (after all, no two people are the same), taking away any monotony to the job.
Contact centres, by their nature, are incredibly social environments. Not only are agents’ days filled with chatting to their customers on the phone, but also with their colleagues. Telecommunication centres so much on talking, as previously mentioned, and because of this it naturally appeals to those that are particularly gregarious. An office full of outgoing individuals, particularly when those individuals are professional actors as in RSVP’s case, creates for a very lively and vibrant office environment to say the least! All of the staff at RSVP work incredibly hard at what they do, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have plenty of fun doing it at the same time. On those days when customers are being particularly argumentative, or the days when sales seem harder to achieve than normal, there is always another person around you ready to cheer up the mood with some kind words or a joke to make you smile. The open plan layout of call centres like RSVP lends itself perfectly to this environment. Open plan spaces encourage people to chat with their colleagues and mingle as much as possible. We also run a hot desk system here at RSVP; this means that agents don’t have set desks where they work but can sit at a different desk every day, allowing them to interact and mingle with as many different groups of people as they please.
Typically speaking, other types of jobs which offer a similarly social environment, such as bar and promotional work, involve long hours spent on your feet and/or working outside in a mix of weather conditions. Contact centre work on the other hand takes place indoors, in a comfortable heated/air-conditioned office environment with plenty of chairs to sit on!
I’ve already mentioned that the nature of contact centre work is all about talking and as such is a very sociable position to take on. Of course, the chats that agents have with customers aren’t inane chinwags about the weather though, they serve a purpose. While pleasantries are of course regularly exchanged throughout calls, whether it is a sales or customer service based-call, each conversation has an end goal (either a complaint successfully handled or a sale successfully made). Due to these goals, the job of course does come with its own set of performance targets. This is typically where some flounder where others strive. Sales and customer service targets do put a certain amount of pressure on contact centre agents, to make sure that they are achieving their goals and satisfying the needs of both the customer and the client. Not all people respond to target-based work; others however thrive with these challenges and derive a great deal of satisfaction from achieving their targeted sales/customer care review figures. How targets affect staff depends both on the individual agent and how the individual contact centre addresses these requirements. At RSVP we believe that it is important to set reasonable and achievable targets for staff. Additionally, RSVP freely offers extra training to any staff member who finds that they are falling behind the rest of their team and/or falling short of their targets. Taking this approach reduces the target-based pressure and so the workplace stresses that agents may feel and increases a sense of workplace security. If handled correctly, targets within contact centre work can give employees great job satisfaction. Targets provide goal posts to reach, and measured achievements. In addition to this is also the satisfaction that comes with helping to solve a customer’s issue, or assisting them with the purchase of the right product for them based on your recommendations.
On top of this, facing speaking to complete strangers throughout the day and communicating openly with the view to reach a specified goal does wonders for each agent’s self-confidence as well. Those that start new in a contact centre often start slightly nervous on the phones, even if they are quite extroverted typically speaking; however, a short time in a contact centre will see their confidence grow quickly, particularly when surrounded by likeminded individuals and supportive management.
Moreover, RSVP being tailored towards performers, offers a few extra benefits for our staff including full flexibly around their performance work and opportunities, discounts for performance industry related services, free evening and weekend rehearsal spaces and even a commission-free agency to help their performing careers grow.
All in all, if you are thinking about applying for a job with RSVP, but aren’t quite sure, our advice is to apply, meet someone from the team and see how the office feels for you. If you are offered a job, you can give it a try and by the end of the probation period of two weeks, if you decide that contact centre work is not for you after all, that’s no problem. Alternatively, you may, like the majority of our current staff, find that it is the perfect job for you to keep coming back to time and time again between your creative pursuits. If you’d like to apply, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out through the contact form on our website.