I guess I'd better be honest first - I didn't spend my week in an actual call center. I spent it at a receptionist desk in a corporate office. Which, I thought would be more administrative work and not as much answer the phones. It was definitely WAY more phone and way less administrative. It definitely turned out to be way different than I was expecting..and I'd like to share a few things that I learned - that will not only help me in future jobs, but help you realize what it's like to answer phones for a living.
1// Yelling at me cannot and will not help your situation get solved any quicker.
It's true. If you're yelling, I'm not sure what the issue is and I cannot transfer you to the person that will actually help you. Calm down and don't shoot the messenger, people.
2// If someone doesn't answer, leave a voicemail.
I'm sure to most, that would be common sense. Since the invention of recording technology, humans have had the blessing of letting someone know they called and giving them the information to call them back. Plain and simple.
It may not be your favorite thing, and you may not receive a phone call back, but it at least gives you a bit of credibility when you're needing to speak to their superior.
Which leads me to..
3// SPEAK CLEARLY.
If you mumble and I have to ask 17 times what your name is or what you're calling about, our conversation will come to a stalemate - causing frustration on both sides of the call - and it won't solve one thing.
4// Ask someone their name, and if possible, how to spell it.
I've learned that people love their names. They love knowing someone knows at least a part of who they are - and it always makes people a little less defensive. And bonus points if you ask how to spell it, especially if it's not a common name. People smile when you ask them how to spell their name, I promise.
5// Find out who people are and what they do.
Like the name thing, people like you knowing who they are. And some won't introduce themselves - maybe because they think you should know them already, or maybe they're just not as extroverted as you thought them to be - so speak up. Ask their name and what they do. Don't ask their title, because that's not always useful information - purely because it may be a vague title for someone who overseas so many things. What they do, what they do, what they do. Remember that.
6// If you don't know, ask.
Also, common sense. But, by you asking who people are and what they do, you're able to ask questions and find out how to better serve customers. The quicker you are getting them places, the easier the conversations are. Ask questions!
7// Sitting at a desk all day is awful.
I honestly don't know how people do it. I hate being stationary and find myself asking to go to the bathroom every hour or so purely so I can get up and move. Don't sit all day - your body will thank you.
8// Always have candy.
Candy is your friend when you work at a front desk. People have a chance to get away from their desks, and you're able to chat with someone other than the person on the other line who's yelling about their trash not getting picked up five minutes ago. It may not be "the Office" everywhere, but if you can, create friendships. It'll make the day go by quicker, and your work life more enjoyable.
9// Don't get over-emotional.
It's hard being yelled at. It just is plain hard. Giving in to the overwhelming urge to scream back, cry or bash your head against your desk will only hurt you. Saying "one moment please", putting someone on hold, grabbing a sip of water and taking a deep breath is all it really takes sometimes. And most of the time it can make all the difference in the world.
Sometimes someone will call and start spouting out a story. We as humans love a good audience. We love telling our woes. How do you think Shakespeare got so popular? The man knew how to spin a good problem. So, either you can hang up (never a good idea), quickly transfer them elsewhere (also not necessarily a good idea - they won't thank you for that!) or you can listen. Give them five minutes and hear them out - that's all anyone ever really wants. Someone to listen. Be that someone. (sometimes..ha!)
Thanks little child. I think so too.