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What is call centre work really like?

(26 Posts)
InTheTeapot Fri 05-Feb-16 09:45:26

I'm part way into the recruitment process and am swithering wildly about whether I actually want this type of job. It's a huge company selling health insurance. Pays much better than what I'm on but the bloke who did the telephone interview was pretty upfront about how stressful it could be and mentioned the high turnover of staff. It would be dealing with people asking questions about their policies.

Fourormore Fri 05-Feb-16 09:48:08

Petty policies, very restrictive, high pressure, little margin for error, often boring but sometimes paid better than other low skill jobs.

InTheTeapot Fri 05-Feb-16 10:24:38

Worth doing just to get the training and experience? He did say there was a lot of scope to move within the company and the financial progression is very good.

Fourormore Fri 05-Feb-16 10:29:37

Oh definitely. I don't think call centre work gives good job satisfaction for many people but like I say, it's money in the bank, you can leave your work at work when you leave at the end of the day. Just don't get too hung up on not being able to reach impossible targets smile

dodobookends Fri 05-Feb-16 10:29:52

From what I've heard via business contacts, three-quarters of new call centre trainees have had enough after about 6 weeks and pack it in.

whatdoIget Fri 05-Feb-16 10:33:48

I worked at a call centre for 4 years and it was ok at the beginning, but then the culture changed and became much more sales oriented. I'm shit at sales, so narrowly escaped being sacked by going on mat leave very early. I found it all very very stressful. If you're good at sales you could make a lot of extra money though. Good luck smile

Palomb Fri 05-Feb-16 10:34:55

Depends on the contact centre surely?

InTheTeapot Fri 05-Feb-16 11:07:53

Palomb that was one of the 4 possible answers to one question in the online assessment grin

Oogle Fri 05-Feb-16 11:16:04

I did it for 8 months for a popular chain of DIY stores. No selling, just taking calls. I was on the "front line" and from there we could transfer to various teams but we were encouraged to help the customer as much as poss without transfer.

It was horrible. Some customers were fine but most were calling because they had a problem so they were pretty wound up and abusive. My colleagues were mostly horrible and lazy and would bounce calls without giving it a second thought that the rest of us were having to pick them up because they couldn't be bothered.

However, it was reasonable money and I found it easy to switch off from when I walked out the door. I hated not being able to easily solve peoples issues though.

FuzzyOwl Fri 05-Feb-16 11:19:49

I was a union rep for call centre workers and there is no way I would ever work in one now. I could list all the negatives and still be going tomorrow, whereas the only positive is that you get paid (although sometimes that is debatable depending whether you need to hit certain targets and whether they are actually achievable or not).

InTheTeapot Fri 05-Feb-16 11:22:09

Oogle would you say that it gave you any transferable skills, good for cv?

misspym Fri 05-Feb-16 11:25:38

I worked in a call centre for several years. I started in outbound sales. I hated it and was awful at it (no belief in the benefits of what I was selling). I then moved to credit control which was difficult and ended up in inbound customer care which I really enjoyed.

I was young when I worked there and I think it really was great experience. It made me very resilient, flexible and able to think fast and problem solve.

If it is dealing with insurance policies it can actually be quite interesting work. I've done that in the past too. Inbound is less pressure that sales and people are usually quite easy to deal with as they need help from you.

If the money is better than what you are doing now I'd say it is worth giving it a go.

misspym Fri 05-Feb-16 11:28:07

We did have some bonuses that were performance related but in both call centres I worked in we had an hourly rate which was actually quite good so there was no question of not being paid.

InTheTeapot Fri 05-Feb-16 11:29:14

misspym that sounds more hopeful and possibly a closer match to what I would be doing.

QforCucumber Fri 05-Feb-16 11:31:16

Up until 2 years ago I worked in one for insurance, customer service only no sales - really quite enjoyed it for what it was, no stress, no taking work home. Only worked the hours you were rota'd in for.

They also offered curses in team management, customer service etc alongside the local college. The pension and benefits were really good too, I left because I was offered a mon-fri 9-5 finance role which is what I was working towards with the company anyway.

CV can be updated with customer facing service skills, dealing with complaints, meeting targets.

QforCucumber Fri 05-Feb-16 11:33:20

*courses, not curses!

misspym Fri 05-Feb-16 11:35:41

I went into the financial sector when I left the call centre too Q.

I think a lot of people have an image of call centres as hard selling, work on commission type places but anything inbound customer service/support can be quite decent work.

As Q said there's very little stress and there are often courses offered and career progression (Team Leader, Supervisor etc) and also the possibility of moving into admin or training positions.

wannaBe Fri 05-Feb-16 11:35:48

I worked in a Call centre for a large financial services company and then for an insurance company. When I talked about moving jobs I said that "it wouldn't be back into customer service." And it wasn't. grin.

Negatives: you get to talk to, and have to be nice to some absolutely vile members of the public. People seem to lose all sense of manners when they get to talk to someone behind a telephone, and some of the abuse is truely awful, and all that over a bloody insurance policy.

You often have to work to targets, especially if working in a sales environment.


It's a job and it pays. Not everyone is vile, I did speak to some lovely people. And on the whole the really horrible ones aren't generally the ones with genuine complaints, In my experience the ones with genuine complaints were usually the ones who would patiently allow you to deal with their query, while the rest just thought they could get a free ride or a bit of a discount if they shouted loudly enough. (But I was ruthless. <evil cackle>).

In terms of CV skills, you will gain communication skills, negotiation skills and ability to deal with difficult situations. these are invaluable.

Incidentally, I am now looking for work and am back on the trail of call centres. grin.

Oogle Fri 05-Feb-16 11:37:11

I guess I came away knowing how to give good customer service and how to effectively deal with a complaint.

Oh, there were a lot of opportunities for overtime - I was 18 when I worked there and I took as much overtime as I could get. I had a very healthy bank balance grin

HolditFinger Fri 05-Feb-16 11:44:05

I have to be honest, I hated it. Every single second. Luckily I was pregnant and knew I wouldn't have to be there long term (I knew I wasn't going to go back to work afterwards) but it really made me miserable.

Palomb Fri 05-Feb-16 18:29:51

Ime contact centres for large corporation are always going to be bloody awful to work in but I work for a small regional company as part of a small and well recruited team with very small staff turn over. They money is good and the hours are flexible.

It really does depend on the company, their ethics and the people they employ.

scarlets Fri 12-Feb-16 21:12:52

I imagine that outbound sales is very difficult. I remember watching that reality tv programme The Call Centre, and being surprised at how much money the top sellers made, but also unenvious about how monotonous and tough it seemed.

However, a couple of friends of mine work for HMRC's inbound call centre dealing with capital gains tax queries amongst other things, and quite enjoy it. The son of a friend joined the DWP call centre allegedly as a stop gap and ended up working his way up and making lots of friends. He's happy.

KenDoddsDadsDog Fri 12-Feb-16 21:21:58

I manage a contact centre for a FTSE 100. I wouldn't judge 'the call centre' as normal but it was good entertainment.
Depends on your mindset , I have grown my career over 18 years after working in an online outbound role for the same business. A lot of my peers are in senior management roles and we all started off in online roles.
We pay very well but it can be very difficult working to a schedule and also depending upon the general public.
There's a lot of snobbery around contact centre work but it can work very well for things like flexible working , childcare and in a lot of cases progression.

weshallneversurrender Fri 12-Feb-16 21:22:49

i work in a customer contact centre at the moment, and i have just left a previous call centre job

first one was dealing with insurance claims for a well know mobile telecoms company, current one is customer service for a retail group of 3 very well known brands

to be honest, i really enjoy it. the job can be horrendous at times, stressful, etc. but the people around you really make it worth doing. the money isnt bad, it can be a pretty sociable job between calls, and there is a lot of jokes and good feeling going around. if its a nice place to work, its not a bad atmosphere at all and i dont get up every morning dreading going to work at all.

InTheTeapot Sun 14-Feb-16 00:42:56

I didn't get any further with my application and am annoyed as I had come to the conclusion that as it would be an inbound customer service role I would have probably enjoyed it, plus the better wage.

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