What to Expect When Working in a Call Center

Working at an inbound call center is unlike most other places of employment, and as such it can take some getting used to. Due to the nature of the business itself, there are practices, policies, and measurements of success that are uncommon in many other industries. While the specifics of a position will depend on the client or company for whom calls are being processed, inbound call center jobs all have several things in common which remain fairly consistent.

Learning the Metrics System

While every employer has some methodology for measuring their employees' productivity, successes, and failures, call centers have boiled such things down to hard mathematics. Virtually every aspect of any call center employee's performance is monitored, measured, and compared against an ideal or an average. Key areas of importance to every call center are handle time, after-call work, and schedule adherence.

An agent's handle time is defined as the time spent actively engaged with a caller, though the target number for this tends to vary based on the nature of the calls being taken. After-call work, sometimes also referred to as wrap time, is the time spent documenting an interaction prior to being available for a new call. This time should be comparably minuscule to that spent taking calls. Finally, adherence consists of the minutes and seconds spent in direct compliance with an established schedule.

Scheduling Man Hours

The schedule is everything in a call center, as it can determine how many individual calls can be processed in any given 15-minute interval. Many things impact the final result, but the more closely reality can replicate an ideal scenario the more accurate those estimates become. The more people move out of adherence with their schedule or fall short of their handle and wrap-time goals, the less accurate an estimate becomes.

In order to overcome the impact of reality, call centers typically overstaff by to some degree, which allows them to account for accidents, absences, long calls, and other unforeseen circumstances. However, because every 15-minute interval matters, a single person missing their entire shift can have a startling impact on the overall performance of a call center. This is why, more than anything else, a poor attendance record will limit your employment with any call center.

Call centers offer a highly regimented, highly scrutinized environment, and they aren't a good job fit for everyone. However, for those that can thrive within the structure of a call center, there are many opportunities and benefits to be found.