Growing up, I have never thought I wanted to work in a call centre. My mum thought since I love talking on the phone so much, she introduced my first job to me. A telephone operator in YMCA hotel, a position recently vacated in her workplace. Urgh, it must be hard and so uncool working next to my mum, was probably my first teen thought that crossed my 14 years old mind. However, it beats working in a fast food restaurant for SGD$4 an hour. My eyes widen as I heard my classmates relate their horror stories of having to clean up the restaurant’s toilets.

My pay was pretty good at that time, with SGD$5 and I didn’t have to work all day, just Fridays after school, the whole of Saturday or Sunday, leaving me one weekend to catch up my school work or my friends. So while my classmates slave over the frying ovens and wiping tables after tables, I get to sit comfortably, acting all adult like matter in front of the computer, flipping through magazines left by my mum when she left for home at 6pm on Fridays. My fondest memories were of the director of my department, called the hotel operator (that’s me) asking for assistance to order fast food for his dinner on a Friday late evening. He came down to the front desk, paid for his food but did not leave, instead came to the back office and shared his meal with me. I was alone in the back office at that time. It must be comical to see a 14 years old kid in an oversized uniform eating fried chicken with a 40 plus years old man in suit and tie, both licking our fingers and laughing at jokes.

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That memory serves me for the longest time so when I wanted a change of industry from Private Education, I thought of one thing that made me the happiest was the days working in YMCA. So I went and applied for a customer service role in a call centre. Within a year, I was promoted to become customer service manager. From then onwards, I have never strayed far away from call centres, whether it was doing customer service or operation or sales. Let me tell you why I thrive in call centres when a lot of others have packed up and left.

Love the Noise
Some people just can’t work with noise in the background, actually neither can I but when it comes to calling centres, somehow I don’t just tolerate the noise, I rejuvenate with the chatters around me. My ears get picked up the gossips around the desks, the conversation between my staff and customers; and the sighs of relief and satisfaction when a complaint is resolved.

Love the Energy
Working with youngsters have a huge advantage, you have got to give it to them when comes to energy. You can see them hopping around with burst of energy even after a long gruelling 12 hours shift, 5 days straight in a row and never a whisper of complaints. I especially love it when there is high influx of calls coming in, you can hear and feel the vibrancy of their energy, not very different on the stock market trading floor.

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Love the Bonding
No matter you are working in a store, a restaurant or a call centre, one thing you can’t deny is the camaraderie among the team. The supper after late night shift or karaoke after a gruelling day even drinks on a weekday late night to celebrate successful results. Relationships and lasting friendships are created over frustrating tears brought on by tough cases, uncouth customers and delightful but rare compliments.

Love the KPIs
In a lot of careers, you don’t get to see the results of your work immediately. In a call centre, your results can be determined within an hour. Whether it is a number of calls taken per hour or number of sales clinched per hour, you actually can be rewarded based on your productivity. If your boss says your numbers are good, it shows in the system. No grey area there and second guessing whether he means good is align with your version of great or poor.

Love the Satisfaction
Something about helping another person that gives one great satisfaction. Each compliment is treated with pride and joy. Even a ‘thank you, you have been a great help’ will make our day brighter. I have had a cake, a box of cupcakes, shopping vouchers, bubble teas, stationaries, a fruit basket, stalks of flowers (on Valentine’s Day!) delivered to my office by appreciative customers for the team. Knowing that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life, be it a tiny request, is enough for many great service providers.

This beats working with stuffy suits and hush quiet environment where you can hear a pen roll off a desk and drop to the floor any day. Does this give you enough insight on working in a call centre? Share with us your thoughts below!

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12 replies on “Thriving in a Call Centre

  1. What a lovely article about the perks of working in a call centre, Kally. As a shy and introverted person, I have never imagined working in a call centre but my last few jobs have been sort of along those lines – handling inbound calls (non-sales) and providing information to customers and clients as part of a rotating team.

    You are right about the energy in a call centre team, and you can feel that everyone is in it together. At my work, sometimes when someone gets an annoying or funny call, they say it out loud to the whole team and we all have a good laugh over it. At my work, when there is someone at work who can’t do a late phone shift, someone is always eager to put up their hand to step in and trade shifts. Not only are good relationships built, working in a call centre can be a humbling experience and you learn that each of us are human after all.

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  2. I’m teaching in El Salvador for 8 weeks. Over the weekend I met some young people who spoke English very well. They all work at a call center. They don’t love the work but Call center work is the best pay young people can get here. The options otherwise are shops and restaurants. Cheers!

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  3. Eight years ago I started working as a technical support consultant in a call center catering to American customers. Today I’m an Operations Manager in one and relate to everything you said. I simply love every part of that. Be it the KPIs or SL. I love the high stress and urgency the job entails.

    Mark Twain has said that if you love your job, you won’t work for a day. I believe this.

    Loved this post!

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  4. Nice post again 🙂
    I need some noise in the background while working/writing, preferably music 😉 Except during gardening, then I somehow don’t need it…

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