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Why work at a Call Center? 02/04/2009

Posted by TBoehm30 in Call Center.
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1 comment so far

I spent many years working in a “Call Center”. It was a place where customers call in to voice their complaints and get help with their technical problems. If you like doing tech support, and fixing problems, this was a great place to work. If you were Tier 1 and didn’t enjoy small talk, this was not the place for you.

A typical call center has several levels, or ‘tiers’. Tier 1 will typically take your information, enter your case (problem, ticket, etc.) into the system, and evaluate your need for services. They could possibly look at your entitlement if you have a contract or warranty with the company. Some Tier 1 people are allowed to try to solve your problem. They would usually have a script that guides them through all of the well known problems. (“Did you try rebooting?”)

Tier 2 is supposed to be the knowledgeable people. When a Tier 1 agent gets stuck, or can’t help, they will transfer you to Tier 2. Some companies may have another level that may be called Tier 3; at my location they were the ‘factory’. Some companies have field service that can come to you, or stores where you go to them.

Think for a minute about the Tier 2 superstars. If you get good enough at solving problems, you may want to move up to Tier 3, or out to the field. The call center most likely has a career path for you to follow. The company wants to keep you and has plans on how to do that.

If you are a field agent, you may want to stop travelling and be a Tier 2 (or Tier 3) agent for a while. Most call centers will provide their employees the option of switching. Some places even require their agents to switch roles every so often.

How about the Tier 1? Where I worked, they just answered the phone, put your contact information into the system, documented your problems and transferred you to the correct Tier 2 group. Were they learning anything? Were they challenged in their jobs? Did they have a career path? This was actually a topic of discussions for many management meetings. The turnover of the Tier 1 people was terrible – they constantly had to train new employees on how to use the CRM system. There was quite a bit of knowledge needed to use the system properly and transfer users to the right group.

They eventually made changes to get the Tier 1 people involved in other projects. They helped test the CRM system; they worked on Disaster Recovery Plans (DRP). They got to be involved in other parts of the company if they had the skills. This slowed turnover, but eventually a new problem was noticed: Where do new Tier 2 people come from?

The Tier 2 folks were usually technically oriented people who went to a lot of classes to learn the technology needed to solve the problems of the customers. These people were not typically Tier 1 because they had too much knowledge and skills for those positions. This meant that the company was paying for quite a lot of classes and training.

My suggestion to companies who run a typical call center is to change the model. They need to allow the Tier 1 folks to get the training they need to move up to Tier 2. That solves both of the above problems. They have a career path for their Tier 1, and they find new Tier 2 people. Of course, that means planning with the Tier 1 people on how they do their job. That could be plenty of change management.

I hope you have enjoyed my call center philosophy. If you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear them.

Remember, it’s a global world out there and technology makes it happen.

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