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How to Become a Call Center Representative

Do you enjoy building relationships with customers and helping them with answers to their questions, inquiries and needs? If so, a position as a call center representative may be right for you.

Call center representatives are often one of the first and most important points of personal contact a customer has with a company. They’re an essential part of maintaining a great relationship with customers and making sure all their questions, complaints, and needs are answered. Call center representatives can also make outbound calls to follow up with customers, or market goods or services to them. In addition to phone calls, call center representatives may communicate with customers via email or webchat.

Besides having good on-your-feet thinking, call center representatives should know how to manage many important tasks in an often-busy work environment, as well as have excellent interpersonal skills, computer expertise, and the ability to manage time.

Sample job description

Without excellent call center representatives, our customers would not be able to receive the information they are seeking or reach the proper department. We rely on effective communicators to initiate, carry out, and end phone conversations with outstanding customer service. [Your Company Name] is looking for someone who enjoys working in a fast-paced environment where they are responsible for their own work. We are looking for someone who can create a positive relationship with the customer during the phone call and keep up-to-date on industry information and product information. You will need the ability to transfer calls to the appropriate department and monitor the appointment status of customers. We are looking for someone who is always punctual, has a good work ethic, a cool head, and is persistent in order to achieve success. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Confer with customers by telephone or in person to provide information about products or services, take or enter orders, cancel accounts, or obtain details of complaints
  • Keep records of customer interactions or transactions, recording details of inquiries, complaints, or comments, as well as actions taken
  • Use company policies to determine if there can be an immediate resolution to a customer issue or if that issue requires managerial input
  • Contact customers to respond to inquiries or to notify them of claim investigation results or any planned adjustments
  • Resolve customers’ service or billing complaints by performing activities such as exchanging merchandise, refunding money, or adjusting bills

Education and experience

This position requires a high school diploma or GED.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Strong problem-solving and critical thinking abilities
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Ability to manage time with little supervision

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience in customer service
  • Certifications required
  • Phone skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Bilingual

Typical work environment

Typically, a call center representative works in a fast-paced office setting with a desk and a computer. Desks may be separated by cubicles. Call centers are open 24 hours a day so you may be asked to work late nights or weekends as well as deal with frustrated customers. Depending on the company, you may have the option to work remotely. 

Typical hours

The work hours for a call center representative are typically from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday in an office setting. However, longer or different hours can be necessary, depending on the needs and hours of an individual call center.

Available certifications

Certifications build upon your existing skills and help you become more skilled and qualified to be an excellent call center representative.   

  • Management and Strategy Institute (MSI) Training. This course teaches important skills for those conducting business phone calls. It costs $99 and is self-paced but usually takes about two hours to complete. The course covers topics such as controlling your tone, obtaining information, being emotionally skilled, establishing rapport, rate of speech, responding to angry customers, answering phones, closing conversations, and putting people on hold. Some companies give this course to all of their employees. When you purchase this course, you have access to it for one year.
  • Call Center Training. This training is available through Customer Service Profiles and empowers call center representatives to learn the components of successful interactions. It builds on your existing skills to help you improve your etiquette, customer service, and engagement during your phone calls. Some topics covered include Best Practices for After-Call-Work (ACW) and Best Practices for Average Handle Time (AHT), and the impact of positive customer interactions.

Career path

The career path for a call center representative entails first earning a high school diploma or GED. This path often starts as an entry-level position, but can have opportunities for ongoing advancement, based on experience, performance. Opportunities for advancement can also be sought through earning certifications and completing related courses.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 43-4051

2020 Employment2,923,400
Projected Employment in 20302,888,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 1% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift34,500 decrease

There is a real and growing need for staffed call centers, and talented people to staff them.

Call center representatives and call center technology need to work in harmony to give customers the best service and experience, while at the same time maximizing efficiency for the company. Another trend is the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Where automated processes were once clunky, AI helps to streamline the flow of inbound calls, getting them to the right call center staff member quicker and easier.

Most important is personal interaction with customers, giving them the best possible experience while listening to them and helping to resolve their issues efficiently.