How to Progress?

HOW CAN YOU DEVELOP AND PROGRESS?

Working in a BPO can offer you a large number of career opportunities. As there continues to be an increasing demand for BPO Agents, once trained, you may see better opportunities in other BPO centers.

A good customer service Agent, can use the skills they have learnt in other customer service type environments. You will develop many skills whilst being a BPO Agent, including PC/keyboard; telephone manners; customer relations etc all of which are usually very important in most jobs.

Within many BPO Organizations, they may use the BPO as a type of nursery where individuals learn about the organization before moving into other roles. Many organizations advertise vacancies internally before they go outside, as this is less costly in recruitment terms but it is also seen to be good for morale.

Therefore, if you have an interest in working in HR or Marketing which are two areas that are often difficult to get into, then you may want to consider how starting in a BPO centre may help your career path. Many students and school leavers take BPO roles in order to get their first job or help finance them during their studies.

It is not only outside the BPO Centre that there are career opportunities, but within the BPO centre as well. If you are good at explaining processes and helping your colleagues, there are usually opportunities to take on roles such as ‘buddies’where you help the new agents settle in. This is often seen as a good introduction towards becoming either a team coach or the Team Leader or a Trainer in a BPO setup.

Team Leadership within a BPO centre can then open up many other potential management type roles. One of the authors of this document started her career in working in a customer service centre! You may also be more technically minded and therefore a role within the Operational Management Support team may suit you. Typically people who are analytical and good with figures tend to enjoy these roles in BPO and for some people this has led them either to a role within finance or because they use the systems a lot either into the IT department or to act as a intermediary between IT and the BPO centre.

Finally,although we have spoken about general opportunities above, if your BPO centre is in a particular industry, then the knowledge of the industry itself may open up many different opportunities.

At your initial interview you may want to ask about career development opportunities within the call centre and whether the company does advertise other jobs internally or not! In some BPO centers Agents may not be able to apply for other roles for at least 1 year of starting so this may need to be born in mind. Also the centre may be located away from the main offices where some of the other roles are performed.

Some general points to be aware of!

If you have not worked in a BPO centre before, it may be a shock for you! It may feel strange having to sit at a desk and feel that you are bombarded with calls, surrounded by other people and to take breaks at particular time. It does take a few weeks for this feeling to wear off, it is not uncommon, but it is the way of a BPO centre and so you should give it some time.

Difficult customers  If a customer has been holding on in a queue or has been sent a letter by the company that they are not happy with, then they may be upset, rude or even aggressive. Most companies do have training that all agents go on, to help them deal with these situations. The best thing to do is to remain calm, not to take it personally and to always remain polite. Don’t ever react to them, as unfortunately this will give them, more to complain about and normally companies will expect you to remain polite. However, most companies also have a policy for dealing with difficult customers so you should follow this policy. Remember for every difficult customer there are many more nice customers.

You find the work monotonous!    After you become familiar with the calls, then it is quite likely that you will feel that this is the case. There may be opportunities to take more complex calls or to expand your role into other areas of call handling (this may include a different type of call or outbound instead of inbound!). However, many agents set themselves personal challenges to improve their figures or have little competitions with others in their team to help keep them interested. 

Career Opportunities An experienced Agent can also get involved in helping to buddy new Agents or to become a Coach for a Team. Both these roles are very important and can be a stepping stone towards becoming a Team Leader. Many individuals have been able to use the role of an agent as a stepping stone to other roles within an organization, but remember that if you have just joined a company, then this may not happen for at least a year if not longer.

Call Statistics    Call centers produce a mountain of management information from the technology that it uses. As explained before the resource planning and costs of a centre are based around simple statistics such as the average call duration and % of time spent answering calls. 

BPO Agents are usually given their stats on either a daily or weekly basis, which may make some Agents feel under pressure, but many Agents use it as a way of challenging themselves to achieve.The quantitative statistics should not be the only thing used to measure an BPO Agent, but also the quality and effectiveness of the service they provide!

Flexibility    More and more call centers need people to work only certain hours to meet the needs of callers. It is worth asking if these types of working hours are actually available. Some centers will also enable you to bank some hours in order to takeoff at another time.

Holidays    One of the difficulties in call centers is meeting the needs of all the agents as well. As they often provide work for parents with young children, there is usually a high demand for time off at school holidays, this can on the upside also provide additional working hours for others such as students.

Gossip    Within a BPO call centre where a large number of people work together secrets can rarely be kept or very few things go unnoticed, so be careful about what you do or say.

Busy periods of time     Agents should be aware that centers try to maximize the number of people taking calls during peak       time in order to help achieve the service levels. If performance is poor during this time, then customers do get more irate and the whole day becomes more difficult. Good agents will be mindful of the importance of focusing their efforts during these busy periods which may not appear to be acknowledged by the Manager but is usually not missed by them.

Sickness and absenteeism    Most BPO centers have clear and what might appear to be strict processes for monitoring and managing sickness and everyone is expected to conform to these practices. The practice has often been put in place because ofa small number of people taking time off for what are not always genuine reasons. This does put intense pressure on others in the BPO centre, so to ensure people were treated fairly and consistently, these policies were put in place.

Terms & conditions of employment    These are in place to protect you and to set out what is expected of you. It is a formal contract and the breaking of it, can have serious consequences for both the individual and the company. You should be aware of what this covers and understand the rights, policies and procedures of the company. Within a call centre, certain behaviors are so unacceptable that they can lead to disciplinary action or dismissal, one of the most common areas is abuse or overuse of internal email or the internet. If you do have an issue, then talking to the HR resource for advice or support is important as they have a welfare role to perform