A Customer Services Representative working at home with a laptop and headset

What working in Customer Services has taught me

Do you think you have what it takes to work as a Customer Service Representative? Customer service careers are a hot topic right now and it is not hard to see why, with work/life flexible shifts, clear progression tracks, excellent training and competitive pay plus the fact that Customer Service Advisor jobs are currently being offered as remote working opportunities due to the recent COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. 

Before you decide to embark on a career as a Customer Service Representative or any career for that matter, it is always a good idea to hear from the people already in the role and get a real life, behind the scenes perspective. With this in mind we interviewed Customer Service Team Leader, Max. 

Where do you currently work? 

I am a Team Leader working in a customer service department at Capita. 

When did you start working there?

I started on the 18th May 2020. My team and I all started at the same time; we were all recruited together to create a new Customer Service Representative team for a specific department.

Did you come from a Customer Service working background?

No, I was unemployed, I am a student studying Politics and I just applied for the Customer Service Representative - Team Leader position to earn some extra money while I am studying. 

Tell me about a typical day at work

I work 5 days out of 7 and I get Sundays and Tuesdays off. I am a Team Leader for 22 Customer Service Representatives. 

My day usually begins with logging into the various systems such as call handling software, reporting documents and other things like that. I check to make sure all of the other representatives have logged in on time and I check to see if there are any problems or escalated calls that I need to work on. I will also be involved in a management meeting at some point in the day but in general I am on call in support of all of the other representatives, assisting, taking customer calls where needed and resolving issues as they arise.

When call volumes are low I also make sure we are all working on some training topics in the day too, this could be mock calls, problem-solving exercises and system or software training. 

Are you based in a call centre or are you remote working? 

Our entire team is home based remote working right now due to lockdown.

Do you feel that remote working is a good long-term solution for call centres and Customer Service Representatives?

If the infrastructure and management support is in place, then yes absolutely. The most problems we encounter are to do with the software and systems and not the remote team itself. This is mostly due to the fact that the system was not designed to work with numerous remote working stations, everyone has different Wi-Fi systems and set ups that the software has to contend with. If we could resolve the system problems, then there is no reason why remote working wouldn't be a viable solution. 

What skills did you find you needed to draw on for this position? 

As we were an entirely new team starting on a new project, we had to asses everyone’s skills pretty early on. Strong customer service and telephone skills were the first real skills we needed to have. We did lots of practice calls and mock scenarios to ensure we were all confident and able to communicate effectively. Strong IT skills were also needed straight away, everything is done through software and systems, so we needed to be able to use them quickly and effectively. Anyone who was particularly strong in this area helped out those who were pretty new to computers so as a team we made sure we built up all of the skills we needed. 

What are the best bits about being a Customer Service Representative - Team Leader?

The people I work with really make the job great. We are all Customer Service Representatives first and foremost, then I have the added responsibility of being a Team Leader but managing the team and getting the best from everyone is where I feel the most comfortable. I like that with clear open communication and friendly supportive team members we have created a great team working atmosphere. 

What are the worst bits?

The systems can be challenging at times, especially while we are remote working. Making sure that all of us can report on our performance and maintain our targets can be difficult at times, but I am struggling for an answer to be honest, there is nothing really that would be described as the worst bits about this job. 

Where do you see customer service careers taking you in future? 

I like that I am able to contribute to something bigger, I am an important part of a bigger system with lots of future potential. 

What are your immediate ambitions?

My initial contract was for just 12 weeks, but I am confident that there is room for me to stay and build on my long-term career options within Capita, so hopefully I will have the chance to renew my contract and develop my skills further.  

What has working in customer service taught you? 

I didn't come from a strong customer services background and so I learned everything on the job, picking things up quickly and putting skills into practice from the outset. Working in customer service has taught me to have faith in my own abilities and to relax into the role knowing that I can do my job really well.

What skills do you feel you have learned in this position that you wouldn't have done in another role?

I wasn't very strong in IT skills before I started this job, so I know I have really developed those. I have also learned to communicate effectively with a team and with customers. 

What advice would you give to a new Customer Service Representative?

Take the opportunity to undergo as much on the job training as possible and really embrace the mock call scenarios, they are a great way to build your confidence and problem-solving skills. 

Would you recommend your job to a friend?

I really would. It depends on the person of course, they would need to be a good fit for the position but overall it has been a really positive experience and one that I would recommend to anyone who is sociable, helpful, confident and proactive. 

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