Busting the top 5 myths about working in a Contact Centre

There are a multitude of stereotypes surrounding contact centre work. Thanks to programmes like BBC Three’s The Call Centre, these views are perpetuated and working in a contact centre is often unfairly perceived as one of the worst jobs in the UK.

Thankfully, not all contact centres are the same. This article outlines how Brighton’s Domestic & General is working to dispel some of the common myths about working ‘on the phones’.

 1. It’s a job with no prospects

Not true. Most contact centres will offer progression opportunities in some form but at Domestic & General there are a number of options available to those who are keen to develop a career.

Effective communication is essential in order to respond to each employee’s skills and ambitions. A one-to-one monthly personal development session with their manager gives each employee the chance to review their progress. This can include goals around skills such as completing e-learning and NVQ qualifications as well as sales targets.

There is also the Route-to-Success scheme that aims to make training and development more accessible, giving employees control over their personal development and the tools to succeed. Positions within the company are clearly defined along with the training required to complete specific roles, so everyone has a clear understanding of what skills are required to enable them to grow within the company.

Employees are automatically enrolled in the Route to Success scheme.  In 2013 alone, 81 agents were promoted through the scheme, with the further option to enroll in Learning to Lead for aspiring managers.

2. You hassle people to buy products they don’t need

Over the years call centres have attracted a bad name thanks to a few companies who became renowned for making nuisance calls, often repeatedly, selling a product the receiver doesn’t want or need.

Keen to set itself apart, Domestic & General developed a comprehensive ethics policy which is adopted by each of its four UK sites and 2450 UK employees.  Additionally the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRU) regulate the company, which further ensures every customer is treated ethically and fairly.

It’s also important to remember that not all contact centre roles involve sales. At Domestic & General, there are various departments aside from outbound sales, including resolutions, quality assurance, management, learning and development and human resources. Roles within these departments can involve tasks as diverse as helping a customer whose appliance has broken down, to organising the Christmas party or managing the company’s communications.

3. It’s bad for your health

Working in a contact centre is no different to any other office job, so if you don’t safeguard yourself, the same office job health implications could apply.  Typical ailments include poor posture, an increased risk of catching a cold (from co-workers) and eyestrain from looking at a computer screen.

Most businesses are aware of these issues and take steps to ensure their employees are equipped with the knowledge to minimise health risks, after all it’s been proven healthier employees are more productive.

Domestic & General is no different, but rather than simply minimize occupational health risks, the company seeks to improve the overall health of its employees. As well as risk and desk assessments, flu jabs, NHS health checks, eye test vouchers, sexual health screening, clinics to help stop smoking, nutritional advice, drink awareness, stress busting advice and fresh fruit are all provided free of charge to employees.

In fact, thanks to its extensive health and wellbeing initiatives, Domestic & General won the Sussex Business Healthiest Workplace Award in 2010, 2011 and, after taking a break in 2012, they won again in 2013.

4. When it comes to calls – it’s about quantity over quality

While there are guidelines on how long a call should take, the emphasis is firmly on quality. If a call takes longer but the agent has taken time to fully understand a customers needs, the result is far greater than if the agent had spoken to five customers, none of which were left feeling satisfied.

Customer service and satisfaction is so important to Domestic & General, it has a whole department dedicated to ensuring the highest standards are always maintained and upheld.  We offer a simple promise to our customers: “We take care of you, your products and your problem.” Our success is dependent on us delivering on this promise through the way we interact with our customers. We do this so well, we recently achieved 93% customer service satisfaction in our latest survey amongst customers.

5. The work is monotonous and demoralising

Not true. For those that work on the phones, every call is different. Two-way conversations are impossible to predict and you never know what kind of person you will be speaking to next. Additionally, there are hundreds of different roles within the company, some of which don’t involve speaking to customers at all.

Contact Centre Executive Robin Cornwell said: “I started with Domestic and General in April 2012, since then I’ve been promoted twice and have taken advantage of additional opportunities. My day-to-day responsibilities include supporting teams within my department and helping the Learning and Development department with training. I am also the company’s official Recruitment Champion. All of these roles mean every day I turn up for work and I can be assured of something new and challenging to sink my teeth into, which is what I seek in my work life. There’s never a dull a moment.”

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