You've gone through a lot— that weird feeling in your stomach when the interviewer called your name, the pounding in your chest, the unexpected questions. Congratulations, you made it! Now, off to the next level- the call center training. And before you get all relaxed and cozy, make no mistake of thinking that you're safe. This is just the beginning and you are yet to learn a lot.
Note: If you're still a call center applicant looking for tips on how to pass your interview, this can help you: Call Center Job Hunting Tips for Beginners.
Why You Should Take your Call Center Training Seriously
Sure, you survived the final exams interviews, but that doesn't stop the company from terminating you. We're gonna solve that today. But first, let me tell you about these two beautiful ladies who recently passed their call center interviews!
Since March 2017, 8 already passed. When I started this blog, I wasn't even sure that somebody would read and visit. So thanks so much for dropping by and giving me your time. You're the reason why this blog is here.
Okay, let's dive in.
The 3 Stages of Call Center Training
1. Language and Call Center Basics
Your trainer will give a quick overview on English pronunciation, accent, tone, intonation, grammar and vocabulary.
Call Center Basics (Call Flow)
There'll be lots of mock calls. This will develop your call handling skills. And by call handling, I mean how you talk to customers, ask effective questions, and handle an irate customer's concern—the soonest possible time with all the relevant information intact.
Some call centers skip this stage or they only spend a short time (a day or a week) training. If you're new, chances are, you'll receive a reasonable or lengthy amount of training. If not, don't worry so much. The fact that they hired you means they believe you have a high chance of passing it.
At this stage, you won't know which account you'll be working for. "Account" means the company who hired your call center to do the job. There are basically four parties in the equation— the call center, the account or the call center's client, the customers (whom you'll be talking to everyday), and you.
This is the easiest and the most fun stage. You'll talk and laugh a lot with your co-trainees. I suggest you make the most of it. It surely won't last. And the next stage? It's the real deal. And it's kinda brutal.
2. Product-Specific Training (a.k.a. Information Overload)
In this stage, you'll know exactly which account you'll be working for. You'll need to memorize a lot of boring but necessary info, take a series of tests and undergo mock calls. In the end, you'll undergo a series of written tests and mock calls. Another way I describe this is "information overload". You'll only retain 50% of the lesson. You'll forget the other half.
Just so you know, this is normal. It's your brain's way of keeping your sanity when it's overloaded with too much information. Add it up to an abrupt change of sleeping schedule and you'll inevitably deal with some stress here. So absorb what you can but don't feel bad about the ones you didn't.
I'm sure you're not alone. Even the experienced agents struggle with product training. I hated it and I always will. But it's necessary. So here's a basic advice that always works: bring backups. I'm talking about bringing a pen and paper on your very first day and take notes! (duh)
3. Shadowing & Nesting
You'll listen to a lot and talking a lot. Listening, because you'll hear a tenured agent answers questions, resolve issues, calm down irate customers and apply the product knowledge you're taught during the product training.
That said, you'll also hear the behind the scenes of the holds and mute of each call. You'll see the honest and unscripted night-to-night life of a call center agent. If you hear an agent curse during each hold, don't be shocked. Better get used to it. You'll probably gonna be doing the same thing soon.
You'll be doing the full tasks of a call center agent but you'll likely won't work throughout the whole eight hours. This is your transition period between a trainee and a call center agent life.
It's important to note that you're still subject to termination if you don't pass. Your trainer will closely monitor your calls. I wouldn't worry much if I were you. If you make it to this stage, there's only a very slim chance of not passing it—as long as you do your part.
Here's an article I wrote with tips on how to pass a call center nesting: How to Pass Your Call Center Nesting Test and Land Your Official Job Offer
On to the Tips
Tip #1: Memorize and Know the Call Flow
Imagine yourself in Survivor Philippines, dropped in a jungle, and tasked to make your way home. Which one would you bring if you only have to choose one—an mp3 player or a map? For sure, you'd sacrifice your entertainment just to find your way home. The mp3 with Justin Bieber on it will have to wait.
When undergoing a call center training, the call flow is your map. If you don't memorize the basic call flow at the end of the product training, you'll fail. That's how important it is. You need call flow to pass. I can't stress that enough.
Call flow is you map when talking to customers and when taking mock calls. You'll know exactly how to open the call, ask questions, empathize, when to offer the resolution and close the call. As someone whose job is to take care of the customers, you should not get lost. You must lead the conversation, instead of the other way around.
Tip #2: Ask
Then comes that familiar, deafening silence.
So common, right? You'd rather get hit by a car than ask questions after a lecture. But remember this: Everytime you delay asking one single question because it feels uncomfortable, you're already missing out a lot of information.
Think about it— your question will lead to an answer. That answer will lead to another question and answer. Then another question, then its answer, and so on. Imagine a lot of unanswered questions by not asking that one question.
Besides, you don't have to ask the rest of the questions. I notice that everytime one trainee asks the first question, the whole class eventually follows and the productive question and answer begins. It spreads like a wildfire. But like any other wildfire, someone must first light up a match. Be that someone. If you're confused, chances are, the rest of the trainees feel the same.
This is not a school classroom anymore where the teacher spoon-feeds and you as the student, sits and stares with mouth wide open. You're an adult now who needs to make a living. So do the feeding yourself.
You might also benefit from these topics:
- How to Deescalate a Supervisor Call: Call Center Handling Tips
- First Day in the Call Center Floor: What to Expect and How to Survive
- How to Handle Irate Customers for Call Center Applicants (Mock Call)
Tip #3: Take Care of Yourself
You're here for money. But surely, you don't want to spend your money in the hospital. So take care of yourself.
Working on a night shift is almost impossible. Most humans are just not made for it, especially me. When the sun shines in the sky, all my body understands is that it needs to keep my eyes open, that I should be awake and moving. Not sleeping. If that sounds like you, you need a dark room to sleep. As dark as it can get, the better. In the dark, your body produces the sleep hormones better.
Your sleep schedule will change, so will your mealtimes. If your shift is 10:00PM to 7:00 AM, you might find yourself waking up during noon hungry. If this is the case, eat after your shift at 7:00, wait for an hour or two, then sleep. This way, you won't have to wake up at 12:00 and disrupt your sleep. It's hard to sleep when your belly is full.
On Social Life
You don't need to ignore your friends forever but you should only see them every weekends. You're making a living now, you need to rest to keep yourself alive and healthy while earning money.
I don't suggest you completely cut your social contacts. Call center could be a lonely place sometimes. During the night when you're awake, everyone is asleep. During the day, when they wanna talk to you, you're asleep. Strike a balance between the two. You need a social life too, you know.
Tip #4.) Prepare These Things
Pen and Paper
Common sense but still worth mentioning. Honestly, I still see lots of trainees not bringing pen and paper in situations when they need it most. Information overload is real so spare yourself the anxiety and stress. Your brain can't absorb everything. At least you got your notes to save you. You'll also be filling out a lot of documents so please...
A Spillproof Mug/ Tumbler
Like it or not, you'll need coffee if you don't wanna sleep in front of your trainer. Most call centers offer free coffee. Just bring a mug or tumbler. Make sure its spill-proof. You don't wanna spend your first salary paying for the company's soaked, damaged keyboard, do you?
5.) Know Your Goals
During the call center training, you'll get it wrong one way or another. When you take calls, you'll solve problems for the customers. These problems might take their toll on you.
But don't focus on those. Focus on your goals. Why did you apply here? Are you saving to quit your job and build your own business one day? Send your siblings to college? Raise your child/ren? Climb to a higher position? Focus on those.
Hey, if you need a call flow in each of your call, you need actual life goals as well. It's your map.
In the end, it all boils down to this. How bad do you want this job? Will it be enough to drive you to make sound and responsible decisions? To take care of yourself while you hustle? To take notes and follow the company's rules? If the answer is yes, then you won't have much of a problem.
Hope this helps you get through your contract signing. More salaries to come!