Call centre, also known as Customer Interaction Centre is a place which is mainly engaged in receiving and transmitting a large number of information, supports and inquiries from customers via telephone. Call centre is developing by dramatic and rapid speed, is gradually becoming an important and indispensable component stage in modern enterprises or companies. It has been widely used in municipal, public security, traffic control, postal services, telecommunications, banking, insurance, securities, electricity, IT and TV shopping industry, as well as all products and merchandises which need to use telephone marketing, service and support and also dramatically upgraded the quality of service trades and operational efficiency. (Workman & Bommer, 2004:318)
This article is going to describe how the management operates in call centre, analysis of the problems that agents are facing and propose some solutions for employers and employees to overcome in terms of managerial dilemma , or improve employees’ job satisfaction as well.
Problems in Call Centre
Highly structured and monitored work environment is the main reason leading to strong pressure for workers in contemporary call centre. More specifically, strict schedule of work, task target, rest, lunch time, or even the using toilet are planned and limited. “Time off the phone is monitored.” John Rolland explained, the Executive Director in Telstra Customer Sales &Service. The employee will be facing some troubles when they went to bathroom more than twice. “It indicates that 30 per cent of total remuneration is at risk if targets are not met, and that as a result of participating in the incentive plan, base salary and superannuation will be reduced.” (Q. McDermott 2007, pers. comm. 18 June).
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The remaining time is in the non-stop working and repeating the same work that answer the phone during the whole day period, it can be imagined to the actual situation. As a staff who worked in a call centre said, “This is a difficult place to work. You have to be able to solve problems quickly and be nice to customers even when they are rude.”(Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:36) The work day is just like a machine doing the same tasks everyday. Furthermore, they have to adapt the diversity condition for answering customers’ questions, which would be recorded for the checking their performances. John Rolland described that “As happens in many call centres, managers check how much time consultants spend on the phone with any one customer; measure the time they spend off the phone; and monitor the language used by consultants when they try to make a sale.”(Tough Calls: 2007)
Modern organizations are facing the greatest challenge is how to maintain a good employer-employee relationships, employee psychological contract affect the labor relations is the most important factor, whether agencies or private enterprises, to improve the dispatch of personnel to meet the degree of psychological contract, trust the staff and willing to join organizations, to enhance job performance and corporate competitiveness. In addition, The management styles in workplace, include coaching and encouragement to the staff while lacking motivation would influence employee’s impression of working satisfaction. With the administration and supervision authorities of call center to a great extent, especially their directness in charge of the attitude towards employees, if administration and supervision authorities hold prejudice, not good at communicating with the staff, the chance of personnel’s loss is certain to strengthen.
Many centres are suffering the high level labor force change, the employer attribute this phenomenon to a great extent the intrinsic pressure works and reduces the planar structure of promotion opportunity. The year turnover rate surpasses 30% is far away formal rate. (Taylor & Bain, 1999:110) manpower in Call center is the most crucial factor,so the loss of personnel is the issue of prevalence in call centre. Part of the service industry or call center services, is staff-intensive, capital-intensive industries. The manufacturing sector is also staff-intensive industries, but is different from the factory assembly line workers, call center personnel, the former face of the object of a product or machine, that is, “objects”, and call center employees are the face of “human.” Fiona M.Wilson claimed that if employees are considered as “their biggest asset or their only source of competitive advantage” by chief executives it suggests that they value their human resource. (Wilson 2004:145)
There are many reasons for the loss of personnel, and can be divided into two main types: the external environment, for example, highly monitored, strict structure, tough target reaching, emotional control and isolated communication, and internal causes such as personal character . However, in my view, external environment occupied the most proportion of this issue which may be solved or improved through following strategy implementations.
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First of all, companies must understand their own organizations, in order to select suitable candidates to fill the particular call centre job. In my view, in the drafting of the selection conditions, not just focus on the understanding of the work to establish a mechanism for personnel hiring, it should take into account the job should be emphasized more on individual ability such as adaptability, anti-pressure ability and communication skills not how excellence of the candidates. In other words, suitable is more importance than professional knowledge in this kind of workplace. If emphasis too much on the attitude of amiable, the result could be devastating. Harm is that you on the phone on the attitude of the staff extremely polite and humble, but they gave information is not always satisfactory. Whether staffs can withstand the big working pressure, also tallies in the professional interest aspect with the telephone traffic profession and so on, these need to be considered carefully in the recruiters’ process.
Second, setting up the Company Promotion System and incentive plan are reasonable means for personnel management. Providing more promotion opportunities will have a direct impact on employee loyalty, stimulates their work enthusiasm, and realizes progresses continually.
Finally, alleviating working pressure on employees through many kinds of channels are necessary. First of all, The consummate the control system, give the staff promptly corresponding training, the instruction of call centre career and the feedback; support personnel skill training, helps and promotes the personnel to the role cognition, to master the essential work skill, for example, time management, effective communication. At the same time, it could enhance all staff the anti-stress ability through training. Third, provides the suitable place to ease pressure for the staff, like recreation area, tea room and so on could boost the sense of belonging, job satisfaction as well.
On the other hand, employees themselves should control their emotion, improving communication skills to deal with different situations by several following means. First, while treating the work, they should be meticulous, conscientious and responsible attitude. The nature of the work they have determined that they can not be sloppy, can not be ambiguous. Irresponsible for the work of is irresponsible to their own and the best way to protect them is hard work, including ensuring discipline and attendance. Second, treatment of the client, the service protocol – a warm, orderly and good service for dealing with the issue of etiquette accumulation is willing to let customers to trust you then to help them solve the problem. Finally, treatment of the managers, you can object to your boss, but can only be made in private to reflect your dissatisfaction and demands, rather than in public places.
This article has collected several aspects in Call Center. Working in there demands many personal skills rather than high education experience. And also, scientific management in the call centre seems to have disappeared. In fact, it does exist. The new call center and operation mode of the company itself is a typical representative of scientific management. The use of telecommunications sales, access to information that is speedy, efficient, and reliable.
The problems and reasons what existing in call centers have been summarized and analyzed. As a whole, pressure from working is the key issue that employees are facing and tough to be solved. At last, some reasonable and practical suggestions are proposed
Generally speaking, the call centre business model brought the profit and the advantages surpassed its negative impacts and shortcoming. Although staff may face various problems while they are working, the problems still can be improved by reasonable scientific management implement.
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