A Contact Centre Career – Is It For You?

Most Canadians have interacted with a contact centre and there is definitely an opinion about what we do.  I say “we” because it is what “I” do. 

I am very proud of my career path, which of course started with a path off the phones.  And, this is definitely a humorous but true reality about our profession - in order to progress and be promoted, you have to move away from the core function, which is to take calls, answer emails, chat, or handle escalations.

So, how do you chart your path off the phones?

  1. Be GREAT at what you do!: Yes, it is true. Before you will be given additional accountability, you need to demonstrate that you take your current work seriously.
  2. Learn more about the business of contact centres: Contact centres are little businesses unto themselves, and once they get to a certain size, they have similar functions. Take the time to learn about those functions. Ask if you can do some side-by-side’s with other departments, check out some contact centre sites and blogs, ask your team leader, manager and others about how your contact centre works.
  3. Move laterally: Getting ahead isn’t just about moving up. Experiential learning is also important, not only to learn more about different groups but also about what you enjoy. Remember, it is all about YOUR career path.
  4. Make a plan:  It is well known that what gets written down gets done. So, take the time to document a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated – What, Why and When are the key columns and don’t forget to put your goal in big block letters at the top of the document. Track your progress and adjust your actions as you learn more.  Share the plan with your team leader or manager, so that they can coach and counsel you as well as advocate on your behalf if an opportunity becomes available. 

So, what was my path off the phones?  I can proudly say that I was an admin, who used to do scheduling on graph paper and payroll on huge green sheets. My manager thought that I’d be a great candidate to learn more about a new tool that automated contact centre scheduling and payroll. Today, these functions are generally called workforce planning. 

I bounced around in support and operations roles, worked in outsourcing and in-house contact centres as well as in the U.S.  And yes, I had a plan; which for many years was front and centre on my refrigerator. Did everything work out as I planned? Absolutely not, but it was easy to course correct when it didn’t. Don’t forget to be patient. The goal is to be ready for your next job, before it is posted, and sometimes that takes time.  

So, what are your plans?  Will contact centres be your career of choice?  How are you going to get from here to there?  Some of the best advice that I ever received was: “No one will ever care as much about your career as you will.”  Please share your advice, below!

......if this post piqued your interest in what is happening in call centres today - you might be interested in coming out to our offices (LoyaltyOne in downtown Toronto on May 16) for a CMA event about re-thinking channel strategies.

Sharmane Good

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