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How to Become a Call Centre Advisor

Responsibilities, working hours, what to expect and qualifications needed

Career guides » How to Become a Call Centre Advisor

What does a call centre advisor do?

A call centre advisor works in customer services and is sometimes also known as a call centre operator, agent or assistant. They deal with various customer enquiries, mainly by telephone and email, but may also communicate to customers via text, post and web chat. Call centres are also called contact centres.

Call centre advisors can work in various sectors and for employers of different sizes. Their role and responsibilities may involve general customer service work. Alternatively, they may specialise in something more specific, such as legal, medical, debt recovery or finance. Therefore, what call centre advisors do will depend on where they work and their specialisms.

A call centre advisor’s main aim is to ensure they handle customers’ enquiries correctly so they carry on using the business’s services or products. They may also have a role in attracting new customers, selling additional services or products or helping to recover debts. Overall, call centre advisors can help businesses make more money.

Call centre advisors will carry out many tasks, including answering customer queries by various means, advising customers about services and products, handling customer complaints, supporting customers with technical problems, dealing with customer orders and payments, liaising with other internal departments, etc. The role may also encompass administrative and computer work, such as updating customer records on databases or other software.

Call centre advisors will work with many people internally, e.g. managers, supervisors, team leaders, other call centre advisors and staff in various departments, e.g. sales, technical and customer care. They may also liaise with external stakeholders, such as customers, clients, suppliers, charities, Government departments, local authorities, etc.

Call centre advisors typically work in contact centres or offices, but homeworking opportunities may be available for some roles. They can work for different-sized companies, from large national organisations to small/medium businesses. There may be freelance opportunities and temporary positions with recruitment agencies, but most tend to be employed jobs.

Responsibilities

A call centre advisor’s responsibilities will depend on many factors, including who they work for, the type of customer service they specialise in and the sector in which they work.

Some examples of their day-to-day duties may include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Taking inbound calls and making outbound ones to call customers back.
  • Answering customer enquiries via telephone, email, text, web chat and post.
  • Dealing with customer orders and any other enquiries.
  • Contacting new and existing customers for telesales and market research purposes.
  • Dealing with credit and debit card payments.
  • Advising customers about services and products.
  • Supporting customers with technical problems, e.g. fixing computer issues.
  • Handling customer complaints.
  • Providing other services, such as counselling, legal information, career assistance and welfare/benefits advice.
  • Meeting targets.
  • Maintaining customer records, e.g. on databases.
  • Other general administrative tasks where required.
  • Liaising with staff in other internal departments to resolve issues.

Working hours

A call centre advisor can expect to work 38-40 hours a week. However, they can do more or fewer hours depending on the requirements of their role.

Being a call centre advisor is not usually a 9-5 job. Therefore, those entering the role must be prepared to work unsociable hours, e.g. evenings, weekends and bank holidays. In some jobs, individuals may have to work nights to account for different time zones globally.

Jobs are usually full-time and permanent. However, some employers allow employees to work flexibly, i.e. part-time, job share, hybrid and remote. Temporary roles with recruitment agencies are common.

It is uncommon for call centre advisors to travel or work overseas as part of their role, but some jobs may require this depending on the sector.

Call centre advisors may need to travel to work at different contact centres. However, this will depend on the company and the role.

What to expect

There are many positives to being a call centre advisor, especially if individuals love being constantly busy and working in a customer service role. It can be exciting speaking to people from all walks of life on the telephone and answering various enquiries.

It can be a rewarding career choice and give individuals a sense of purpose in their jobs. Some customers may be stressed or upset, and call centre advisors will help and support them. Call centre advisors also help keep customers happy, attract new customers and contribute to a successful business. They can go home after the working day knowing they have made a positive difference.

Although the role can be challenging, it can also be great for those who easily get bored. Each customer enquiry will be different. It will require individuals to think on their feet, look into things and problem-solve. It is a busy role with various tasks and demands, so there is never a dull moment.

There are plenty of call centre advisor roles, with jobs available nationally across the UK and different areas and sectors in which to specialise. There is decent job security with this career, as jobs are numerous, and many industries employ call centre advisors.

Some roles allow individuals to work from home or hybrid work, which can be great for some people, especially those with children. However, there may be a requirement to have access to certain IT equipment.

The skills learnt as call centre advisors are transferable, e.g. communication, telephone, problem-solving and customer service. It gives individuals more career options if they decide to move into other roles in the future.

Even though there are positives to being a call centre advisor, there are challenges and cons, e.g.:

  • Fast-paced and demanding – being a call centre advisor can be stressful at times. They often have to juggle different demands, meet tight deadlines and achieve targets. The role is constantly busy, and customer enquiries can come in thick and fast. Individuals must be able to multi-task and prioritise to be successful in this role.
  • Challenging customers – call centre advisors can deal with various customers, some of which can be unpleasant and even verbally abusive. Working in any customer service role can be challenging and mentally demanding. Most companies will have a no-tolerance approach to abuse and will support their employees.
  • Telephone work – being a call centre advisor requires individuals to speak on the telephone with customers for most of the working day, which may not suit some people.
  • Unpredictable working hours – businesses must meet customers’ demands, which requires them to answer queries at unsociable hours. Therefore, call centre advisors can work shifts in the evenings and on nights, weekends and bank holidays.
  • Working in a contact centre – contact centres can be noisy workplaces, as they tend to be open plan with many advisors handling calls. Also, for most of their working day, call centre advisors will sit down at the computer, so it can be difficult being sedentary for so long. However, it can be a good career option for those who cannot do physical work.

 

Every career choice has pros and cons, and individuals must know what to expect before deciding whether it is for them. It is a fast-paced role, and juggling different demands and meeting targets can be challenging and stressful. Customers can also be unpleasant, working in a contact centre can be hard, and the hours can be unpredictable. However, there are many positives too, and those who become call centre advisors enjoy their work, as they help customers and businesses.

When considering whether to be a call centre advisor and the type of role, individuals should look at the pros and cons. They should also ensure they have the right personal qualities to carry out the role and responsibilities required.

Personal qualities needed to be a call centre advisor

Some of the personal qualities a call centre advisor requires will include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • A passion for customer service.
  • A clear voice and professional telephone manner.
  • Positive and a can-do attitude.
  • Patient, empathetic, caring, compassionate, friendly and approachable.
  • Sensitive and understanding.
  • Motivated, determined and resilient.
  • Confidential and discrete.
  • Excellent customer service skills.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.
  • Excellent administration skills.
  • Active listening skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Teamworking skills.
  • Time management and organisation skills.
  • Telephone skills.
  • Being thorough, accurate and having attention to detail.
  • The ability to follow instructions.
  • The ability to be flexible and adapt to change.
  • The ability to deal with conflict and diffuse escalating situations.
  • The ability to juggle different demands, prioritise and multitask.
  • The ability to work to tight deadlines and meet targets.
  • The ability to work well under pressure and remain confident and calm in stressful situations.
  • The ability to use IT equipment, e.g. computers and hand-held devices, and relevant software packages.
  • The ability to work well with others in a team and alone unsupervised using their own initiative.

Qualifications and training

Qualifications

There are many routes to becoming a call centre advisor. Individuals could go to college, enrol on a private training course, do an apprenticeship or apply directly. They could also do work experience to help them enter the role.

College/private training

Undertaking a college course can help individuals become call centre advisors.

Some example courses that may be useful are as follows (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Level 1 Certificate for Introduction to Customer Service.
  • Level 2 Certificate in Contact Centre Operations.
  • Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service.
  • Level 3 Technical Certificate in Contact Centre Operations.
  • Level 3 Diploma in Customer Service.

 

Individuals usually need:

  • Level 1 – two or fewer GCSEs grades 3 to 1 (D to G) or equivalent.
  • Level 2 – two or more GCSEs grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) or equivalent.
  • Level 3 – four or five GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent (including English and maths).

 

Private training companies may also offer courses. It may also be worth enrolling on low-cost online short courses to see if a career as a call centre advisor would be of interest. That way, if not, it will save an individual a lot of time and trouble. Even community courses can count.

Courses and qualifications do not guarantee a role as a call centre advisor. However, it will demonstrate to employers and companies that individuals are keen on the job and may give them a competitive edge. Always check the entry requirements before applying.

Apprenticeships

There is an apprenticeship route to help individuals become call centre advisors, e.g. intermediate customer service practitioner or advanced customer service specialist.

Individuals usually need:

  • Intermediate apprenticeship – some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent.
  • Advanced apprenticeship – five GCSEs, grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths, or equivalent.

 

Opportunities are found on Government’s Apprenticeships, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and Indeed.

Applying directly

Individuals do not need qualifications for some roles, but companies may ask for GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths.

Employers will likely want individuals who can demonstrate experience and the right skills, e.g. computer/IT, customer service, administration and telephone. During interviews, individuals may have to do practical keyboard and telephone assessments.

Individuals may need relevant qualifications for more specialist roles, e.g. advice, IT or technical support.

Call centre advisor roles are on various job websites where individuals can apply directly.

Intern call centre advisor

Work experience

Some employers may decide to take on individuals as interns and train them if they have the necessary personal qualities, skills and enthusiasm for the role. It would help individuals to have previous experience. However, the requirements will depend on each employer.

Individuals may be able to work with recruitment agencies on temporary contracts in administration, customer service or contact centre roles, which could lead to something more permanent. They may also be able to apply for a job as an assistant and move into an advisor role. Having a customer service qualification will help.

Volunteering can also help people gain valuable experience and develop skills. Individuals could volunteer with charities to help them with IT and administrative tasks and other office work. They could also work in a customer-facing or telephone role, e.g. fundraising. There is information on volunteering and local opportunities on Do-IT, NCVO and Volunteering Matters.

Attending training course

Training courses

Learning does not stop with experience or once someone becomes qualified. Attending relevant training courses and having additional certifications can help individuals enter the profession, enhance their employability and give them a competitive edge. Many colleges and accredited private training companies can provide relevant training courses.

Some examples of courses that may be useful for individuals looking at a career as a call centre advisor include (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Equality and diversity.
  • Work-related stress.
  • Conflict management.
  • Display screen equipment (DSE).
  • COVID-19 awareness.
  • Office health and safety.
  • Health and safety for homeworkers.
  • Data protection and the GDPR.
  • Complaints handling.
  • Customer service skills.
  • Time management skills.
  • Business management.
  • Resilience training.
  • Anti-bribery awareness.

 

Additional IT skills, e.g. in office packages and other software, and training in customer relations can also be beneficial.

Professional bodies and institutes may also advise on reputable training courses, e.g. the Institute of Customer Service and the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA). Some also provide memberships, events and support to help individuals become call centre advisors and give those already in the profession the means to continue their professional development.

The type of training required will depend on who an individual works for and their specialisms. It is worth looking at several job advertisements to identify the training needed for roles. Jobs are on websites such as GOV.UK find a job service, Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and many other sites. Also, look at recruitment agencies for roles and company websites for contact centre jobs, e.g. Sky and BT Plc.

More relevant training and competence (skills, experience and knowledge) will open up more opportunities for individuals. Refresher training is also advisable as it keeps their knowledge and skills up to date.

Criminal records checks

Some call centre advisors may need a criminal record check, especially if working with vulnerable people or in finance and banking. A criminal record, caution, warning or conviction may put off prospective employers. However, an employer should account for the seriousness of the crime, when it occurred and its relevance to the role.

The organisation that holds criminal records will depend on the country within the UK, for example:

Call centre advisor working in the healthcare industry

Where do call centre advisors work?

Call centre advisors can work in many industries, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Healthcare.
  • Government.
  • Private companies.
  • Financial services, e.g. banking.
  • Legal services.
  • Insurance.
  • Debt recovery.
  • Retail.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Aerospace and defence.
  • Transport and logistics.
  • Information technology.
  • Advertising and marketing.
  • Sales.
  • Consultancy.
  • Energy and utilities.
  • Recruitment.
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology.
  • Charitable.
  • Leisure.

 

They can also work for recruitment agencies and choose to work freelance.

Call centre advisors typically work in contact centres and office environments. However, some employers offer work-from-home jobs.

Call centre advisors spend most of their working days on the computer.

Call centre advisor earning commission

How much do call centre advisors earn?

A call centre advisor’s salary will depend on their role, qualifications, experience, geographical location, employer, working hours, contract and specialist area.

Some examples of average salaries include the following (these figures are only a guide):

  • £20,651 a year (Glassdoor).
  • Starter £15,000 a year and experienced £28,000 a year (National Careers Service).
  • £18,017 (Payscale).

 

Some call centre advisors can earn more if they are on commission, and some companies offer generous benefits, e.g. holidays, discounts, pensions and flexible working.

As an apprentice, the salary will depend on an individual’s age and how long they have been in their apprenticeship. Apprentices must earn at least the current National Minimum Wage (NMW). Some employers will pay more than this. However, it will depend on the organisation and role on offer.

Specialising in legal call centre advice

Types of call centre advisor roles to specialise in

Individuals can work in a general call centre advisor role, or they can choose to specialise, for example (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Call centre collections advisor – deals with customers who are having difficulties with their finances and have outstanding debts. They try to get payment from customers or set up payment plans to recover debts. It may require additional skills, as advisors will deal with people at stressful times.
  • Call centre customer service advisor – works in customer service departments/teams. They will answer various customer enquiries, handle complaints, give advice/guidance and provide exceptional customer care.
  • Call centre health advisor – usually works on NHS 111 calls and is the first point of contact for patients not requiring a full assessment. They provide advice and signpost callers to appropriate services to meet their needs. They can also work for private healthcare providers.
  • Call centre insurance claim advisor – works for insurance companies and communicates with customers about insurance claims. It requires individuals to take important information to help process their claims.
  • Call centre legal advisor – communicates with customers/clients regarding legal issues and claims. Some may also provide basic legal advice and administrative support to legal staff.
  • Call centre sales advisor – works in sales and can carry out duties such as handling enquiries, selling products or services, providing advice, etc.
  • Call centre technical advisor – works in technical departments and will advise and support customers with technical issues.
  • Inbound call centre advisor – answers incoming calls and queries from existing and new customers. It can also involve some selling of products and services.
  • Outbound call centre advisor – makes outgoing calls to existing and potential customers. They usually work in telesales or marketing. It may involve some cold calling, which requires additional skills.

 

There are many different roles to choose from and far too many to include here. Call centre advisors can also specialise in jobs that only involve telephone calls, emails or web chat (online).

All specialist roles require differing knowledge, skills, experience and qualities. All call centre advisors must have excellent administrative, telephone, time management and organisational skills. They will also need to be competent in IT and juggle different demands.

Any additional areas of expertise will depend on what a company is looking for and a call centre advisor’s intended specialist areas. Further qualifications and training may be necessary for specialised roles, e.g. legal and medical.

If call centre advisors do not do their roles correctly, they could handle customer enquiries poorly, miss important targets and increase customer complaints. Therefore, whatever the type of role, they must have the necessary competence to carry out the work professionally. They should also know the limits of their competency, i.e. asking for help when something is beyond their expertise.

Call centre advisor working freelance

Professional bodies

Products, services, laws, trends, customers and technologies are always changing. Therefore, call centre advisors must keep ahead of the latest developments and changes to carry out their roles effectively and correctly. Continuing professional development (CPD) gives call centre advisors the knowledge and skills to keep up to date with these changes, understand their responsibilities, and progress in their careers.

Joining a professional body can help prospective and current call centre advisors enhance their skills and overall career. They may offer different levels of membership, CPD, support and access to industry contacts and networking events.

There is an opportunity for career progression for call centre advisors. With more qualifications and experience, they can become a senior advisor, a supervisor, a team leader or a sales manager. They can also decide to specialise in specific departments, e.g. financial or IT. Alternatively, they may become freelance or work for agencies.

Knowledge, skills and experience gained from working as a call centre advisor can also lead to a career in different areas. For example, they could use their transferable skills to move to a marketing, business development, resource planning, human resources or training role.

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