If you thrive on leading a team in a customer-focused role a career as a call centre manager could be for you
As the manager of a call centre (also called a contact centre) you will be responsible for the daily running and management of the centre through the effective use of resources.
You'll have responsibility for meeting, and possibly setting, customer service targets as well as planning areas of improvement or development. Call centre managers ensure that calls and emails are answered by staff within agreed time scales and in an appropriate manner.
Call centre managers liaise with businesses for which they provide the first response, as well as the third parties who supply products to the centre. You'll coordinate and motivate call centre staff and may manage staff recruitment.
There are two main types of call centre, although some centres may incorporate both functions:
Your duties vary according to the type of centre you work in but generally involve:
Salaries vary greatly according to the location, size (usually measured in 'seats') and type of call centre (financial, cold selling, public service, educational, etc).
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours regularly include unsocial hours, particularly in the early stages of a career. Some call centres operate usual office hours but others may be open up to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Some centres target overseas clients in different time zones.
It is common to work additional hours or overtime at management level to allow representatives of the management team to be present on a rota basis throughout the call centre's opening hours.
Entry is generally open to all graduates and those with a HND, although some call centres may require their staff to have specialist knowledge or fluency in a foreign language.
The following subjects may improve your chances with specialist employers (for example, an IT helpdesk or airline):
Entry without a degree or HND is possible at call centre operative level, with the chance to work your way up to a management role.
Personal qualities and a pragmatic, common-sense attitude are likely to be more important than the subject and level of study.
BTEC Apprenticeships (QCF) in Customer Service and Contact Centre Operations are also available at intermediate and advanced level. For details see Pearson qualifications.
You will need to show:
Many organisations across a range of sectors use call centres as a key function of the business, for example:
Other employment opportunities could be with shared service centres (SSCs). Similar to call centres in how they operate, SSCs are created by global companies to centralise all corporate services in their main areas of operation, such as IT, finance and HR.
Look for job vacancies at:
Vacancies are also advertised through specialist recruitment agencies such as Call Centre Recruitment. Recruitment for many of the larger call centres is handled by recruitment agencies, which may have an office on the call centre site and deal with applications, interviewing and inductions.
Relevant work experience in a customer services role will enhance your prospects.
Training for call centre managers tends to be on the job and continues through all grades.
Training aims to provide managers with essential skills and knowledge related to the effective control of incoming/outgoing calls, as well as planning development, resource allocation and staffing issues.
Other areas covered by training include:
A number of recognised and approved training courses for call centre managers are provided by the CCMA. These include one-day courses in areas such as:
They also provide one-to-one mentoring for call centre managers and team leaders. You can study online for the CCMA and Professional Planning Forum’s BSc in Customer Contact Planning and Management, which is provided by the University of Ulster.
A range of training courses in areas such as first impressions and service management are available via the Institute of Customer Service (ICS). Membership of the CCMA or ICS is also useful for networking and career development opportunities.
Masters and MBA courses in subjects such as performance management may be useful.
Many graduates gain experience in other areas of sales and marketing and develop their skills before moving into a call centre manager role. Alternatively, they may join a call centre as operatives and progress with experience to supervisor and then manager level.
Generally, outbound centres have a higher staff turnover and can offer quicker promotion opportunities. For outbound sales, determination and resilience can lead to rapid progression within the sector.
Career progression may involve managing larger call centres or specialising in certain aspects of call centre management. This might include:
Call centre managers may even move to roles where call centre management is only one aspect of their job. For example, research managers may be responsible for coordinating market research projects and data management.
You may also become involved with the training and development of other centre managers or may move into management consultancy and specialise in advising call centres. There may be the opportunity to be a divisional manager, coordinating a number of call centres.
There are also opportunities for you to work abroad. For links to call centre management professional bodies throughout the world see the CCMA.