Clarence Paul describes call center tenure as “As transient as the phone calls that agents make or take”. Representative Raymond “Mong” Palatino, dubbed it as an industry that’s filled with “hellos” and “goodbyes.” Others call it as the “sunshine industry” because of it’s great contribution when the world economies were actually in the darkness of financial turmoil. I don’t know which one to consider as a misnomer. All I know is the fact that call centers are a big help in the economy but at the same time, it’s a place where many stay for the sake of having a good paying job and leave when patience runs out.

A multi-country survey conducted by Callcentres.net, revealed that full-time call center agents stay in a contact center at an average 22 months, while part-time agents last for a shorter 10 months. In a January 2010 issue of Manila Bulletin, a Call Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) study shows call centers have an attrition rate of 19 percent.

[Tweet “Where can call center agents go after their short stint in their four cornered cubicles?”]

A bit of me thinks that call center agents either move to another center or go back being unemployed. Getting a regular 9-5 job doesn’t seem to be an option. For one good reason, they get a much lower pay which is an unlikely option considering that most of these young professionals have started getting a decent salary. It’s like getting demoted which is least of what you could possibly take especially if you are helping your kins in the province or supporting an extended family.

The scenarios just seemed like a catch-22. It’s either you get burned out from a job you can’t leave because you have no choice, leave and get a low paying job, else, leave and be unemployed. Okay, it’s not all too bad. There’s also a bright side to this story. Did you know that call centers are actually one of the best training grounds for freelancers?

As a product of call center exhaustion myself, I know the plight of many call center agents who are hanging onto dear job. But when I learned about blogging, online jobs, oDesk, Elance and other freelance sites, I realized that working in the call center is not the end of the story. Its stepping stone, and a training ground.

Communication

Call centers provide a very good place to train your communication skills. It’s a very important skill that every freelancer must possess. And this gives call center agents a big step ahead of the competition. Practically speaking, you could start freelancing by taking on cold calling jobs, customer service or tech support positions. You can also work as a Virtual assistant, appointment setter, or even chat support. Compared with a call center position, the big difference is the fact that you get control of your time, be able to choose which is most convenient for you, you work at home, and the stress level is highly lowered down. Pay rates are also higher as compared to working in call centers.

Multi Tasking

When you talk on the phone, gather information, identify your customer’s concern, understand their needs, and provide solution, it takes more than just communication, it takes an active mind and hand that works together all at the same time. That’s multi-tasking! And it’s another good thing that you can learn from a call center experience and bring on the table when you go freelance.

Customer Service

Customer service orientation provides a big advantage for those who are planning to start freelancing. And for those who are already into freelancing, it’s a certainty that customer service background helps a lot in handling your clients whether they are the bring-me-something-out-of-nothing kind or the more reasonable type of person. Whatever type of freelance job you may take, your background on customer service will be beneficial as you will know how to treat your clients. After all, working with a client is all about customer service. It’s just a change of environment and from a different perspective.

Sales

[Tweet “When you go freelancing, sales skill will be your bread and butter. “]If you don’t know how to sell, start learning! Whether you like it or not, freelancing is all about selling. If you’ve had the chance to do sales in previous accounts, consider it as another big plus if you decide to freelance. Call centers are actually a good breeding ground for this skill. You will learn how to close the sale, your customers buying signs, your products or services features and benefits and how it will matter to your customers. You will no longer dread the fact that you need to be persistent and consistent, because if you do, you’re planning to quit early in this line of job.

Bottom Line

These are probably some of the basic trainings that you can get from working in a call center and there can be more. I will not guarantee that you can get a job, but if you have these skills, I am sure that you will have an easier life getting hired. You don’t need to hang onto something and whine for the rest of your life. You don’t need to look back one day and regret why you did not leave the call center sooner. You have a choice! You just need to make that choice and use what you have learned from those experiences. After all, call center experience is not bad at all, its actually a stepping stone that can help you reach greater heights.

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