Don't Call Me Maybe, Call Me Mayday
People who have never worked in a call center often think badly of call center agents. While this impression can sometimes be warranted, I suspect that there are many honest, knowledgable, and hard-working agents out there who have made calling a support line as pleasant an experience as it can be. It's just that we tend to forget such experiences because good customer service is something that we expect to be a given.
One reason why some agents prove less than stellar at their jobs is because it requires a different skill-set compared to traditional office work. Imagine working in a cubicle where the only interaction you have with customers and the outside world is through a phone and computer. People are conditioned to seeing other people when interacting with other, and when this doesn't happen, complications may arise for the uninitiated. This may change in the future as people adapt to a more digitized world, but until then, developing good communication skills becomes all the more important.
Every call center company has an extensive training program for this purpose. Most training programs emphasize the development of soft skills, which pertain to proficiencies such as communication skills, personality development, and conflict resolution. These skills are highly dependent on a person's EQ (emotional intelligence) rather than IQ (general intelligence).
Think back to your time in grade school and high school. Majority of the subjects you studied helped develop your IQ, but there were few, if any, subjects that focused on developing your EQ. And when you consider that most non-specialized jobs rely more on EQ rather than IQ, a shift towards that in the current educational system may prove wise. Until that happens, developing good call center agents will remain an uphill battle at the start.
So the next time you have a bad call center experience, just remember that being a call center agent is much harder than it looks. Save yourself some unnecessary stress and treat it as an opportunity to improve your own EQ.