Four years ago, I did not know what a contact centre was. Yes, it’s hard to believe, given a significant portion of my days are spent thinking, talking and learning about this industry. As someone who is equally interested both in statistics & numbers and communication & connection, I have developed a passion for the contact centre industry – which is, for me, is a perfect illustration of the necessary mutual inclusivity of qualitative and quantitative data.
As a very fresh (and technically unemployed) university graduate with an inbox full of application rejection emails, I entered the Auckland job-market somewhat cynical and disillusioned. This changed when – after yet another rejection from an application that I was under-qualified and under-networked for – I changed my SEEK search categories and ticked the "Call Centre & Customer Service" box.
Having stumbled upon an ad for an insurance company where a friend worked at the time, I clicked the apply button and after no more than 72 hours, several phone calls, one assessment centre and one other job-offer, I accepted my new position as a Customer Care Consultant. Now, I'll be the first to admit that, in my naivety, there were times where I took the opportunity for granted. I was surrounded by peers and family members who had found graduate-pathway jobs in Big 4 firms and banks, and at times I was often reluctant to talk to those around me about my new job. This misguided belief in perpetuated stigmas around contact centres is ironic, given I am incredibly passionate about debunking these stereotypes when speaking to candidates that share the same apprehension about this career path as I once did.
Looking back, despite my inability to admit it at the time, I actually loved this job. Well, I loved the learning and the chance to undergo comprehensive training in an area I knew very little about before this role. I loved the problem solving and the number-crunching. I loved the structured coaching around how to conduct a call, how to write the perfect email, how to deescalate a difficult customer situation. Most of all, I loved my team, and working with a diverse, kind and fun group of people, who I might not have had the chance to meet, if I had not taken this job. Admittedly, I struggled with the changing shift times, the set "two-fifteens-and-a-halfie-break-structure" and being berated by those few unhappy & unforgiving customers. But, even these aspects of the role have set me up with invaluable skills and insight, although I did not realise it at the time. The opportunities in contact centres to develop resilience, problem solving, empathy, instruction-following and communication capabilities in a structured, coaching-focused setting early in one's career are – in my opinion – unparalleled.
I did move on from this role in less than a year to take on an opportunity that I had been effectively wanting since I had graduated. I owe this to my Customer Care role, I would not have been given an opportunity to recruit for contact centres with no recruitment experience, had I not been employed in this industry. I came away from that role with a love for being on the phone, enough insurance knowledge to be able to apply in my personal life, four very good friends who I am still close with today and first-hand experience in a sector I now recruit in.
If Georgia's story has inspired you to take an unexpected direction in your career, give her and the Customer Service team a call, you may find the career you have been waiting for.