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How do I join a BPO?

Zia Shiekh | December 21, 2004

Get Ahead presents BPO Buzz, a series of articles on the BPO or international call centre industry.

This series will covers key positions in the industry.

We begin with the Customer Service Representative, a position that comprises almost 80 percent of the workforce at a call centre.BPO

Let's begin with the Customer Service Representative, who is also referred to as Customer Support Associate, Customer Service Professional or, simply, Agent.

This is an entry level position and most often the starting point from which you can build a career in the BPO/ call centre industry. 

What is a CSR's profile?

In India, CSRs are generally quite young.

They fall in the 21 to 25 years age group and tend to have one or two years of experience behind them, usually in the services sector (this means hotels, travel agencies, sales, etc).

What skills sets do you need if you want to excell as a CSR?

In an international call centre environment, the following skills are critical:

~ You need to have a good command -- both verbal and written -- over the English language.

~ Clear voice and diction (pronunciation) if you are interested in a job that will require you to answer calls (also known as voice-based programmes).

~ Familiarity with Western cultures or a willingness to learn/ adapt to the US/ UK culture.

~ Strong customer support or sales or technical abilities.

~ Basic proficiency with computers and a familiarity with the Windows environment.

~ A good typing speed is an asset.

~ You must be willing to work night shifts.

~ You must have at least completed high school, though some companies insist on undergraduate (you should be doing your B Com, B Sc, BA, BE, etc) degrees.

Is being a CSR boring?

Call centres provide dynamic and fast-moving work environments. This can often get very stressful, especially in India, where most of the work -- that of supporting American customers/ consumers -- is done during the night. 

In a job that constantly involves people interaction, there can hardly be a dull moment for CSRs as they move from one customer to another with the aim of providing superior service and building lifelong customer relationships for their clients.

But, like any other job, doing this can become repetitive and monotonous after a while.

BPO employers thus need to offer their employees a variety of jobs across functions (departments) as well as different programmes and processes.

Is a CSR's job unstable? Are his/ her career prospects subject to the whims of the client?

A CSR's job is as stable as any other job in the world. 

The best BPO players in India are building strong careers for their people; they try to make their roles more interesting and exciting. 

It is important, though, that a CSR deliver the required results. 

If there are performance issues or the client is not satisfied, he could pull out for lack of customer satisfaction. This would make the CSR's job unstable.

What are the various CSR positions available today?

The alternatives available to a CR are varied, considering the kind of services the Indian BPO industry provides the world. Here are some of them:

~ Customer care programmes that help resolve customer queries and handle complaints.

~ Technical support or help desk services.

~ Telemarketing/ sales programmes.

~ Collections (outbound calling to collect from customers).

~ Back-office data/ transaction processing.

Similarly, CSRs can switch between different channels of customer support like voice-based support and e-services (e-mail management or web chat) for example. 

They also have opportunities to cover different industry verticals (a particular sector like financial services, retail, telecom, IT, etc) or move between different companies in the same vertical/ sector (like AOL, MSN, HP, etc, in the IT sector).

How much can a CSR earn?

Typically, a CSR earns about Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per month.

What is a CSR's scope for growth?

Given the current situation where India is facing a severe shortage of middle and senior management in the international call centre space (because the industry did not really exist until a few years ago), opportunities for compensation and career growth are unparalleled. 

There are various career opportunities within BPO companies and how you avail of them will depend on your interest, aptitude, skills and the positions available. 

Some potential career growth areas include:

Operations: Team Leaders/ Supervisors

Quality: Quality Coaches/ Quality Controllers/ Quality Assurance Supervisors

Training: Voice/ Accent/ Culture Trainers or Product/ Process Trainers

Client Services: Account Managers/ Client Relationship Executives

Project Management: Project Managers/ Migration Executives

Human Resources: HR Executives/ Managers

IT: Network Administrators, ACD/ Dialler Managers, System Administrators

If you enjoy teaching and sharing your knowledge and expertise, you could consider a career in training. This is very popular and the pay is good.

If you enjoy interacting with people and have a flair for managing client relationships, then Client Services is your growth area.

If you have the flair or the background in quality control, do explore Quality Control and Assurance.

Many Technical Support Associates prefer the technology area and can pursue careers as part of a call centre's IT team. You can specialise in specific areas like networking, application development and maintenance, systems administration or telecom management. 

There are also roles in infrastructure management which require both relationship management as well as technical skill sets.

If you have a strong aptitude for soft skills (people interaction) and people management, Human Resources could be your forte. 

If you are interested in sales and marketing, there is plenty to do in the business development area within the BPO and call centre industry. This often involves direct interaction with senior executives in the West over the phone or in one-on-one meetings.

You can also pursue a career in project management if you enjoy working in a project-based environment.

Which of these is your choice?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

More articles by Zia Shiekh

Want a free international trip? Work for a BPO

How to choose the right BPO

Confident? Fit for BPO

Are you savvy about BPOs?

BPO: Myths and reality

Zia Shiekh is the CEO, Infowavz International, a leading offshore business process outsourcing firm.

Do you need guidance on careers in the BPO sector? Write to Zia Sheikh!

Share your comments

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 10

Sub: job seeking

can anybody help me out it providing a call centre job or in any BPO r KPO

Posted by prashanth

Sub: ho to join and what are the qualification needed

What should i have to do if i want to join call centre.. I have finished higher secondary level and i can speak and write ...

Posted by Lakshmanan

Sub: ca i join a BPO

my education is diploma and i want to know that can i join a BPO

Posted by santosh

Sub: Voice & Accent training

Hi,this Lily Job. I'm desperately looking to take a career in Voice & Accent. I'm an M.Phil graduate in English. I would appreciate if you ...

Posted by Ruth Lily

Sub: looking for a job

hi,i have compleated B.A, Currently working in suma conductors as the post of since one year.can i join B.P.O / Call center. thanking you, ...

Posted by pradeepta kumar khuntia


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