It’s not uncommon for me to meet a contact center worker aspiring to move beyond their role. They accept a job to get their foot in the door and work towards career advancement. In these situations, the question I most often receive is, “How will this (my contact center job) help me get to where I want to go?” In today’s blog, I’m compiling some of the advice I’ve given and used myself over the years.
Let’s be honest; the daily grind of working in a contact center can sometimes feel relentless. The seemingly endless calls, the wide array of customer queries, and the pressure to meet service targets may make your job seem like a high-stakes, thankless task. But what if I told you that your experience as a contact center agent equips you with unique skills and insights that make you a prime candidate for promotion within your organization?
As a former contact center agent, I can attest to the truth of this claim. The skills and insights gained in a contact center can potentially launch your career to greater heights. They enable you to deeply understand and serve customers, making you a valuable asset in various roles and departments. You just need to commit to mastering them and then marketing yourself.
Here’s a look at how to get started.
Harnessing Your Skills
First, let’s identify the key skills that you’ve honed as a contact center agent:
Communication: You’ve mastered the art of effective communication—both listening and expressing yourself clearly. You’ve learned to tailor your communication style to each customer’s needs, which can translate into excellent team communication and customer-facing skills in any department.
Problem-Solving: Every customer presents a unique issue that requires a tailored solution. You’ve become a quick thinker and creative problem-solver—a skill highly sought after in roles such as project management or operations.
Empathy: You know how to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and provide compassionate service. This empathy can translate into roles in human resources, training, and customer success, where understanding the feelings and motivations of others is crucial.
Product Knowledge: You’ve acquired intimate knowledge of your company’s products and services. This understanding is valuable in many areas, particularly in roles that involve improving product offerings or assisting in developing new ones.
Targeting Your Next Role
Now that you have a better understanding of your skillset, let’s consider how these skills can apply to other roles within your organization:
Sales and Marketing: Your experience dealing directly with customers gives you a unique understanding of their needs, preferences, and pain points. This can be invaluable in a sales or marketing role where the aim is to attract and retain customers.
Product Development or Management: Your deep understanding of the company’s products and firsthand experience with customer feedback make you an asset to the product development team. You can provide valuable input into how products are developed and improved.
Human Resources or Training: Your ability to empathize and communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals equips you perfectly for roles in HR or training. You can help shape the company’s future by training new employees or supporting existing ones.
Quality Assurance or Operations: Your problem-solving skills and knowledge of service standards can be an asset in a quality assurance or operations role where you can help improve processes to better serve customers.
Moving Up the Ladder
So, how can you leverage your skills and insights to get that promotion? Here are a few steps to follow:
Identify Your Goals: Clearly defining your career objectives is a crucial first step. Start by assessing your interests and strengths. Reflect on the parts of your current role that you enjoy and excel in. Do you love the rush of closing a sale? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when resolving complex customer issues? Or perhaps you find satisfaction in calming an irate customer and turning their experience around? Once you’ve pinpointed these interests, you can research various roles or departments within your organization that allow you to leverage these strengths. Understand the responsibilities, necessary skills, and qualifications associated with these roles.
For instance, if you enjoy problem-solving and have a knack for technology, consider a role in operations or IT. If you excel at empathizing with customers and defusing tense situations, roles in human resources or customer success could be a great fit.
Speak to Your Manager: Your manager can be an invaluable source of guidance and support. Start by scheduling a meeting to discuss your career aspirations. In this conversation, express your desire to grow within the organization and ask for their advice on achieving your goals.
They might suggest training programs to enhance your skills or introduce you to key individuals in your targeted department. Additionally, managers often have insights into upcoming opportunities in the organization and can vouch for you when such positions become available.
Develop Relevant Skills: While your contact center experience has provided you with a solid skills foundation, you may need to acquire additional competencies specific to your desired role. Look for opportunities to do so both within and outside your current job.
If you aspire to a role in sales, you might volunteer to assist the sales team during a product launch or shadow a seasoned salesperson. Online platforms such as Coursera or LinkedIn Learning offer courses on many topics. For example, gaining certification in project management or digital marketing can make you more attractive for these roles.
Network: Building relationships with individuals in your desired field or department can provide you with a realistic understanding of what the role involves. Networking can also increase your visibility within the organization and potentially lead to job opportunities.
Consider setting up informational interviews or casual coffee meetings to learn more about their roles. Attend company-wide events or join internal groups and committees to meet colleagues from different departments.
Bonus tip: Networking should extend beyond your current business. A few years ago, I joined CX Accelerator, a non-profit community that exists to equip, encourage, and connect customer experience professionals at every stage in their journey. It’s a great place to connect with others like you and further build the network, knowledge, and resources needed to make the next move in your career.
Apply: Once you’ve prepared and identified a role that fits your goals, don’t hesitate to apply. Understand that you might not meet every qualification listed in the job posting, and that’s okay. What’s more important is your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and the transferable skills from your contact center experience.
In your application and interviews, highlight examples of how your background as a contact center agent prepares you for this new role. Maybe your ability to handle high call volumes and demanding customers have honed your stress management skills, which are essential for a high-pressure job in operations. Or, your experience dealing with a diverse customer base has equipped you with a deep understanding of consumer needs, which would be invaluable in a marketing role.
No matter what, emphasize your commitment to the company and eagerness to contribute to its success in a new capacity.
Working in a contact center provides an exceptional foundation for advancing your career. By understanding the skills you’ve acquired and learning to apply them to various roles, you can use your experience as a springboard to greater success. Your time on the frontline has prepared you to excel in the business world, so don’t be afraid to reach for that next rung on the corporate ladder. I did it, and so can you.
This blog post was created as part of the Vistio Knowledge Collective.