Is working in a call-centre worthwhile?

Now for something topical. Causing much excitement in the news today has been the results from the Office for National Statistics research on the nations well being. Here we take a quick look at what it reveals about the soul of the call centre.

As part of the Office for National Statistics research on wellbeing respondents were asked provide a rating on a scale of 0 – 10 for the question “to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile”  with researchers noting in the results that a persons occupation had some impact on the scores:

Of those people who are in employment, the type of occupation people have appears to have an effect on people’s subjective well-being ratings.

So, can we ask,  is working in a call-centre worthwhile?

Though the ONS data do not specifically refer to call-centre’s call-centre agents are themselves included within the occupational classification category ‘sales and customer service occupations’ along with telesales workers and shop assistants.

According to the analysis the answers of this group contrasted strongly with the responses given by those in caring occupations who came top in terms of rating what they do as worthwhile:

For the ‘worthwhile’ question however, people in the ‘caring, leisure and other service occupations’ gave the highest average ratings, along with people in ‘professional occupations’ (8.0 out of 10). The lowest average ratings were given by people in ‘sales and customer service occupations’, ‘process
plant and machine operatives’, and people in ‘elementary occupations’ (7.5 out of 10)

It’s perhaps unsurprising that people in caring occupations, people whose day job is helping others, report that they feel the things they do are worthwhile, but isn’t that what customer service is about too – helping people – So why are call centre workers among the bottom group?

The customer service ethos is one which is about helping people, but I can’t help thinking this has a hollow ring to it – after all it’s not like we’re helping people to do anything more worthwhile than flex their consumerist muscles as opposed to helping people in some more fundamental way.

And then hasn’t the ethos been corrupted by our call-centre employers pure pursuit of profit? I know from my time in the call centre I really didn’t feel that I did much apart from making a few people with expensive watches and flash cars a little bit richer – in fact helping people was almost actively discouraged – oh so very worthwhile…


One thought on “Is working in a call-centre worthwhile?

  1. ” in fact helping people was almost actively discouraged”…you are spot on here – recently had an experience of customer service in the banking sector – a major bank that wants to go from big to best, as they put it. Any attempt to assist a customer or sort out a complaint was overwhelmed with apathy from the other staff, so exhausted were they with silly targets, threats of redundancy and sheer fear of making a fuss. They currently have 30% of complaints going to the FSA, as there is no incentive to resolve them properly and sort out the reason why the complaint arose in the first place. I was a tad disillusioned to say the least.

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