For those of you who don’t know me personally, I want to share some of my previous work experience and how working in a Call Centre prepared me for Parenthood! Before I delve into the Call Centre saga, let’s rewind back to my school days and talk a little about my educational and career journey and a few of the experiences that have shaped who I am today and ultimately led to my stint working in a Call Centre!
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher. My ultimate career and life goal would be to guide a class full of wonderful children through their lessons, preparing them for their examinations and future careers. As I was so certain I wanted to teach, I did not explore any other career options, and worked towards my goal. I was really motivated to achieve my dream and make my family proud of me.
My lovely high school didn’t have the A-Level route that I needed to pursue my dreams and I had to move after my GCSE year to a local Grammar school. It was tough, the teaching style was vastly different and a group of boys gave me and some of the other new pupils a really hard time. Things got very bad for me as I grew more scared of one of the bullies in particular. I didn’t realise at the time that allowing my fear to take over was giving him more power. I also didn’t realise that he was picking on others to make himself feel better. As an adult looking back, I can’t see why I was afraid of him, but I clearly remember the feeling of dread he made me feel. Even though I had a very good group of friends I spent my days feeling absolutely terrified and became consumed with anxiety, and felt very down for the two years of my A-Level studies. I found it hard to concentrate and would often feel as though I was going to stop breathing, I lost the joy I once had for learning and plodded along trying to deal with the worry I felt all of the time. Due to the bully at school, and my slipping mood, I also began to struggle with concerns about my self worth and despite coming across as happy to my friends and family, I really was feeling very low. The harsh truth is, I was not sharing what was going on at school or in my head, I was not telling those closest to me how I really felt. I had become an expert at masquerading my low mood and therefore was not receiving the help I desperately needed.
I say this a lot but if you are struggling, no matter how big or small your worries are you should absolutely share how you feel and don’t let things spiral out of control. (You can read more Here)
Somehow I managed to get through the two years of A Level study and achieved a place at my chosen University to study teaching. I was on a three year course that encompassed a degree in Religious Education, and also afforded me my Teaching Qualification. I enjoyed my time living in Lancaster, but struggled still with my feelings of self worth and would often go through periods of feeling low. I am so thankful for the loyal friends I had who were a great support. I graduated and started a teaching job in Blackburn, England. Teaching was great and the pupils were lovely, but I felt that the National Curriculum that I was teaching in accordance with, did not allow for meaningful engagement with all pupils and was more focused on driving the top to succeed. With a heavy heart I decided to look into other career options.
I found a new job at home in Northern Ireland and happily worked as a Civic Educator, and then a Coordinator of Volunteers for 3-4 years. It was wonderful, I worked with amazing young people and colleagues and was genuinely sad when we faced redundancy. During my time working for Public Achievement I gained true happiness. I travelled to Ethiopia (this will definitely be a blog post of its own) and realised just how much I had to be thankful for.
I was finally content with who I was, my self doubts simmered away and I felt more confident. I had learnt to forgive those bullies who had hurt me in the past and embrace the positive side of life. I actually met my Husband during this time of my life, and I have been truly happy and content ever since.
It’s probably time to address the Call centre now! With impending redundancy, I started to look for a new job. Sadly I couldn’t see any job with great longevity in teaching, or youth work so decided to apply to work for a call centre which had the technical support out source with O2 Broadband and Telephone technical support. Later on down the line, working for the same company I provided technical support for Sky Telephone and Broadband. Work wise, working in the call centre felt at times as though it had the potential to destroy the goodness in me, but it also made me stronger, introduced me to the amazing best friend that is Natalie and in a strange way prepared me for parenthood!
I could be wrong, but I think I’ve went on enough about my story! It’s finally time for me to tell you how Working in a call centre prepared me for parenthood!
When you’re in a call centre environment you work very closely with a team. The team is a very important element to your working life, you go through ups and downs with abusive customers, trying to meet statistics and dealing with back to back calls. I learnt that trusting or another and showing each other support as well as sharing best practise was key to making this intricate dynamic work. The truth also applies to parenting with a husband/partner. Tiredness can really factor in to the early days of parenting, therefore it’s so important to lean on one another, to trust and to be compassionate to each other. I am forever thankful for the extremely active co-parent I have in my husband. I can recall one night when I just couldn’t wake up to do the night feed, I literally could not get together the energy to lift my head, Gary was there for me, a strong and dependable team member, I needed that rest and he was amazing. He’s never taken it as ‘my job’ or ‘his job’, we’ve always been united as one team!
Although working in a call centre often has a bad ‘rep’. There are some great perks that come along with the job. I received discounted products, prizes, bonuses, promotions and such great training whilst working there. I also had the opportunity to join a workforce choir which really boosted the mood during the week. When you’re working in.m a call centre you live for the perks, and this is greatly comparable to parenthood. Being a parent also comes with great, life changing perks. My heart has never been so full since the birth of my son. I love watching every little and big thing he does, I love being around him, I just love him with all my heart, he is the best thing that has ever happened- honestly, perks galore!
Looking after the customer
I think this is easily the most understandable Parenting lesson I learnt whilst working in the call centre. Regardless of what is going on in your life, when you log on the phone and put the headset on you have to be customer orientated and the customer must come first. Looking after the customer requires patience, tuned in listening skills, compassion, empathy and care. I have personally helped resolve technical issues for people of all ages, of different genders and vastly different backgrounds. I have dealt with customers who have been pleasant, and also dealt with extremely abusive customers, I have always remained as composed as possible and always put the customers needs above my own. The same applies to my style of parenting, I always put him first, and I am certain I always will. He is my life. He is my Husbands life, every emotion he feels we feel too, every thing he needs we provide. No matter if he is a little grumpy with his Teeth or restless, or full of energy, it’s fine, he has us to support him through it.
Working with guidelines
There are so many crucial things to learn when you work in a call centre; important rules and guidelines that keep both you and the customer safe, allow you to build rapport, and ultimately enable you to look after the customer in a stress free manner. As a parent, I’m a big fan of guidelines and follow the NHS rules as closely as I can (I’ve written more about that Here) and I’m generally very good at doing so. Having the experience of working in the call centre enabled me to be able to really focus on important guidelines and analyse how to put them into best practise.
I won’t lie. The call centre work was one of my least favourite jobs, if not the least favourite. On a daily basis you could go from being called names, shouted at, talked over and generally put down. I was a technical support advisor so the calls were inbound, meaning I did not make calls to customers but received them. It was tiring working 12 hour shifts of back to back calls and it was difficult to keep focused on the positive side of life. I would often come home and cry, or have a quick cry in the bathroom after a bad call. I’ve written extensively about how tiring parenthood is (Here, Here, Here and even Here) but I can honestly say the tiredness and mental exhaustion of the call centre was much more severe and intense, therefore I am more able and prepared to work through my tiredness with my Son, mainly because he’s loving and affectionate and looking after him is a true privilege and a genuine joy.
It’s been so lovely reflecting on what was a bad, but also character building time of my life. After working in the call centre I went on to work in very happy work places, had my son and happily stayed just as close to Natalie as we had been when we worked together, she’s a real gem. Not only was I lucky enough to make a best friend but I also got greatly prepared for parenthood despite not even knowing it at the time!