A new contact centre training programme in Hamilton will provide the ideal pathway to some exciting career opportunities.
Long considered the contact centre capital of New Zealand, Hamilton is home to a plethora of call centres, including Telecom, IRD, WINZ, ACC and Genesis. Now, thanks to New Zealand Management Academies (NZMA), those keen to break into this booming industry can gain the qualifications, skills and experience they need to land their dream job.
NZMA Waikato has just launched its Certificate in Contact Centre and Employment Skills Level 3, with the first programme starting next month. The 20-week course is approved by NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) and covers everything from customer service and sales techniques, to dealing with difficult customers and using contact centre systems and equipment.
As part of their training, students must also take part in a live calling campaign. NZMA’s Auckland South Academy, which has been delivering the programme for several years now, has run campaigns for organisations such as the Cancer Society, LifeLine and Heart Children New Zealand.
The course - Hamilton’s only official contact centre training programme - will be delivered by Bernadette Wichman, who has had a highly successful career in the sector, including eight years working for Telecom, where she was a CSR (Customer Service Representative), a team leader, and also did mentor training.
“There are easily 20-plus contact centres in Hamilton. All the big guns are here, along with lots of smaller ones as well, and as a result there are a huge number of jobs,” says Bernadette.
“In the past five weeks I’ve seen more than 20 CSR positions advertised on SEEK. There are a lot of great opportunities out there for people with the right skills and qualifications. I know most of the managers of all these contact centres from my time working in the industry, so students on our new course will have a nice big network to engage with and take advantage of.”
This, teamed with the fact that NZMA has its own recruitment service, NZMA Employment, means that graduates will be well-supported and well-placed when it comes to finding relevant employment.
Bernadette says the main quality that will make students stand out in the industry is a positive attitude.
“Happiness is what I am after. If you’ve got a happy outlook on life then that is the only prerequisite as far as I’m concerned. The rest I can teach you.
“If you want a challenging career, where every day is different, then becoming a CSR is where it’s at. It is very policies and procedures driven, so if you are a process person, like me, you’ll love it. And if you are target-orientated and enjoy the thrill of the chase, you’ll really love it!”
Contact centres offer flexible working hours. Most centres are open 24/7, which means there are lots of opportunities not just for 9 to 5 shifts, but also graveyard and weekend work.
The money is pretty good too.
This is the kind of job where you can easily support a family. Entry level for a brand new CSR is around $35000, and from there you can move through the ranks reasonably quickly.
And for those who have already moved through the ranks, NZMA has launched a Level 4 contact centre programme, specifically aimed at employees currently working as team leaders (or training towards the role).
The 20-week National Certificate in Contact Centres (Team Leader) Level 4; National Certificate in Business (First Line Management) Level 4 is currently available at NZMA Auckland South. It teaches the supervisory skills and specialised statistical and technological skills expected of team leaders in the industry.
Employers see this qualification as the first step on the contact centre management pathway.