JOB OPPORTUNITIES at a call centre are growing by the day, and undoubtedly, communication skill is the key factor in the job. One of the main objectives of call centres is customer satisfaction.

A customer care executive should possess soft skills such as interpersonal skills, social grace, team spirit, business etiquette, negotiation skills, presentation skills and behavioural traits such as positive attitude, intrinsic motivation and time management.

He has to be patient with aggressive customers, and amicable to amiable customer. This calls for social competence that comprises compassion, empathy, active listening, and appreciation of diversity, adaptability and flexibility and people skills with leadership qualities. Customers expect the executive to be proactive, professional and greet first.

A call centre executive has to be trained in stress, rhythm and intonation to be intelligible to the native speakers of English and understand their speech.

He has to remember that unlike Indian languages, English is stress-timed. Depending on the use, the stress shifts from one syllable to another syllable in words such as conduct (noun) and conduct (verb).

Tips to improve speech

While watching the television look at the lip movement of the speakers

Repeat what they say, with the same intonation and rhythm

Listen to the `music' of English

Make a list of frequently used words difficult to pronounce

Record these words and practice

Pay special attention to `s' and `ed' endings

Record your own voice and listen for pronunciation mistakes

You can change the way you sound if you are willing to put some effort into it.

To sum up, an executive at a call centre should have the physical skill of working in different time zones, mental skills of quick grasping and phonetic skills to understand and to be understood

(The author is Professor of English, Directorate of Student Welfare, TNAU, Coimbatore)