Generalist vs. specialist: Which call center area does each of them excel?

Julie Pearl Published on June 4, 2014

Before outsourcing call center solutions to the Philippines, one of the things you must determine is the type of agents you need to hire. Open Access BPO will help you decide if your call center team should be composed of generalists or specialists.

Call center agents are classified into two main categories: the generalists and the specialists. We’ve previously made a quick overview of the two types to determine which of them best fits a multilingual tech support team. Now, we’ll explore other areas of call center work that a generalist or a specialist can do best.

Where generalists excel

call center leader customer service team

Generalists are call center agents who can do many kinds of tasks and assist more types of customers because they could fill the duties of a tech support agent, customer service representative, and even telemarketer.

For having broad call center knowledge, generalists are efficient in scheduling. They can handle nearly all kinds of calls, so the management benefits from their capability to lower call transfers and improve first call resolution (FCR) rates.

Since they’re able to solve a wide range of problems, they no longer have to escalate a call that is supposedly handled by a specific team. For example, they can elaborate how the user can fix a product while making a sales pitch on another item that could complement the product that the user already has. That’s tech support and sales work rolled into one.

Where specialists excel

customer service leader call center team

Specialists concentrate on one specific area, be it customer service, tech support, or sales. Since their abilities are solely focused on their specialization, they know the whole scope of their expertise more than any generalist. In fact, they’re the ones who handle complex cases that generalists escalate to them.

While generalists improve FCR, specialists can guarantee full issue resolution because of their deep knowledge of the area they handle. Call center management also benefits from them because they require less training and coaching.

The duty of specialists revolves around a smaller number of topics, so training costs and time spent on them are also minimal.

Who should you hire?

business executives in job interview with applicant

The answer depends entirely on your business’ needs and environment. Call centers with a wide array of services usually hire generalists, while those catering to customers with specific demands prefer specialists. Others embrace the two-tier setup wherein both generalists and specialists make up the workforce, but their tasks are divided according to gravity. Generalists are placed at the forefront to attend to callers with minor concerns, and specialists are on standby to receive heavier problems that generalists need help on.

Which among the three options could work for you? Properly assess the conditions and demands your customer to be able to choose the right staff and set up for your call center.

OABPO-Julie Author
As one of Open Access BPO's content writers, Julie Pearl shares her BPO knowledge through her blog posts, research papers, and other resources. She writes about outsourcing news and call center management tips and insights.
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