In general, most call center techs respond with a good attitude to duties that are unrelated to serving customers by phone. That’s the message we got from the 224 members who recently took our call center survey, which was prompted in part by Jeff Davis’ column about a help desk manager who was having trouble getting his staff to do anything except “rest” between calls.

We wanted to find out more about call center techs’ work, both on and off the phones, and their attitude toward completing special projects. Here’s what we found out.

How are call center techs spending their time?
According to the survey, 35.3 percent of respondents said their call center techs spent an average of three to four hours per day actually on the phone. Another 33 percent said the average was five or six hours. Figure A illustrates the results.

Figure A

So what are the techs most likely doing when they’re not actively serving customers on the phone? According to 45.5 percent of respondents, they’re attending to scheduled non-phone work assigned by their supervisor (see Figure B). The next greatest percentage said the techs were most likely surfing the Web for pleasure or checking personal e-mail, followed closely by “Researching or training themselves on some new technology.”

Figure B

But unlike you might think, the help desk pros don’t seem to mind working on other projects, according to our survey data. When asked how most help desk techs respond to assigned duties that are unrelated to serving customers via phone, an overwhelming majority of respondents answered, “With a good attitude,” as illustrated in Figure C.

Figure C

About the call center tech’s career
For all their work on and off the phone, 36.1 percent of our respondents said call center agents make more than $15 hourly, with 21 percent reporting their earnings between $11 and $13 hourly (see Figure D).

Figure D

But when call center staff leave their jobs, it’s most likely not a compensation issue, according to our survey. The largest percentage, 42.4, said the most often cited reason for call center agents leaving their jobs is “Better opportunities outside the organization.” Nearly 30 percent said the most common reason was better opportunities inside the organization, as illustrated in Figure E.

Figure E

Just how long do the techs hang in there? According to our survey, most call center techs call it quits after one to three years on the job. Only 5.4 percent reported that their average help desk tech lifespan was less than six months. Figure F shows the breakout of average tour of duty for the agents.

Figure F