Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as ¿building blocks¿ because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Telephone operators operate computerized or conventional telephone systems to advance and assist the completion of telephone calls. Telephone service operators assist, monitor and train telephone operators in the performance of their duties. They are employed by telephone companies.
- May have a conference call disconnect in mid-conference. They establish new routings to reconnect the call. (1)
- May be asked to find a phone number when only part of a name or an incomplete address is provided. They try alternative spellings of the name and narrow the task as much as possible using the search features of the computer system. (2)
- May have difficulty communicating with foreign operators because of language or cultural differences. They persevere, calling upon another operator for assistance if necessary. (2)
- May find that an excited person in distress called 411, directory assistance, instead of 911, the emergency number. They decide quickly which agency should receive the emergency call and put it through. (2)
- May put a call through to a suicide line, only to find a recorded message. They keep the distraught person on the line until they can establish an alternative service, such as the Salvation Army or a family member. (3)
- Decide when it is appropriate to terminate an abusive call. (1)
- Decide on the most effective routings for calls. (2)
- Decide, in exceptional circumstances, whether to charge a call from a pay phone to a number which is not the caller's. (2)
- Decide whether adjustments to charges are justified when customers claim to have difficulties calling from pay phones. (2)
Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.
Job Task Planning and Organizing
The pace of telephone operators' work is determined by the volume of incoming calls. Operators respond to calls consecutively, with little or no planning required to perform their tasks. (1)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember frequently-called phone numbers such as the hospital.
- Remember details from an emergency call several weeks later in order to provide information to authorities or health-care professionals.
- Memorize routing codes for long-distance connections.
- Remember procedures for multiport calls.
- Refer to cardex listings of conference call operators in other cities. (1)
- Find information about policies, procedures or rates by searching a database. (2)
- Call industry representatives to find out if they have heard of a business which is not listed in the directory or whether it exists under another name. They may do this if the person calling for directory assistance is agitated or insistent. (2)
- Poll other operators and supervisors for advice in finding an elusive phone number. (2)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Telephone operators work independently, answering calls automatically routed to their positions by computer. Occasionally, they route calls to co-workers or supervisors but generally, they handle calls autonomously. Since several operators are working at the same time, they co-ordinate their workday so that they can provide relief to co-workers for short periods of time.
Telephone operators update their skills through attending in-house training seminars which focus on new procedures and practices, technology, billing systems and use of e-mail. They may take courses to improve their second or other language skills. Lead operators are encouraged to take first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) courses. Courses are also available for operators who wish to assume supervisory roles in the future.