Operator Duties & Responsibilities

By Lee Morgan; Updated July 05, 2017
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An operator works on the telephone, either for a phone company or for a business with a high call volume. While some of these jobs are being eliminated because companies are implementing automated operators, according to Communication Workers of America, there's still a need for operator positions in various businesses because of their important duties and responsibilities concerning customer and staff communications.

Directory Assistance

When you're unable to locate a phone number online or in the phone book, a call to directory assistance will put you in contact with an operator who can help you find the information you require. Directory assistance is handled mostly by an automated system, but there are operators who stand by when the system is unable to help. These operators take calls from the public, look up contact information in a database and relay the information to the caller.

Collect Calling

Collect calling is still available. Circumstances may sometimes leave you without access to a cell phone and no change for a pay phone, so calling collect may become a necessity. Operators working for various phone companies take calls from individuals who wish to place a collect call. The operator will ask for the caller’s name and then dial the number for the caller, asking the recipient of the call if she will accept the charges. Assuming she'll accept, the operator connects the call and leaves the two parties to have their conversation.

Tolls And Billing

Phone company operators may get calls to answer questions about the cost of making certain calls or about billing issues. These operators must be able to quickly access the necessary information to answer billing questions, explain charges, and take care of any concerns or disputes as best they can while attempting to maintain a positive image for their company.

Run Switchboards

Many companies receive a high volume of calls, and it may not be feasible for the staff to take these calls as they come in. Instead, one or more operators work the switchboard for the main number, asking how they can help and then directing the call to the proper personnel on the inside. This work requires the ability to talk clearly and quickly and route calls to appropriate extensions to minimize the amount of time the caller has to wait. The operator working the switchboard must learn some information about the roles that particular people have at the company so he knows the appropriate person to route the call to.

Customer Service Calls

Operators often perform customer service duties, whether they work for the phone company or for another business. There are always consumers who aren't happy about certain goods or services, and they'll want to vent to someone. It's the operator’s job in some instances to double as a customer service representative. The customer service representative who serves as an operator must have the ability to remain even-tempered and calm throughout the conversation and try to accommodate the customer if possible.

About the Author

Lee Morgan is a fiction writer and journalist. His writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.