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What does an Order Taker do?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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There are different types of order takers for different industries in business. This person generally interacts with customers in person or over the phone, accepting their requests for various goods or services, and entering these requests into a computer system. The job is generally considered to be a customer service position, and virtually anyone who wants to can succeed at this job, regardless of education beyond high school.

An order taker may work for any business where customers call in to place orders rather than going into a physical store to shop. He or she will likely need to wear a headset with earpieces and a microphone for the duration of his shift, and to sit at a desk working on a computer. When a customer calls, the employee will need to be pleasant and polite, as well as to answer any questions the potential customer may have about their purchase.

The person will then need to enter the customer's selections into the system, as well as to collect additional information such as name, address, phone number, and payment information. He or she might be able to give the customer a shipping or delivery estimate, or offer other options to ensure that the item arrives faster. Some order takers have monthly sales quotas they need to meet, so they might be encouraged to "up-sell" items to customers in order to get them to purchase more of an item or a more expensive item.

Order takers may also work in the hospitality industry. A reservations agent, for example, assists potential guests in making reservations for a desired room or rooms for a chosen length of time. A person who works for hotel room service is another type, and this person may work for the kitchen or front desk, and answer the phone when guests call to order food.

People who do this job may also be responsible for resolving problems when customers or guests call. For instance, if a customer orders a particular item and then decides to return it, the order taker may need to help him or her to ensure that the customer's account is properly credited for the return. Anyone who wants to do this particular job should enjoy working with people and possess the ability to remain calm. The position might not have regular hours, because some call centers are open 24 hours per day for the convenience of the customer; however, some may also be able to earn extra commission from meeting or exceeding sales goals.

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Discussion Comments

By John57 — On Nov 23, 2012

@OeKc05 -- What would we do without order takers at restaurants? I eat out at least a couple times a week and know many of the workers at my favorite restaurants by name. They also know me and what my favorite dishes, are so they seldom write the order down.

I have seen other order takers who never write anything down, whether they know the person or not. I don't know how they can remember everything. Sometimes they do have to go back to the table to clarify something.

I think it would be too easy to forget who ordered what without writing it down. If they bring the wrong thing, the restaurant has to cover that mistake, so if I was the owner, I would want to make sure they wrote the orders down.

By Mykol — On Nov 22, 2012
One thing I don't like about talking with someone over the phone when I place an order is if they try to "up-sell" me something. I realize they are just doing their job, and might have to meet some kind of quota, but this aggravates me.

I am not rude about it, but politely tell them I am not interested. Come to think of it, I don't think I have ever bought something someone has tried to sell me this way.

I am sure it works for a lot of people though. Some people have a really hard time telling someone 'no' whether they are talking to them on the phone or in person.

By sunshined — On Nov 22, 2012
I prefer to use the internet when I want to order something. The only time I need to speak with someone is if there is a problem with the order. Most of the time these issues are resolved through email instead of over the phone as well.

I would guess many companies who used to hire several order takers no longer have as many positions for this job. They would still need some customer service workers, but so many people are used to ordering things online without ever talking to a real person.

By julies — On Nov 21, 2012

@shell4life -- My mom is the same way when it comes to ordering something she sees in a catalog. This is the only way she feels comfortable placing an order like this. My dad uses the computer all the time, but she doesn't want to learn how to use it. Once in awhile she will ask him to order something for her online, but most of the time she likes to call in and speak to someone on the other end of the phone who will take her order.

By OeKc05 — On May 13, 2012

I always think of workers at restaurants when I think of order takers. Many restaurants have people who answer the phone and write down your takeout order.

This is so convenient for me, because it saves me a lot of time on my lunch break. If I were to go to my favorite restaurant and wait to be served by a waitress, it would probably take at least twenty minutes to get my food. So, if I call an order taker twenty minutes before I plan to be there to pick up my food, it will be ready to go when I arrive.

I generally call in food orders about two or three times a week. I am so glad that my favorite restaurants have order takers.

By shell4life — On May 12, 2012

The majority of people tend to order items online now without ever having to speak to an order taker. My mother is one exception.

She will only order an item from a catalog or from a television ad if she can speak to an actual order taker. She hates recordings, and she doesn't even know how to use a computer.

She used to work as an order taker for a clothing company, so she wants to use their services as often as she needs to place an order. She doesn't want the order taker profession to become unnecessary, and she says she will not contribute their downfall by using the internet.

By cloudel — On May 11, 2012

@StarJo – I know what you mean. Order takers are generally happier when they are treated well. However, they sometimes can go out of their way to serve customers out of desperation.

After the oil spill of 2010, thousands of people canceled their reservations at hotels all along the Gulf coast. Since it happened in the spring, people were trying to cancel their summer vacation reservations, because they knew that the mess would not be cleaned up entirely by then.

I felt really bad for doing it, but I did cancel my reservation at a hotel in Alabama. The poor order taker must have dreaded hearing the phone every time it rung, because he must have anticipated that it would be another cancellation.

He answered the phone by stating the name of the hotel and following with, “It's a great day at the beach.” When he found out I was calling to cancel, he offered me a deep discount that I normally would have jumped at. He tried everything to keep my business, but I simply could not risk ruining my vacation by going to an oily beach.

By StarJo — On May 11, 2012

I have dealt with order takers at hotels before, and they have always been cordial. Considering that the nightly rates for these hotels were over $150, the order takers are probably well-paid and happy with their jobs, which goes a long way.

Generally, people who are well-paid feel more appreciated. They are therefore more willing to commit themselves to being pleasant to the customers and doing a really good job. If raise or bonus incentives are involved, then they may be even more helpful to customers.

It's always nice to speak to a happy person on the phone who is willing to help you with whatever questions or requests you may have. The attitude of certain order takers motivates me to stay in certain hotels over and over again.

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