January 31, 2013

So You Want To Work In A Call Center?

sad smiley

I hate it when people think that working in a call center is easy. They have the impression that you only need to speak in English and you'll survive working in the industry. Well, applying for the job is easy. Staying in the job is the hard part. You can always be terminated anytime for simple reasons.

Let me review some of the things that makes working in a call center a pain in the butt.

  1. Not all call centers regularized their agents on the 6th month – In Alorica Philippines, I worked for 8 months (in 2007) and I was never regularized nor given an increase. I heard other call centers with similar policies. They simply don't regularized their agents!

  2. The job is co-terminus with the account – You can find this line in almost all contracts in the BPO industry. When an account close or get transferred to another site or vendor, you'll most probably be put in a floating status. You don't get paid because you're not working. If you're lucky, the BPO company would find an alternate account for you the soonest time. This happened to me in Alorica Philippines and Sufferland.

  3. No cellphone on the production floor – This is common even in non-financial accounts. I envy government employees when it comes to cellphone use. This is only applicable to agents. If you caught using a cellphone in the production floor, it would automatically merit an Incident Report (IR) or Notice To Explain (NTE).

  4. No sleeping in the production floor – This is what I envy the most from security guards. This is also applicable to agents only. If you are caught with your eyes closed, specially from the TL of the other team, or from the Operations Manager (OM), you'll get an IR or NTE. In worst case scenario, they'll ask you to log-out after you call and go home. Next day, you'll talk to the Human Resources (HR) instead of your customer.

  5. Everything is timed – I envy the company drivers when it comes to using company time. They can always say that they're stuck in traffic. Whereas for a call center agent, even the minutes that you spend peeing is timed. In Transcom Asia, they don't have bladder breaks. They'll deduct it from your breaks which is only 30 minutes (two 15-minute breaks). QA on the other hand, is very strict with hold time. It's an auto-zero in QA (Transcom Asia). Dead air is also timed. A dead air (customer and agent are both silent) of more than 10 seconds is auto-zero (auto-fail) in QA, at least in Transcom Asia.

  6. The customer is ALWAYS right – It's the universal motto in the call center industry. It's true even in Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys. There is no way to dispute a rating by the customer even if it's ridiculous. In AT&T Convergys for example, everyone who handled the same case of an irate customer would all have the same CSAT. If the customer rated the on-site technician of 0%, all the call center agents who handled the same ticket would get the same rating. Even if the customer clearly stated in the survey that it's the on-site technician that he's complaining about. An escalation from customer would sometimes end up in an agent's suspension for N days. N being a number between 5 and 15.

  7. There is no excuse for being late – Specially during trainings (first few months from hired date). I envy the public school teachers on this. A call center agent incurs infraction for every instance of late. Even for 1 minute. In Transcom Asia for example, it's point system. An agent is only allowed up to 6 points before he gets an NTE for excessive lates. One late equals 0.75 point. So it would only take 8 lates before an agent writes his explanation to an NTE. There are numerous agents that were terminated because of excessive lates.

  8. There is no such thing as Union – A call center agent cannot join a union. I never heard of such thing as Employees Union in any call center. I'm certain that there is no union in Alorica Philippines, Sykes Asia, Convergys, Teleperformance, Sufferland and Transcom Asia. Do you know any call center that has a union?

  9. EOP all the time – I envy the Filipino subject teachers on this. It's English Only Policy (EOP) and not English Or Pilipino specially in the production floor. An NTE or IR is usually served to an agent who violates this policy specially if it's the client or country manager who caught an agent. However, the implementation of the sanction varies from center to center and from TL to TL. In Transcom Asia, it's very strict when it comes to EOP.

  10. Paperless environment – Similar to EOP policy, the paperless environment thing varies from center to center and also depends on the account. This is usually strictly followed in financial and credit card accounts. In Sykes Asia on the other hand, we are allowed to bring books and magazines in the production floor since our account is DSL. In all other call centers that I worked for, it's always a paperless environment, except for NTE and IR. Those are some of the things that can be printed on paper.

  11. No food allowed in the workstation – Applicable in most call centers. There are some call centers that allows snacks to be sneaked in at the production floor as long as you're not using spoon and fork to eat these foods or as they say, it's bite-size.

  12. No permanent workstation – I envy the people working at the HR, Payroll or Finance who always have a permanent station which they can personalize. The most tolerable call center that I worked for when it comes to workstation is Sykes Asia. They at least allowed us to personalized our workstation and to have a permanent team bay. The worst is AT&T Convergys. You'll go out for lunch and your station would be given to other agents.

    These are some of the things that I hate about working in a call center. I'll post my reasons #13 to 21 tomorrow. Until then, take care!

1 comment:

  1. Dear writer,
    If you were the owner of a business, would you like to see your workers sleeping on the job?
    How would you feel if you walk in a store and find the sales people sleeping?
    Every Outsourcer/Vendor is billed by their Clients through the productive hours the Outsourcer renders. If the productive hours are not met then the client would not be paying the outsourcer and the purpose of setting up a business which give an opportunity to people to find employment and a source of income is futile. Thus, timed breaks are necessary.
    Filipinos are not born natural English speakers. In order for one to be successful in this industry, one has to at least be comfortable in the English language. After all, agents do not speak to Filipinos on the phone all the time, right?
    Lastly, this is a JOB; meaning a decent amount of professionalism is required. If you would rather work in an industry where laziness is glorified, then i'm afraid this industry is not for you. But if you want to work in an industry that affords you to sip on your mocha fraps, post on instagram with your high end phone, pay your bills and allows you to have a salary more than the average Pinoy, then you may want to think oherwise.