Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What it takes to be a call center agent?

photo credit:
"Many are called, but few are chosen." 

Most Christians are familiar of that verse in the Bible but those working in contact centers or in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies could relate more than the traditional Christians.

In the Philippines, the contact center (call center) is one of the industries that stabilize the economy of the country. In fact, it's next to the overseas employment which bring bucks to the Philippine economy through the remittances of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Money and benefit-wise, working in a call center is the next best thing to being an OFW. However, getting into the industry is not that easy and sustaining the tension after you get hired is much more difficult if you do not possess the right attitude. 

Everyday, hundreds of people undergo job interviews to get into the industry but at the end of the day, only very few of them end up being hired. According my site director on his short speech during our graduation day for the Product Specifics Training (PST), only three to five percent of the applicants get hired and only one to two percent get into the account where I am right now (something that I could really brag about because I am one of the 3 % and nevertheless 1%... hahaha!). Not only that. After more than a month of handling calls on a training atmosphere, roughly only sixty percent of us were endorsed to the production where everyone is being observed for three months before regularization. And yes, everyone is expected to deliver the highest possible satisfaction to our clients and to their customers. 

Now what does it take to become a call center agent? Well, just in case you would like to join the industry and enjoy the benefits that people in the clan are enjoying, here are some of the things that you might expect and get through.

1. Expect for the highest possible kind of intimidation. However, always believe that we'll not get intimidated without our consent. Let's turn intimidation into something that would help build or attitude and character. They'll help in the long run. I realized they're not meant to intimidate anyone but build anyone through constant challenge.

2. Of course, there will be English Only Policy (EOP). It is stressful if you are not used to it but remember that there's no other way to improve our grasp of a second language but by constantly using it. Call center agents were being tagged before as Over Acting Animals (OAA) by their insecure counterparts because of the EOP but according to my Communication and Culture Trainer, language has never been and will never be OA(A) as it is neutral. However, people can be. It's never been bad to speak the language which enables you to earn higher than what others are earning.

3. You'll be in a DOG EAT DOG SOCIETY. The pace of the job is really fast. By the time you sit and take calls expect that work would be uninterrupted within your eight-hour shift. You're so lucky to get ten minutes avail time. However, it keeps your work attitude healthy as you will never have time to gossip with your workmates. 

4. Diversity will be the best policy. People in the industry are so diverse. There are those who are so professional, not so professional and not professional at all and you need to get into each level in order to succeed. On the other hand, everything has never been personal as you are all there for work. After all, there are rest days and off schedules. But if possible, try to get along with your team mates as diversity makes this world go round and so your head!

5. There are rumors and they are all true. You'll be cooked inside a pressure cooker until you get soft. The company will give you their expectations which are really high and your customers whom you are in direct contact with would expect higher from you because to them, you are the company you are talking about. Can you imagine it? They're all there and that's part of the job. You can never get rid of those metrics but you can control them. With the right attitude, beat all of them. In the end, expect a higher pay. Challenge those people and you will surely get what you want -- even the ones you never signed for -- a day in a five star hotel, a trip to a foreign land or to the beauty spots of the locality, a movie or food treat or even both, an appliance or gadget you ever wanted, a party and, of course, cash!

6. You'll learn to do a couple of things at the same time. Multitasking is a specialty for most of the call center agents. One needs to listen (attentively), document (correctly), speak (clearly) and read and understand (accurately). None of those things  should be missed!

7. Patience will always be a virtue. Imagine irate callers coming in and yelling about their dissatisfaction. Sometimes, they will shout at you or even curse you. However, none of them is personal as each and every person calling do not personally know you and if there's any reason for their anger, that should not be you. One of the good things I learned from such is the value of patience. I thought my former students stretched my patience to the farthest end already but my customers lengthened it to eternity. It's a matter of focusing on the problem rather than the person as the problem is the root cause for such negative behavior.

Convergys Services Philippines is one of the leading call centers
in the country serving most of the top companies in the United
States including financial firms, telecommunication companies,
network providers, etc. This picture is one of Convergys' sites
located in i3 Building, Cebu IT Park, Cebu City.
(photo credit:
Once you get in, you're never assured that you'll be retained as the industry has a very strict compliance to the standards set by their clients. In return, they set high expectation among their employees to make sure that they will deliver what they have promised to their clients or even go beyond. However, every mistake is valuable in the learning process so be positive in taking feedback and  learn from every speck of coaching session from your mentors. It's all about maintaining a humble and grateful heart and a happy spirit!

I know all these things are easier said than done. However, they could all be cultivated with constant practice. Now if you think you have the right attitude and skill and has always been wanting to join the BPO industry, join the country's leading industry.  Cultivate that skill and attitude which would enable you to land a slot in one of the Philippines' highest paying industry. Join us! I'll be more than willing to assist you through our Employee Referral Program (ERP). Just ping me HERE.  

1 comment:

Mable Holm said...

I see how hard to be a call center those tips are very helpful to everybody who want to be a call center,thanks for sharing it to us.