I was so extremely shock with the extreme dynamic of the new environment on my new career. It’s not what I expected and it’s not what I wanted. We always want to stay the way we always wanted to be. Sometimes going out of our comfort zone is frightening.However, going out of our comfort zone would help us utilize more or make use of our potential talents we might have, that has not been used.
When I was young, I have the desire to work dealing with foreign nationals, whatever job it would be. Luckily , I was able to work in a hotel in the Sales and Reservation and Front Desk where I deal with foreign guests that stays in the hotel. I was a hotelier for more than 14 years with variety of positions. I went from Front Desk, Sales and Reservation, Telephone Operator, Night Auditor till I lastly went to stay for 11 years as Billing supervisor. I enjoyed my work and enjoyed with the people I worked with. I had fun working at the hotel. I spent one third of my life in that same place I used to go and fro everyday. I always reminisce the time I had whenever I pass by the old place which greatly changed after couple of years.
After I had my last year in the hotel, I looked up to what comes next to me. Call center industry was a noisy thing and was a ‘Boom’. I had heard of it from my internet friends from India in 2002. I was wondering what is this call center all about. I tried to apply at West-my first application in 2003, but did not push through. I don’t know what I’m applying for because it says “Technical Support”.I don’t have any idea about that thing. It seems like I’ll be repairing something which I have no clue. I asked some information from people who has idea about call center .
I went to enroll at TESDA for a call center training in 2007 after a couple of months I resigned from my hotel job. It’s good that I was able to get some good amount of money from the hotel I worked for or I can not go through all these, for lack of finances. After my training, I tried applying to call centers. Finally after 5th days of looking for a job at a call center, I was able to get it.
My first account was a US Telecommunication account. I had a very hard time to adjust to the changing schedule which affected my health. I’m freaking out on my first month. It’s totally new to me, I’m lost and cannot understand very well the subject specially when I received the first call. My first call was a Supervisory Call-it’s wherein a customer would asks for a Supervisor because I’m not able to help the customer. Later, after many months, I was able to connect with the industry, but it’s not enough to fully equipped me to get acquainted to the call center industry. I went from one call center to another and experienced different kinds of account. Currently, I’m still in a call center job and I never imagined that I would am now on my 9th year in the call center job.
Call center job is very dynamic in many sense. The changes comes with the changing technology and products update and newinventions or new technologies that is applicable or that caters to a certain product that it serves. It also comes in the shifting schedules that changes every now and then and you have to adapt to it. It also comes to changing teams or group or accounts. Accounts is a certain product that a call center serves-ex. telecommunication industry such as Globe, Smart customer service and or billing and or sales. Therefore, instead of the company holds these people and pay them salaries, they put this certain department in a call center to serve their company.
In a call center you are graded for your performance based on what is called Metrics. These metrics are :AHT-average handling time, Quality Assurance- how you handle calls based on the standard procedures and protocols, Adherence to schedule such as break and lunch, Attendance and Tardiness, CSAT-customers satisfaction and the last Complaints. All of these composed your scores and the basis for your increase. Compared to a normal corporate business where in people work in laxity, but has to work hard to perfect the craft. Also, working in a normal corporate business, you have to do other functions in your own department and you deal with a lot of things pertaining to your department. In a call center , the work becomes a routine and what is needed is how to work around on every situation on a particular account.
Somebody has discovered the gap between the customer and the company. Call center was found out to be the answer to this gap. Call center is called a call center because it is being paid for every call. Big companies with thousands of customers would be needing numbers of employees because they will be receiving number of calls on a daily basis. Therefore, call center is the answer.There is also a call center that is called “back office” on which everything is paperwork which normally are the payroll system or billing of a company. It seems almost every big company put their business in a call center industry now.
Call center is paid per call business . The company and the contact center or call center will have an agreement of what we called the Service Level wherein a certain range of Service Level must be attain on a regular basis to continue the service. Service Level is the number of calls received by the contact center. Since call center is paid per call, AHT is very important . This is the backbone of the business, and so it’s the number 1 metric. A certain account would have a targeted AHT. Most call center business would give a rewards for meeting METRICS.
Customer Service is the main “goal function” of almost all call centers. Giving a satisfactory service to the customer, most of the time would require longer conversation to allow the agent to provide correct total information to the customer to resolve his, her problem. However, due to AHT driven agents, the call will be shortened to meet the AHT metrics. Most of the time the agents would give a positive statements that would convince the customer that his, her issue has been resolved, when it was not. This happens most of the time. Some agents to meet the target AHT would release calls which is of course, taboo to a call center business. This is tantamount to termination.
Another problem is the Quality Assurance of the call. Quality Assurance is a gauge used to make sure that the agents are following standard procedures and protocol Since training is very short and does not cover the whole areas of the account, most of the time,the agents would provide incorrect information to the customer. This normally happens for new hire, however as you go along with the course of your work in a particular account, you will be adept to it. Sometimes, there are updates and if agents on a particular account were not informed , it will be the result of wrong information, too that would upset the caller and would cause Sup Calls.
There are some accounts that provides time for the whole team to read updates. Others are provided updates through email only. So, reading the email is very important to take note of important things going in an account.
Adherence may sound easier , however sometimes you cannot hit the goal of perfection or a 100% for Schedule Adherence. Some calls that takes longer that it covers your supposed time for breaks . You will never know when call is coming in and you are about in time for a break.
Absences is a big problem, too in a call center. Perhaps due to stressful job specially “hard”accounts -because your information is limited , your sources is limited and you are not aware of the whole process. Receiving too many calls in day would stress you up and the result of this is absences. It takes toll on health of an agent if your coping with too many stressful calls in a stressful accounts.
Language barrier is one problem why there are many Sup Calls-is when a customer would asked for a Supervisor because it’s either the customer did not understand the agent or the customer does not want to talk to the agent for some other reasons. You have to speak their language to be able to understand by the customer. Sometimes you will adapt their intonations when you are already years in the account.
Unlike in a normal corporate world, you can work and manage your own time and can request for a Vacation Leave any time or absent whenever you feel not good to come to work. In a call center it’s hard to request for a Vacation Leave specially if the account is only 1 team. Being absent for sickness or illness sometimes is discourage, or you will receive a Written Notice if you don’t have any doctor’s prescription even for just a day SL only. Even on important matters to attend a Vacation Leave is hard to get approval from higher authority. You will be tagged as Absence Without Leave or AWOL if you do absences without approval.
Many agents in a call center belongs to the LGBT group since they are welcome to wear dress he or she likes, unlike in a normal corporate world , you will have to wear appropriate dress for the gender. Call centers is also a center for many smokers. They say smoking breaks you from stress which I don’t believe. I wish I’m younger so I can still work in a hotel industry which is still a growing industry in our country. To alleviate my sour grape feeling, I can still deal with foreign nationals in this kind of business, though:).