Friday, July 26, 2013

In search of the Perfect Call Center


I came home after two years working abroad. I was the typical OFW. Tired, thankful to be home and loaded with cash.

Or so I thought. After a few months, my savings were at a critical level. My children are growing. One in college, two in high school. It is no joke to be a solo parent responsible to raise 3 kids. 

One lazy afternoon my sister went into my room and asked me, "Are you just going to bum around for the rest of your life?" I replied, "I still have money. I just want to relax."

My sister was working as an assistant bank manager where I deposited the money I earned from working abroad. She was always the "life planning" guru of the family. Forever forecasting future financial events. In a stern voice she said, "Your money is not going to get you through one year of bumming around. I think you should pick yourself up and find a job." I said, "Alright, alright. Tomorrow. Let me sleep, okay?"

That night, I was up thinking of what to do. I understood what my sister said. I did have to find work AGAIN. I could not go back to my usual job in the government. I resigned my post. The plantilla item that I used to hold has been assigned to someone else. No regrets. It doesn't pay much anyway. I got out of bed and prepared a resume. 

Over breakfast the following morning, my sister said that there was a call center near the bank where she works. She suggested that I go there. What the heck did I know about working in a call center? I was an undergraduate Medical student. I did have a good command of the English language but what use would a Medical student be in a call center? Oh well.. it wouldn't hurt to try. 

And so I went. I took the exams, went through a series of interviews. I was asked to return at 1am for the job offer. Hmmm... nice. The pay was almost twice of what I was earning in the goverment. Without hesitation, I signed the contract. 

NCO Sprint Outbound Sales Wave 1
May 2006. My very first call center was NCO. I was an outbound telesales agent for a pioneer account. What did I know about selling? Nothing. But I did learn. The culture was fun. The commute to work was even better. No traffic at all. I made good friends, most were also "call center virgins" like me. I guess we were successful because the company hired more and more people and the account grew. I enjoyed this new job, I enjoyed the pay even better. 

In the Quality Hub
A few months later, I got promoted to Quality Coach. Nice. No more scheduled breaks. Haha. Monitoring calls for adherence to policies was the perfect job for me. I loved the coaching sessions. I had this drive to make the agents move up the ranks too. I made them realize that in order for them to do that, they should first show compliance to the metrics set by the account. 

I was doing this for a few years and I was now ready for a new position. I applied for the post of Team Manager. I had the right qualifications. I had the level of confidence. I had the determination to take the next step forward. However, as in all organizations, there is always this someone who was born with overflowing envy. She did everything behind my back to disqualify me for the post. When I learned about this, I was so upset that I submitted a resignation. I never reported for work the following day. I did not deserve this. So many years of hard work, only to be maligned by one person. 

In the Shared Services Room (VQA cave)
2010. StarTek Ltd. handed me a job offer for Virtual Quality Assurance Specialist. My career went from good to great. I loved the salary rate. I liked the new post. No agent contact. We were providing support to on shore sites - Mansfield OH, Decatur IL, Jonesboro AR, Cornwall Canada. I found out that two of my former workmates in NCO were also there. Sweet! 

VQA Team for Consumer Services
But then, after another few years, I felt that this was not the center for me. Their indifference to employees' plight was too much for me. We were shuffled around between two sites - Makati and Ortigas. We were "not allowed" to get sick because it was tagged as "unplanned" absence. I wish I learned how to "plan" sickness. In addition to that, the management put a "ceiling cap" on salary appraisals. Once you get to the upper limit of your salary bracket, you are no longer qualified for appraisals, even if you are consistently hitting your goals and getting "5" ratings every time. I could not be doing the same thing over and over again for years and years and not getting any appraisals. Not with the rising cost of education, food, and basic necessities. I opted out. 

I bummed around for 4 months, in search for the "perfect" call center.

And then comes GL Advisor. I got the post of Lender Relations Liaison. Definitely not a call center. This was back office financial support for professionals with Federal Student Loans. The salary offer was unbelievable! My bi-monthly rate was equivalent to a whole month salary when I was working as an outbound sales rep! Even if I knew I was not very good in Math, I took the job. I won't be doing the financial planning anyway. My task was to pinpoint the customer's private loans and submit them for consolidation into the Federal Loan system. 

We were housed in the newest high rise in Makati Business District. Way up the 22nd floor. Floor to ceiling glass windows, mobile laptops, secure environment, a guaranteed fat wallet once every two weeks. Nice, nice, nice.

Reality bites. Management sucks. No set rules. Organizational planning was as stinky as a septic tank. We found out that the company was not even registered as an entity licensed to operate business. We have been paying the mandatory government deductions, only to find out that it was going nowhere. And then the owners of the company sent out "feelers" that we have completed all the backlogs in their head office in Waltham, MA. It seemed evident that they would be releasing some of the employees. They started out with increasing the daily work quota. Those that were not able to comply were given "release" papers the following day. What asses. Me and my friends started applying to different companies. Better to leave than to be "released." I left the company on the first day of January, 2013. The last I heard was that the company released more than 30 employees and then moved down to the "cheaper" floors of the building. Good thing my friends were able to get out and find other jobs before the mass lay off.

I got a job at Transcom as a Quality Assurance Representative. Didn't like it a bit. I stayed there for two months and left. 

Group Lunch at the Pantry
Fast forward to Concentrix Eastwood. I have been here for almost 5 months and so far, I am loving it. My job is still with Quality Assurance. I handle on-shore sites, just like what I did with StarTek. These people I work with now are so cool. So down to earth, unassuming, real folks. Everyday is "pigging out" day. We all love eating, and no one cares how "fluffy" you are. There are many activities that make you relax and eating out. (Eating again! haha). There are no "level up" boundaries, no titles, nothing. Everyone goes for first name basis, regardless of the fact that you are speaking with the General Manager. 
Team Breakfast at Somethin' Fishy

The pay is what I would call "average." I guess it is fair enough, because in this company, they compensate you for your hard work. There are financial rewards for achieving certain metrics. In the many years of working in the BPO industry, I have found out that happiness is not having much much money. It is in being in an environment where you can feel "at home away from home." It is in having fun while working. It is in feeling your worth as a member of the support team. 

Would this be the place I would share my talents with until retirement? I hope so.
One happy work family

I know of one truth though. The Perfect Call Center is a myth.

It is finding a Call Center and making everything perfect.


Sharing a video I made for my NCO Sprint Quality Team circa 2009


  1. hi there sisterette! many will benefit from the experiences you shared here! in another life, I think I would love to become a call center agent too! :) and yes indeed, there is no perfect place of work...only great, hardworking people like you :)

  2. here's a salute to one tough and responsible mommy like you! i was sent here by my twinsoul "kulasa" and i think i have to thank her because you inspired me with your stories. keep on writing and inspiring! nice to meet you in the blogosphere. ;)

  3. hi there twinzy!!! glad you found your way here....sisterette hope to see you in full swing in blogosphere...feel free to visit the blogs of the awesome friends you will find commenting on our blogs yah! and yes like what twinzy Cherry said, do keep on writing and sharing your have the gift :)

  4. Even in work you are free spirited. It is true that not all the money in the word can equate the happiness you feel in finding a home where you work.


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