Sunday, October 13, 2013

Call Centers 101

The Call Center industry in the Philippines has shown enormous growth in the past decade. Fresh graduates of any course are eligible to apply and have a high chance of eventually getting hired. There are some centers that are "equal opportunity employers," meaning they hire undergraduates or middle aged people as long as they have exemplary English communication skills coupled with a great personality. The job offer usually consists of an above average salary, performance based incentives, and comprehensive HMO benefits, making it very difficult for an entry level applicant to resist.

Before you submit your resume, there are some things you need to consider if you are thinking about building a career in the Call Center Industry. Here are some of the few:

First, you need to have really good written and spoken English communication skills. You have to make English your native language while in the workplace. The very first rule you would have to take to heart is "EOP," or English Only Policy. Speaking in the vernacular may get you into trouble.  

Second, you have to learn to work around the Circadian rhythm, meaning you have to learn to stay awake at night to take calls or respond to email. You will have to give up your late night parties and find some time to sleep in the mornings. Your reward: A night differential pay that ranges from 10-20% of your hourly rate.

You may want to take into consideration getting as much sleep as you can during the day, because the third requirement is that you have to have good health. Getting sick is not an option in this industry because an unplanned absence will hurt the business. In the same light, tardiness is not acceptable.

Me and my sarong at work
The fourth thing to consider is the ability to blend in with the culture, with employees' ages ranging from 18 or 19 to mid-50s. You learn to tolerate the rowdiness and happy go lucky attitude of the young ones, and have patience with the meticulousness of the older group.

Fifth, you have to learn to spend 9 hours of your day in freezing temperatures of centralized air conditioning, so invest in two or three good jackets to keep you warm. Kindly refer to the third requirement discussed above - you are not allowed to get sick. You can go see a doctor if ever you catch cold. However, it has been an outstanding joke in call centers that "if you are well enough to see a doctor, then you are well enough to go to work." Your reward: Monetization of your sick leave days at the end of the year.

Sixth, you have to understand that security measures have been put in place to protect sensitive customer information therefore cellphones are not allowed in the work place. Keep your smartphones in your lockers or deposit them with the guard on duty. Other centers allow Team Leads to collect the agents' cellphones for safekeeping. Inform your family and friends that you can only reply to their messages during your breaks. It is wise to give them the land line number of your office, in case an emergency comes up and that they need to speak with you ASAP.

The seventh thing to consider is you may be required to do overtime whenever the need arises, so it would be best to educate your family that you may miss certain school activities or family gatherings from time to time. Your reward: Recognition for your dedication to work and overtime pay

Vendo coffee at P10 per cup
Eighth factor to reckon with is that you will literally learn to love coffee. This brown liquid will eventually replace your blood, making it earn the title "The lifeline of call center workers." Your reward: Unbelievably alert at 2am.

Commuting to work at ungodly hours is the ninth thing call center workers have to deal with. You are lucky if you were given a shift corresponding to the opening of business hours in the US. However, there are "closer shifts" which start at 2am-3am. Taking a cab everyday will drain your finances, so taxis are not an everyday luxury. Take public transportation. Carefully map out your route, and take the well-lighted path if you need to walk. Keep in mind that you will be the target of robbers, so always have some kind of simple weapon (like a pen or a long umbrella) with you or enroll in a martial arts class. Your reward: You learn to be streetwise.

Lastly, succeeding in a call center environment is not an easy task as others perceive it to be, because there is a high demand for dedication, however, at the end of the day, you will still be earning more than an average employee will. Watch out for the brown nosers and their cohorts. These people initiate the ugly, ugly practice of office politics. If you can sway to their music, then good for you. Give yourself a pat on the back. Your reward: Possible promotion

Me and my fellow Quality Coaches

Call centers are a way of life. You gain deep friendships. You don't care if the top seller in the group has a college diploma or not. You get to speak with people halfway around the globe and learn about other cultures. You will understand that in order for you to be more fluent in English, it is important to think in English too. Your daily sustenance will consist of junk food from 24 hour fast food chains - burgers, pizzas, and microwave dinners.

So, if you think you are up to it, come and join the bandwagon for a ride you'd treasure your entire life.


  1. Well written Eileen. In our company,we have to adjust with the ever changing metrics. I also agree that health issues will occur if one will not consciously take care of one's health because of the sedentary lifestyle.That Is why it would be an added plus if the company will give discounted gym memberships, have at least a free zumba class monthly or even a sports fest event every year.

  2. hi! l absolutely love your blog- its really engaging and beautifully written. The layout is awesome too.

    lt would mean a lot if you could check out my blog. Maybe we could follow each other? :)

  3. Hmmm in another life I could consider working as a call center agent. I doubt though that I would enjoy being a vampire althroughout the week :) I admire your endurance and expertise. I would love to meet you one sweet day sis, I'll hand you a sarong :)

  4. Hmmm in another life I could consider working as a call center agent. I doubt though that I would enjoy being a vampire althroughout the week :) I admire your endurance and expertise. I would love to meet you one sweet day sis, I'll hand you a sarong :)


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