The Fair and the Ugly face of Call Center
We’ve heard a lot of good and bad things about call centers. Often they are taken out of proportion, twisted with exaggeration or demeaned with understatement. Yet we all know that everything is subject to public opinion of which there will always be two sides of the coin.
Unfortunately, many perceived call centers as just another place where easy money is found, a place that requires no talent or skills, where the kind of job is almost available at anytime. The reality is that it’s of nature to judge, that humans are inclined to highlight more of the negative rather than the positive. Undoubtedly, this is the same reason why almost everyone labels call center jobs as; “simple”, “unchallenging”, “relaxed” and many more, and as a matter of fact its employees are being scrutinized and critiqued in so many ways.
With the experience I have in the BPO I would like to think that I have seen the face of call center life. I would like to share to those call center aspirants a handful of questions that I came to stumble upon and learned the answers were just in sight. The truth may either hinder or encourage those who seek for a better employment in the BPO industry. However, I believe that it is vital to see the two kinds of face of the BPO industry. Only knowing the difference between the facts from the fallacy about Call Center will help clear the minds of those who fear the unknown.
So what is it really that entices many to join the BPO?
I will explain the fair and the ugly face of a call center life respectively, based on my personal perspective and you decide for yourself whichever you perceive either may or may not be of importance to you.
- Compensation and Benefits
The services rendered by each employee are given a compensation equivalent to the scope of responsibility at hand. In the local rate the minimum wage varies depending on the class it belongs which may range approximately from PHP300 – PHP500. A call center on the other hand, has a monthly rate inclusive of basic and allowances, night differentials and overtime ranging from at least PHP15000 a month or could be more depending on their assigned programs. Therefore, the least daily rate of a call center job is PHP600, far from the minimum wage of a non-call center.
Benefits wise, almost all call centers practice an employer-shouldered HMO including a limited number of dependents. The employees are also covered with a term insurance that serves as their protection from financial loss in cases of accident, disability and death. Term insurance means that once an employee separates from the employer the coverage of the insurance will be terminated as well. In addition to the mentioned basic benefits of call centers; there are spiffs, commissions, incentives, bonuses, freebies, gifts, giveaways, financial assistance, education allowance and others of value given to help an employee in performing at his best and enhances his productivity which are available in different forms.
- Personal Development
Call center is one company that promotes personal development. Engaging an employee in different activities; awareness related seminars i.e. Finance, Health and other self-consciousness events, from community feeding and volunteering activities to team building, outing and parties are by way of fostering relationship, help develop oneself and improve realization of each employee’s goal in life. These activities’ expenditures are taken from the company’s Human Resource employee engagement or the account’s budget of which objective is to enhance the employee’s quality of life.
- Global Competency
We all know that call center programs are gigantic companies from different parts of the globe; JP Morgan, Lexmark, Amazon, eBay, QBE, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Telstra, to name a few. With the kind of opportunity handed to call center employees, we become globally competent to perform the jobs that were once only available to the local.
- Human Capital
Knowledge and skills are not innate, they are acquired and they are learned only when they are taught. In fact, many call center employees are still learning them because it takes time to be fluent at one task, to be skillful enough to exercise it with automation. Such development of an individual is the opportunity provided in call centers. Continuous improvement is one of the many things that gives call center a leg up from any other company. The employees are trained at no cost, while the company itself spends a lot of money to equip their employees with enough technical, analytical and communication skills. Call center is one industry that capitalizes and invests on human knowledge, talent and potential since it does not require physical labor to carry out its role.
- Career Growth
Have you not asked why call center is booming and has significantly progressed for such a short amount of time? This is because they value their people by bringing out the best in them. The career path of call center employees is not limited to the number of years of his service or experience, nor the sole approval of the boss. The career path of an employee is derived from his own. Unlike other companies, it takes years and years of service to get to the top.
The fair face of call center empowers and is sought after by its advocates. Now, the ugly face will be feared and used against the one who found refuge in the BPO industry. Therefore, let us tackle why there will always be criticisms thrown on our way.
- Health Problems
A bigger percentage of call center shifts are graveyards. This is because the nature of business caters to international market in the US and Europe. The term graveyard is not use for no reason. If such word is literally defined, it is a place where dead people are buried. For a lot of reason, facing health issues could be one threat in the graveyard shift. For one, lack of sleep can result to a risk to heart diseases and can lead to a lot more toxicity and health problems.
- Safety Risks
Call center employees who travels to work on the evenings go out late at night from their homes. The criminal activity, road accident and even random misfortunes are seen to be rampant during the night. The fact remains that ill-natured hearts lurk in darkness and with such kind of risk precaution is a must.
- Lifestyle Influences
We are all aware how partying, drinking session and bad health habits are common in such a diverse environment like the call center. It is known to us how hard it is to manage stress that most of these employees will do anything to get rid of it and much more ignore it. Thus, the easiest thing to do is take on any road to relieve the feeling of helplessness, frustration and too much pressure without knowing that they have incurred such a lifestyle that was once influenced to them and now they passed on others. Now it’s a never ending road that continues to domino effect.
- Job Security
Such a high paying job demands a stringent standard. The call center companies govern rules and regulations to their employees to align their standards to be globally competitive. It is therefore, pertinent to abide by these rules in order to survive where many are hungry for success. The truth is that job security is not a question of what kind of employer you’re with but what kind of employee you are.
In a call center the business is about your customers. It starts from handling customers, may it be technical support, customer service, or sales. When you can’t handle objections, rejections, verbal insults, and others alike then it will be difficult to fit in. The job requires a strong personality that can manage any kind of situation and turn the odds to your favor. This fact will always be a big mountain to climb. It can be rewarding when you learn to become resilient.
The ugly is not ugly at all when you learn to overcome and unveil the good in it. The two kind of face; “the fair and the ugly” may be visible in the eyes of the open mind and blinds the ignorant.
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