Career series: Working as a call center agent

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Call center agents and their perceived lifestyles are as ubiquitous as convenience stores nowadays. Isn’t it time that we know more about what it is really like to work as a call center agent?

Call centers are just among the wide variety of companies that comprise the business process outsourcing (“BPO”) industry in the Philippines. Not everyone who works in a BPO is a call center agent because not all BPO employees take calls, if at all.

In a nutshell, BPO companies are companies based in foreign countries (usually the US) that outsource some of their functions abroad. Thus, some back office functions are done by the agents or employees from outside the BPO’s home country. This results to cheaper labor costs. The Philippines attracts BPOs because of our cheap labor as our minimum wage is only set at about PhP 500.00 / USD 10.00 PER day.

Our lovely reader Liane was kind enough to give us a little inside information. As a background, Liane is in her early twenties and previously worked as a call center agent. She is based in Manila.  She has opted to give out her first name for purposes of this article.

As told to 20 something lawyer

What I do

I was working as a sales representative for a US telecommunications company, Convergys, when I received a better opportunity as a customer service representative at another company, Sykes Asia, Inc. Sykes is the first call center in the country.

I had a short stint in the call center industry – 4 months with Convergys and 11 months with Sykes.

Joining the call center industry was merely accidental. I came with a friend to one of those call center job referrals. I ended up getting hired, while my friend did not. It was my first job right out of college.

My work functions

As a sales rep, we sold phones/plan, insurance for the phone, accessories and so on and we have a quota per day. The quota is the number of calls divided by the number of sales. We have a separate metrics for call handling time, quality, upgrades and also customer’s feedback and many more. Since I work for telecommunications companies for both call centers, their metrics are somewhat the same.

My typical day

A typical workday as a sales rep for at Convergys for me is super toxic, calls kept coming and coming so it’s super stressful. But working as a CSR at Sykes, a typical workday is just the same but a bit less toxic and the work environment with Sykes is super light. It’s like everyone is your barkada, even the bosses. We’re like a huge family and that’s what made me stay longer at Sykes.

Money matters

In terms of salary with Sykes, I don’t receive the same amount every month. If I have overtime, I sometimes receive PhP 10,000.00 (200 USD) and if I feel lazy to render OT, I’ll expect to receive PhP 8,600.00 (172 USD).

Personally, my salary is enough for me to get by since I don’t pay for a room or apartment. Uwian ako (I go home to my parents’ house) and the good thing about Sykes is they let their employees stay in the office. We have a male and female quarters every floor and the company also provides shower rooms. So if it’s holiday or if it’s going to be traffic, I’ll just stay in the office.

Work requirements

Call center companies do not require a college degree. Only good communication skills are required.

I personally hold a degree in BS Criminology, a 4-year degree from a state university. I spent next to nothing on tuition as I was a scholar of a member of Congress.

Reason for leaving

I left the call center industry to review for my criminology board exam.

Working in the BPO industry is fun and stressful at the same time. You’ll meet different kinds of people from different parts of the country. You’ll share life stories with each other, you’ll also learn to manage your time and discipline yourself if you want to keep your job. Haha!

People think working in the BPO industry is easy. Nothing is easy. We don’t just slack off and talk to people. We have these metrics to measure our monthly performance to check if we really are doing our job. Not to mention customers love to give feedbacks how you handled their concerns.

Would you recommend this job to fresh grads?

Yes. I would recommend fresh grads to work for a BPO company. If they want to have above minimum salary package. Incentives are not that bad as well. You’ll be motivated to do a really good job every month at syempre yun ang purpose non. Haha!

Impressions and Misimpressions?

First is we don’t have a script! It’s all about spontaneity. During trainings, we are not being trained to pronounce this and that nor do we have a special training how to compose sentences.

Also, there are some who thought that Call center is only for people who didn’t have a college degree and I would like to disagree. I, myself is a degree holder. I have friends who work in the BPO industry who are registered nurse, graduates of IT, Broadcasting, Education, Psychology, and many more.

Career mobility

In terms of career mobility, it depends on the type of account you’re in. If it is a pioneer account, promotion is a bit easy because after a year or two you may apply as a Subject Matter Expert, Trainer or Team Manager. As what i have observed when a Team Manager resigns or get promoted, the management will look for a new team manager. This means that anyone who qualifies can apply so there really is no specific time frame for you to get promoted.

As long as you’re doing your job pretty well, you’re a regular employee and you qualify for the position, the management will do some evaluations and they’ll pick the best person for the job.

Have you ever worked for a call center or for any BPO company?

xoxo,
20 something lawyer

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2 thoughts on “Career series: Working as a call center agent

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