Ring! Ring!

Outstanding Experience

Like I said in the last post, I knew there were a lot of bad effects working in BPO but it doesn’t mean all bad.

Of course, the great experience I got outweighs the adverse effects I felt in this industry. Let me give some aspects I learned plus some brief explanation. I hope I can give a short explanations.

English Language became part of my life! Honestly, despite leaving this industry for more than a year now, even my work uses English but not that frantic pace like before.. I’m lucky to had trainings in my first BPO work. Unlike my last BPO work, there was no english or accent training anymore. Its more on learning your clients/customers thing. My first trainings focused deeply in the English language such as neutral accent, tone, vocabulary, idiomatic expressions and other parts of English that I never learned when I was studying. It came to a point that even I’m home, I’m still thinking English and sometimes, I just don’t like it anymore. However, this ability is such a blessing especially if you are thinking switching centers.

Understanding the customer service as an Industry! Yes, I can’t believe that this customer service thing is an industry, a sheer industry! I can’t be more proud that we Filipinos became number 1 in voice call centers due to our natural hospitable attitude. We had this ability so a lot of companies or fortune 500 companies willing to take a risk in our country due to this ability. The country is earning like $10 billions of dollars for just answering and solving customer concerns, processing transactions and most of all, getting things done. I understand now that even our own customer service call centers are quite average… I can say that it’s not our fault to have this level of customer service, but how we serve is making us money in the BPO industry. Even AI is now a threat, I still don’t think it can eradicate our great customer service to all foreign clients or customers.

Learning the fast dynamics of international business organization! Yes, don’t be surprised at the pace of this industry. Its very fast that a one year of operations it felt like 2 years because of the changes or dynamics in the operations of the company. Changing managements or clients are the norm. Even mergers, or sad to say ceasing operations is quite part of the process in this industry. You’ll learn a lot of industry terms, or how the business work. Like for example, I learned how Dell works and how to do it yourself their troubleshooting because of the website and service tag in their machines. That alone, I can identify what kind of model is that machine or the parts included. You will also know like strategies that the clients use for marketing, operations, and even yes some secrets. hehe So, there are a lot to learn plus a lot of interesting information you will absorb in the course of working in these BPO companies. The tools they use, and yes, the scripts they use. Great example, when you hear “We are doing our best to fix the situation as soon as possible.” That’s a good script for saying yeah sorry, our services are down, we are fixing it now so wait until it get fixed. hehe Yes, the lies or excuses thru scripts, you’ll use that information once you became a customer in other industries or companies.

Overcoming difficult workloads! Damn, when it comes to workloads, working in BPO is one of the difficult workloads to finish. Geez, I’m still frowning at one time, I had a work like to follow up 40 plus difficult cases to SME customers every day. Geez, it’s really damning and yeah exhausting. How about working in a 4 by 11 workweek? Going at work at 1am then going home at 12pm? Very encouraging shift! Yes, when you hear queuing!!! Its the end of your day. Your happy day will turn to very sad day. hahaha Or if you have already a bad day, expect you’ll be very depressed or angry at the end of the day. My last work in a backoffice, wow, 150 accounts to be handled every week and you need to deal with them one by one. Quite sad. But its refreshing when you finish it and yes, if its early, petiks!!!! haha

Dealing with irate customers were a breeze! (over the phone) Dealing an irate customer face to face is still a difficult one. But dealing an irate customer over the phone was excruciating at first. But after like months of taking calls, or how about years of taking calls.. You’ll become immune to it, at worse sadist. hehe You are prone to insults, cursing, racism and other bad responses to customers. For these kind of customers, you’ll just two things, first let them rant and curse all they want. Second, while the customer is doing that, never answer back in the same way (if you still want to work) then be calm and start searching for solutions. I forgot the most important thing, I know this will be hard but it works.. Don’t take it personally, especially come on, they are overseas right?

Multitasking is the best ability I learned. Typing, thinking, and talking at the person on the phone is the only ability you need to stay in this industry other than yes, great attitude. If you can do this consistently, then looking for another BPO company or ramping up your position won’t be a problem. For me, this ability helped me a lot in my other endeavors even sometimes, I don’t need to use it but it really helps. Its a reflex that makes you productive in any other work. If you have a faster typing speed, it will really help in your work. I speak slowly but my AHT is low because I can do all things at the same time, especially if I can navigate the tools easily. Some CSR or TSR now don’t do this but please, push yourself to do it so you won’t coached that you are not efficient enough.

Understanding the BPO company throughly. I know this part its not really a good thing but sometimes, their decisions is for the good of all. Great example, the Dell MOA closure.. I mean at first I was shocked and worried about my job but when they explained and saw all the facts, I understood it why they don’t it. Especially when I did business before, so such decisions need to be undertaken so it keeps running here. I knew it took some jobs away but well, Dell services is still here. Although its very small now and yes, more difficult working here, they were pressed and need to cut costs. Stellar is one of the companies that I can say very transparent. That alone made it very good to me. I was shocked that they give all the numbers plus explainations and not only that, very open to feedback. Although this industry is very volatile but sometimes, you need to be open minded to such strategies, decisions and actions.

Consistency is your lifeline and will define your success. Damn, I almost promoted twice in this industry, which I only did one thing. Consistency passing my scores. I can brag that, but not outscoring all the time. hehe I mean I’m consistent in my attendance, AHT, NPS or QA, plus other things even productivity ratio.. If you can do that in this industry, being proactive and consistent, you go places whether in other companies or in the same company. I always tell to myself, I’ll perform to shut the mouth of my TL or Manager. hahaha I know it sounds arrogant but in this industry, you need to really perform so you won’t be bothered all the time if you’ll survive.

Coaching matters. Yes, I think this is the only industry which coaching is a part of operations. Not a normal business operation gives coaching. I only tell what’s wrong or you need to do in my previous shop. hahaha But not one on one coaching with your TL, OM or QA. Or how about group coaching, team meeting or in team buildings. Coaching most of the them are relaxing, although some coaching sessions can be hell scary! But overtime and if you know the person who will coach you, coaching is fun. hahaha Coaching comes with inspiration, inspiring the one who needs help or guidance. Coaching helped me getting consistent performance plus some life lessons and most of all, you can teach others thru coaching. I full realized that when I became a SME. Wow, plus now I’m an online teacher, it touched my heart that teaching is not only a profession, its a mission.

Liberal thinking – Be open minded and be comfortable working with different clients, customers and even teams. Open your mind in different concepts, products, strategies, policies and even decisions. Plus, yes, gossips from other companies! haha Learn the customers or even the company itself. Your client and their mission. The client’s industry they are working with, the competition and sorts.. You’ll learn a lot even you won’t use it in your lifetime, you know it’s good to know.

Team for the Win! Yes, I think this is the most important thing I learned in the industry besides consistent performance. Working with the elderly, LGBT, newbies, veterans and the ass kissers or assholes (sorry for the french). Yes, at first there will be culture shocked but when you get used to it and please, be friendly or kind to your team. Always look at each other and whoever your Team Leader is, just work hard and follow him/her. Even your TL is so bad, perform at your best because somehow someway, your TL shortcomings will be exposed even you are performing damn good. Talking to higher ups is the norm. Open door policy is a must in a call center or BPO. Check your HR even your company is very good. Be friendly to anybody, even the admin staff, janitor, pantry staff and even the security guard. Don’t be shocked when you ride an elevator with foreign clients! Yes, please follow office policies. Lastly, don’t trust easily to a team mate, especially when it comes to money matters. haha If you are team mate for a long time or became friends, thats the time you trust. Don’t trust your team mate at training period. hehe Be ready to assist all the time. Yes, in a team, all of you are equal, even you are not performing and your team mate is the best agent in the same team. Remember, add fun to your work and to the team!

Enjoying great benefits! Know your benefits of your company and enjoy them! Damn, some companies especially the big outsource ones have benefits that are not used well. Definitely, work to an inhouse BPO company! haha

These experiences gave me life lessons and interesting inputs on how this industry works. I picked up some things that I can use in the future. I might use some if I have my own company. hahaha For now, I’m very grateful to this industry. Comparing to other industries, its a bit relaxed here than other set up.

Anyway, even others say yeah you only work in this industry (I’ll discuss that in other post), but with the environment and benefits you’ll experience.

I dare them to work in this industry!

Let’s see if they can survive 6 months here. 😛

Ring! Ring!

Adverse Effects

There are great benefits working in BPO or it has great effect in our country.. That’s for sure, but let’s talk about.. Not so good things about BPO. Unfortunately, there are a lot of it. It’s not I have this industry, but it’s a fact of life when you worked there. Been there done that type of feeling. I won’t be surprised that a former BPO employee says, “I’ve seen it all”

So, if you are planning or joining or thinking working in a BPO company, then take a look at this list. I might not cover everything so I’m apologize if I was not that detailed as it is.

Health risks – when you are working in a night shift plus doing this and that, boozing plus eating unhealthy and doing almost zero excercise, you are getting your health in trouble. When I was young, I can stay late or even work in night shift. But when I was older then did my last night shift work, my body just kinda resisted working in night shift. You became lazy and yes, the body really works at the morning. It’s not only physically you’ll be affected but also psychologically. There were days I admit I did not work at times, because it’s night shift plus I want to sleep more. I’ll be absent at that day, saying otherwise. For short, I was so lazy going to work. Unlike in the normal or morning shift, I’m working even I have slight fever or usual minor ailments or even I don’t have glasses which was very crazy. I had vertigo and still went to work.
There were other ailments I had, pharyngitis, my constipation got worse plus yes, even panic attacks. But those were not regular attacks but yes, they showed up when I worked that hard in this industry. Pharyngitis, wow, I’m not really speaking a lot, especially after work, but it just happened despite my extra care in my throat. Geez, I don’t want to happen that again.

Even yeah, companies have health insurance but they’ve changed as well. Before, you were getting big coverages and limits plus benefits, but now due to some issues plus other employees just well, faking illness just to avoid work.. Companies started to be strict and other companies are so strict, they won’t even allow SL even your condition should be getting medical attention. One great example, I had a team mate, who has stones in gall bladder and still taking calls. OM doesn’t want to allow him to take a SL or even Leave w/o pay, because he was threatened to be terminated. We are talking about an CSR who has been in this company for 8 years.. Talking about being number 1 center eh?

Yes, one more thing, since this industry is quite liberal, that includes sexually active as well. Unwanted pregnancies do happen and yes, even HIV. Although I haven’t experienced like a department or team who had those kind of cases, but I’m hearing a lot of cases like these.. It’s sad, but it’s just sometimes we need to control. You are free to do things but please safely.. Ah yes, reports of drugs or addictions got worse, well its kinda of norm in this industry. Geez, for me, my drinking got stronger when I worked here. I mean when you are drinking at the middle of a brunch because you just got out from work while others are eating brunch or lunch in the right time, something’s wrong right? hehe Or how about team buildings? Foster relationships? Improve teamwork? Are you kidding me? It’s a great time to booze! hahaha Even call center events, we haven’t start the program and yet everybody already got drunk. Geez..

Life is precious, so yeah, think about what’s in store for you. I haven’t talked about worst case health conditions. I know these things happens in other industries but try working like 12 hours straight in night shift plus after that your boss wants to drink and then everybody in your team wants to remove stress… Hmmmm and you do that like every other day, and longer in paydays… Let’s see how healthy you’ll be after that.

Politics – Like every office or organization, there will be politics.. Oh sorry, they use the term business decisions or strategy.. In a decade, I just realized, some decisions they did was more of making sure that the client is happy. Even dissolving one department just to save many agents. How about pulling out the account because the numbers in the other center peformed better plus cheaper.. How about raising stats even it’s unimaginable just to kiss ass for the client. It’s everything for the client right? Sometimes I thought it shouldn’t be. Most of the time. I don’t know what happened to the Verizon case but yeah, it’s affecting not only the US workers but also the most affected was the agents here. I’m imagining at that time, they are doing like 5-10 hours overtime per week due to that fiasco. Wow, so we are the last resort. It should be the other way around right?

How about exclusivity? Oh yeah that’s the norm before. It’s advertised that it’s the only center who handles this account and yada.. In the end, now.. It’s like all the centers have this one big account. With this set up, its giving an impression that everybody is equal. I don’t think so. One center has better management but facilities sucks. The other center of the same account has worse management but facilities are good. How about different pay schemes? So yeah, forget it..

Higher management is for the agent’s welfare.. Hmmmmm Out of the 7 centers I’ve worked, I think only 2 did really took care of agents or employees.. Others, notoriously bad in some parts. Others, they were great at first but became worst at the end. Especially when drastic changes happens. Which always ends up bad. I haven’t even talked about the TL agent relationship. The team dynamic issues or even agents vs. workforce fights…

So if you are planning to join this industry, yes, time realy flies fasts because politics and decisions made it fast. Don’t be shock that one day you have a job, one day, you’ll transfer forcely.

Relationship cracks – I’m talking about the effects of this work into the people around you. Especially if you work at GY (graveyard shift). It’s hard for parents, breadwinners and students working in a volatile environment, your relationships will change.. I mean you are sleep while others are working or studying. At night, families are worried when you are going to work, plus yes, safety is not guaranteed when you are travelling to work. A lot of times, I missed events for my family or even closest friends. Most of the time, I always say “I have work tonight”. One time, I even drunk one bottle and left the even because I need to work at my shift. Good thing I was not caught. haha For parents, you’ll miss school events or even awarding because it’s either you were so tired to get up or needs to get a lot of sleep. Oh we haven’t talked holidays, yes. We are holidays proof. Unless the client has the same holidays as the Philippines. haha Even families or friends understood you, in the long run, they’ll need you and sometimes, you were pressed to do not hard, but harsh decisions for your career and relationships outside the office buildings.

If you can withstand these situations, or don’t care the people around you or even you have no friends or few friends, they yeah, you are very welcome to work here.

Work life balance? Don’t believe that if the company says that. I can only say only the select BPO companies does that. Most of them, don’t even know what’s work life balance.

Driver of the Economy – For this part, I’ll explain the bad side first. Hmmm It is true that there will be a time that BPO will knock the remittances of OFW’s. This industry also helped a lot financially, including me of course. hehe It helped other industries to set up more business such as real estate, retail or even taxis, Grab or Uber. Despite the health risks or shrinking health coverage, having a health insurance also helps not only you but your loved ones as well.

However, there are downsides of this industry against our economy. Remember, as other says, this industry is like a travelling industry. It comes and goes. Some companies already reduced the centers due to costs. I won’t name them but yeah it happens. What’s shocking, these companies who closed centers were the inhouse ones. Reason? Remember, call centers are a cost, not most of the time profit, just reducing operational expenses that’s in the books of their main offices abroad. But if other centers offer much savings plus greater service, why keep the bleeding centers open right?

There are threats already from other countries, China is now aggressive in learning English as they want to capture this market. I heard South Africa wants to do it as well for the EU companies, even our neighbors trying to copy us. It means, we can’t rest really our laurels despite being the number one call center in the world. We need to not only improve our quality of service but making sure we produce the quantity, the people who can perform such tasks. Unfortunately, as I worked for almost a decade, those 2 factors, we cannot sustain. The quality of CSR’s, back office associates, TSR or simply BPO employee is just diminishing unlike the first years of the BPO, plus the quantity? The projections of graduates from High School or College doesn’t meet or even qualify for call centers. It’s a problem and I hope we find ways to sustain those factors. I think that the government shouldn’t really rely in this industry. I mean, it’s not bad to push this hard unlike before but definitely, we have other industries to push for such as tourism, manufacturing, or even banking, or infra industry.. Our county should be doing more than BPO as it’s not really reliable for the long term. Look at the first 10 years of this industry, many companies did come, but many companies either cut back or worse, closed centres.

AI? Nah, they can use it in basic transactions like making payment, or balance inquiry or simple changing of plans but solving issues? Complex ones? People or customers still prefer talking to somebody than talking to a robot or answering machine. I haven’t talked about NPS or Customer service metrics which thru the years, it’s becoming a joke..

So, if you are qualified to apply and want to take a shot of this industry, go ahead and apply, just make sure you have a lot resumes for a lot of times you might not pass.

I’m surprised this became long, but that’s all I can say about BPO industry. Even I’m still quite working in this industry till now, I don’t know if I consider it BPO or KPO whatever, I still encourage you, a college or HS graduate, career shifter, unemployed or even looking for a different path, take chance in this industry.

Remember in life, there are always bad or good choices, but sometimes the good outweighs the bad.. I believe it has good things in store for you.

I’ll tell that in the next page. Besides, it’s not all bad in this industry. =)

Ring! Ring!

(QC last part)

Hmmm Eastwood and Cubao are really great places to work. I mean, without the traffic, everything you need and want are there. Eastwood a great example of a balance between class and affordability. I said that because when you hear Eastwood, it sounds, well expensive.

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