What People DO NOT Understand About Being a Call Center Agent

10:23 PM

I have never worked in a call center company, never. 

So what gives me the authority to talk about this topic? It is being a mother to a daughter who has probably made the rounds of the best BPO companies in the Philippines before working in a foreign land beckoned to her. During her time, call center companies were just beginning to be known among the new graduates and not-so-new as possible places of employment.  I have to admit that I was among those who did not fully understand what it meant to be a call center agent.

Allow me to enumerate the misconceptions many of us may have with regards to the job of a Call Center Agent:

The Job

I don't know whether my daughter purposely showed me the easy side of being a call center agent so I wouldn't worry or if she found it really easy. All I knew was that she went to work excited and went home as sprightly as ever. It was easy enough, so it seems.

But in the way that only a mother can know, I knew it wasn't. She went through all the possible time shifts I could imagine working in. She had to acquire a British accent for her UK accounts. She had to master the art of dealing with all kinds of people including the outrightly obnoxious and unreasonable ones. When she went home teary-eyed one day due to work pressures, we finally settled that it was not easy being a call center agent. 

It was physically, intellectually, and emotionally taxing but did she back out? Nah...she decided she'll stick it out to learn and then went on to build her career, challenge after every challenge. Never the less, being a Call Center Agent is not easy.

The Standard

Many people entertain the notion that the call center industry is where people who have nowhere else to go for employment can go. While it is generally flexible when it comes to educational background, gender, and age, among others, this does not mean that call center companies do not select their employees using set standards. Being employed particularly in a reputable call center company provides pride and satisfaction in being part of it.

My daughter puts it quite nicely. A call center company is not a place for losers. For every single day that she worked in one, there is always something new to be learned, always a new goal to be achieved, always an opportunity to be better. A call center agent will always have to look for such opportunities while giving the best to each and every client. A company supportive of employee development is a company that's worth sticking with and building a career on. 

The Demographics

During the course of her work in the first call center company she worked for, she asked me if I wanted to be a call center agent as well. I immediately dismissed her suggestion as nonsense because of my age. I was under the impression that all call center agents should be young but apparently, I was mistaken.

She had several co-employees who were actually my age then, and some older, who actually found working as a call center agent very productive and suitable to their work preferences. I think one of the reasons why the call center industry continues to attract new work applicants is the fact that age, race, appearance, are not major obstacles to work effectively in it. However, my daughter thinks having a pleasant professional voice is a plus factor.

The Money

It is not a secret that reputable call center companies offer impressive salaries and benefits to their agents. This has of course attracted many applicants since one would be crazy not to want all that. This has resulted to some misconception that call center agents are in it only because of the money.

My daughter attests to the fact that no matter how attractive the compensation package is, you wouldn't last a minute longer being a call center agent if you are not a "service person", without making your life miserable. Unhappy employees usually end up leaving eventually. Those who make good and stay happily doing the job are those that have real passion for it. It is not always about the money.

The Purpose

Answering calls or making calls is seen by some as a social job. What many people do not understand is the essence behind these calls. It is worth noting that companies like Sykes was created to connect "people in need" with "people who are willing to help". This company was borne from the owner's passion for helping people.

The job therefore asks for genuine service to be rendered. Some call center agents may have misled people from thinking that the job is all about partying by the way they present themselves in social media and other forums. The job itself however, is far from being a reckless party. It is a serious business of helping people in an atmosphere of genuine fun and camaraderie.One more thing, my daughter says it's not true that agents only get yelled at by irate customers and stressed bosses, they also get praises and rewards validating their hard work. 

My Say

I don't think many people can imagine climbing the ladder of corporate success through the job position of a call center agent. We have to remember though that all people in top positions in whatever industry, occupied a starting position somewhere below, during the early part of their careers. Even natural heirs to a business can benefit in starting from the bottom.

That said, you need to start working on your career dreams right now because they won't work unless you do. If you wish to succeed in the BPO industry, work on it as dutifully as you would for your dream job because it can be for the right people. Take it from the mother of a proud veteran BPO employee. It isn't for everybody. Do you think it's for you?

This is an entry to the Sykes E-Recruitment Blog Giveaway

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