Feedback on Call Center Blues

I haven’t done this in a long while primarily because blogging itself (or finding the time to blog) has been a bit of a struggle — but this post is the start of many, so I thought I owed the people who responded a response.  (Pinay New Yorker used to respond to comments either in bulk or in individual posts beyond the comment feature…)

Between this post and the last, I have another post forming in my mind but let’s deal with the blog ideas one at a time.  I have always enjoyed this “blog conversations” as it gets me more inspired to keep thanks to those who took the time to leave a comment here.  The first two comments are actually special because most people who walk into my tiny corner of the blogsphere are usually strangers who don’t know me from Adam.  Not even my dear siblings read my blog and I often tease Alan that he might be surprised one day to find that I’ve revealed some salacious bit of gossip about him and he didn’t even know.  (Ha!)  But here goes..

EEYA (who happens to be my godchild) wrote:  Wow, very nice post, ninang. Made me more aware my regular words/casual conversation  over business conversation words. This will surely help me during my future job interviews!

To which (Ninang) Pinay New Yorker says:  The “slang” conversation is yet another blog topic… glad to be able to teach you something worthwhile.

Now, the next comment comes from another friend and while I have a good mind to write another post altogether in response to what she shared, I think what my friend Cream says just shows there IS an issue:

Nice post Dinna and SO TRUE in many points. I can totally relate esp the part about the “giggling” and background noise. You hear the other agents telling stories, giggling, leaving and saying bye to everyone etc. I’ve been tempted to let the agent I was talking to know that everyone else behind her can be heard and she needs to let them know. Maybe I should have, but didnt. You would think this is common sense especially in the environment they work in. Lack of training? possibly. Maybe the trainer themselves dont realize this is happening or think this is something that needs to be addressed. Who knows. They need to get with it tho. Maybe the more we talk about it, someone out there will listen and spread the word. (and fix it!)

I must say tho that for the most part, my calls taken by manila have been mostly good. I notice that they do try to strike up a conversation more and ask how Im doing. However, I still feel that “awkwardness” come through. Know what I mean? Something else that irritates me is when they try to adopt an american accent and it comes out exaggerated and fake. Its just funny sometimes because when they try to talk slang, I try to imagine being in that call center listening to everyone try to talk that way at the same time, when in reality they sound totally different when they get off work. Do they laugh at each other because of it? I think i would if I was there. But, they do what they have to do. =) Have to give them points for trying. No one has ever denied that I was talking to someone in the Philippines tho.

I am glad that the call center business is booming in the Philippines. Like you mentioned, “Filipinos do better as call center agents than their other counterparts around the world because of their command of the English language.” With some adjustments, things can only get better. =)

Cream, thanks for sharing this.  I have had some pleasant experiences and I always get a kick out of talking to our kababayans but then good service is what is expected.  I must say I often feel proud when I hear Manila on the other end of the line, because that means some big company entrusted its customer care to a business entity back home.  But in this day and age when we are all struggling to cope with the backlash from a weak global economy, there are lapses that we just cannot “let go”.

I just asked Alan this morning and even he agrees that with the numerous call center conversations he has had with other nationalities, you don’t hear them laughing or giggling in the background.  Other horror stories (like the call center agent actually scolding the customer) happens across the cultural lines — it’s human nature — but taking one’s job seriously to be professional at all times seems to be lacking in the Philippine scenario.  I am hoping that indeed, with some adjustments, things can only get better.  Because we ARE better, but we are not as good as we should be to compete globally.

Before I get the BPO community up in arms against my corner of the web here, let me say I speak as a consumer or a client trying to vent about my frustration that we (meaning us, Filipinos,) seem to be slipping yet again.  I sometimes get away with not letting on  the fact that I’m Filipino until I blurt something out in Tagalog, and oftentimes, (except that one time with Bel and her cohorts) I do it in recognition of the service rendered — as if it was a way for me to tell the call center agent on the other end of the line that I’m proud I’ m talking to a kababayan.

Denis who is in outsourcing put in his two cents worth, too:  I enjoyed reading your personal experience and evaluation on the Philippines’ BPO industry, particularly on the customer contact companies.

Since I know people who work as trainers at a couple of bigtime call centers here, I know companies are trying their best in supervising their agents and improving their performance to give the best service possible– these companies are even connecting to schools and colleges to provide classes to make students geared for call center work.

I guess there’s only a certain type of people, a portion of the population, who are really cut out for this kind of work.

 To which the Pinay New Yorker says: We have to try a little harder.  I know it’s a booming business and really, there is such a huge potential for this to give jobs to a lot of our college graduates.   You’d be surprised at how some top decision makers would do test calls themselves and/or listen to recordings to review the performance of a provider.  (Yet another blogpost in the making there.)  Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment, Denis.. (Ps. Do any of your friends’ companies have clients who have them call to get information on key officers in relation to a Compensation study?  I’m trying to hunt down Bel. )

It all boils down to taking our jobs seriously.  While the 10,000 miles separating the callers can practically assure the call center agent virtual anonymity, that same anonymity produces a blanket impression on Filipinos as a whole, much like we have been guilty of generalizing BPO companies based in India.  And for the record, there are other emerging markets who are snatching away the big fish so to speak, so it’s no longer just Andres Bonifacio against Mahatma Gandhi. 

There are call center facilities in far flung areas in Canada and the United States which are now seeing this as a good business opportunity.  American companies are now outsourcing to companies like Brazil, accent or no accent.  As with any business we figure in, we have to put our best foot forward and try to outdo the competition.  My vote is for the Pinoy — I just hope the Pinoy is up to throwing that punch like PacMan does on the ring to score a knockout.

Okay, lunch hour’s over.



3 thoughts on “Feedback on Call Center Blues

  1. Thanks for the post; I agree that sometimes Filipinos may be taking their jobs for granted. Maybe its boredom, maybe its out of habit, I’m not sure. But I think that if we want the Philippines to be recognized as a leading outsourcing country, we have to take upon ourselves the responsibility of taking our jobs seriously.


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