Ask Se7en

How to get that elusive call center job.

First Time Employee, Went on AWOL

Posted by on August 20, 2014


This is  going to be a short post. 

Here  is the scenario:  You are a fresh graduate.  You found a job for the first time.  After a few months,  you went on AWOL. 

Since you need another job,  you are not sure if you should be declaring the the previous company or not.  

You don’t have a choice but to declare it. 

Why?  Remember that you have tax and SSS deductions  which means you have a tax identification and SSS number.  If you stick to lie that you’re  a first timer,  how do you explain having a TIN and SSS number?

You follow?

Se7en

Posted in AWOL, Job Hopping, resignation, terminated | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why can’t they just tell me I failed the interview?

Posted by on August 12, 2014


Originally posted on Ask Se7en:

job-search-fail-featured

I was just in the elevator with an applicant who was cursing our recruitment specialist for handing her a regret letter. She lamented that she’s been to five different call centers since this morning and all gave her the dreaded letter and because it was happening too often, she’s reached a point where she no longer cares and will keep applying until she is offered a job.

This is probably true for many applicants out there, people who are trying to get into the call center industry but has been facing one  failure after another, and the worst part? They have no idea why. Recruitment specialists are not and will never be obligated to tell you why you failed, they will just either give you the equally dreaded and mystifying “send home script” (“We will just call you in 48 hours. Don’t call us, we will call you.”) or give…

View original 1,037 more words

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Is Call Center Work really stressful?

Posted by on July 17, 2014


Hi Se7en. I just graduated and right now, I am job hunting. Karamihan sa mga company na ina-applyan ko are call centers. What really scares me is the stress level. Totoo ba yon? I mean, stressful ba talaga? Pano ko iiwasan na ma stress? Also, sabi mo sa blog mo almost 13 years ka na sa industry, how did you survive that long? Akala ko kasi pang trabahong fresh grad lang ang call center.

Marian

Hi Marian. Thank you for your email. It’s true that I’ve been in this industry for 13 years (going 14). When I joined the call center industry years ago, I had the same opinion, in fact, sabi ko sa sarili ko “ito na lang ba ang kaya kong gawin?” I looked at the call center as a blue collar type of job with no future because it was a no-brainer kind of work.  This kind of unhealthy, immature, misdirected mentality led me to a negative attitude towards the work that I was doing and made me develop the job hopping behavior.

One day, I realized that I was already 30 plus, was still an agent, no career development, very limited skill and competency and to make the long story short, I got tired of the kind of professional life I was living. I searched deeper and realized that the problem was not with the work or the company, it was my perception towards the work, the industry, and the fact that I perceived it as future-less. In order to change my situation, I needed to change my mindset. When I did, everything changed.

That’s when career  stepped in. I began to look into the long term. I started with looking at what I needed to improve on (leadership and management) and asked all my TLs to guide me (I still do that today). Bottom line, if you need to change the situation, you need to change how you think, else, you will get stuck in an endless stream of resignations and applications.

As for stress in the call center, it is true. In fact, as soon as you decide to sign a job offer, you need to embrace  the reality that there will be stress, whatever that account is. Failure to accept this reality means  you will be wallowing in it – dizzy, demotivated, and wanting to quit. Thing is, everywhere you go, there will be stress, sometimes, the stress where you went is actually far worse compared to the stress of where you came from. Sabi nga nila, from the frying pan, straight to the fire.  This is the reason why call center employees are paid higher – the more complicated the task, the higher the pay (sadly, volume (or the number of calls you take) is NOT a basis for a higher pay).

What do you do with stress? You don’t avoid it. You face it head on. Well, you face it head on with information and solution. This is how I behave towards stress: I am stressed because of a problem. There is a problem because either there is a gap in the process, there is lack of communication or understanding, or it is behavioral (people).  When facing the problem, remember the 80-20 rule (otherwise known as the Pareto Principle). In simple terms, it means that the source of 80% of your problems is caused by 20% of something – find out what that 20% is and solve it, then the rest of the problem will collapse.

Finally, you need to learn which battles to fight and which ones to ignore or let go. Lifehacker wrote a wonderful article about that here.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Handling | Leave a Comment »

How can I get a job after an AWOL?

Posted by on July 15, 2014


Hi Seven. I found your thread online. Anyway, I am writing because I got terminated last December 2013. Now, I wanted to apply at VXI Makati. Are they strict on background check? I will placed my previous employer on my resume that fired me. But, I’m scared that I won’t get hired.

I got terminated because I went on AWOL (mid-life crisis..i don’t know what to do with my life). Now, I made up my mind that I really want to pursue my career in a BPO industry.

Please, please help me. Many thanks! Godbless!

Marissa

Hi Marissa. Thank you for your email and I apologize for the late reply. It’s been a really difficult several weeks for me, fighting off fires left and right, so to speak.

To be honest, I am  not aware if VXI is strict with background checks. I have very little exposure to this company. (VXI peeps, please help us.)

Here is what I think about your situation though:

1. Dont rely on one company. Have several applications and job offers happening all at the same time.

2. It makes more sense to base your decision on career development instead of which company will get you first or which one is willing to look beyond your past mistake.

3. Focus on the skills and competencies you possess instead of feeling guilty about your AWOL.

4. Dont be afraid to fail the background check. It just means that company is not for you.

5. Set your story straight. Decide now if you want to hide or show the previous company. Remember that both choices carry different risks, it’s all a matter of seeing which choice can bring you closer to where you need to be.

If you decide to hide it, you now run the risk of getting discovered. If you remain open about it, admit the mistake, admit the personal problem, express remorse/regret, and look towards what you can contribute based on your learning in the past and your experience – you are selling yourself better and this can be seen by the recruiter.

Finally, when you finally find a job, stay. You owe it to yourself to stay because we are not getting any younger. Quitting is very easy, try something more challenging, stay.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

P.S.
I’m posting my reply because the email I sent you returned.

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Low Down on Background Checks

Posted by on July 9, 2014


Hi Seven. My best friend told me about your blog and that you answer questions regarding the call center industry and that you’re always online to respond. May question ako: totoo po ba talaga ang background checks? I mean, do companies really spend time, money, and effort just to find out who you are? 

TIA for the response.

Lovely

 

Hi Lovely. Thank you for your email. I hope you don’t mind if I post my reply here instead. It’s true that I respond to questions, so long as I know the answer (hehe), and it is not true that I am always online, I sleep too. Haha. 

Now to your question. Yes, background checks are a fact of life not just in the call center industry but in most companies. A background check is the company’s way of ensuring that you are who and what you say you are. Remember, the company is going to trust you with their resources, provide you training, etc, therefore, it is imperative that the information you provided on your resume is “true and correct.” It is also a process to deter criminals and job hoppers.

There are several ways of doing a background check. 

1. Over the phone – the company calls the references you provided on your resume. Sometimes, they also contact the companies listed to ensure that you actually worked there. 

2. Home visitation – often employed by multinational companies and BPOs or call centers with a financial account. They hire the services of a third party investigator to do a house-to-house visits to confirm that you live there. 

3. Registered mail – this is used when they need to get information about your academic records.

4. Social Networking Sites – “You are what you post.” This is why some companies now include your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts when doing background investigation. You’d be surprised how your SNS accounts reveal so much about your personality, attitude, and behavior. 

5. Your BIR and SSS company history – Not a lot of companies are doing this but some, especially those who are big on integrity would compare your BIR and SSS list of companies and your resume. Depending on how serious they are, they can pull you out of training or nesting and terminate your employment. 

So long as you are not hiding any companies or lying about your work experience, you will be fine. This is why  I always suggest to fresh grads and newbies to study the job offer carefully and compare it with others before they start working. Too, thinking about the long term plans and career development is always a plus for any employee. If you can’t help but leave,  a clean exit is always ideal unless it is an extreme case (medical, death, etc). 

Finally, please make sure you ask the permission of your character reference before you put their name on your resume, this way, they can expect the call and positively vouch for you. 

Let me know if you need more information. 

Thanks.

 

Se7en

 

Posted in Call Center, job offer, resignation | 3 Comments »

Why Can’t I have my Team Leader as my boyfriend? (Ugh, really?)

Posted by on July 7, 2014


Hi Seven. A friend of mine resigned from the call center she was working for, the reason? She and her manager fell in love. My friend was so upset because she could not believe that the management was getting in the way of her happiness. Bawal ba makipag-relasyon sa call center?

 

Abby

 

Hi Abby.

It really depends on the company and the scenario. By policy and for a host of reasons, it is improper for a manager to have a relationship with his direct report. By this, I mean, being a Team Leader, I cannot have a relationship with someone from my team. The reason is obvious – I may not be able to handle work issues if we were having issues in the relationship (like jealousy,etc). Second, there is that tendency to cheat on matters like attendance, etc. Third, just imagine the conversation during coaching time.

Team Lead: Honey, sweetie…this has nothing to do with our relationship and you know I love you very much, right? But last night, I caught you releasing three calls.

The girlfriend: Ikaw naman, honey…sweetie pie…hayaan mo na yon. Ngayon lang to, promise…bawi na lang ako sa iyo tonight (sabay kindat)…ready na ang mayonnaise, hand-cuffs, at latigo…game ka na ba, honey?

Team Leader: Tara, Hon, uwi na tayo…

Seriously though, to avoid complications like this, the Code of Conduct specifically prohibits a manager to have a relationship with a subordinate, and this extends to the manager’s sphere of influence. What do I mean by sphere of influence. Attendance is the best example. Let’s say he is an operations manager, he is managing three team leaders, and in team 1, he has a girlfriend. During approval of the attendance (for pay purposes), there will always be that “doubt” that the manager “might” be padding the time sheet of the girlfriend just to make sure she has no salary deductions.

There was a recent case in our company related to this. When the management found out that a Team Leader was having a relationship with an agent, the agent was investigated and the Team Leader was summoned. HR asked the agent to submit proof that there was a relationship so both of them were forced to deny. However, HR was a step ahead of them, a screenshot of the chat and email exchanges were printed by IT. End result? Team Leader got suspended despite his denial, and the agent felt like she was sacrificed because the Team Leader did not fight for their relationship. In the agent’s mind, mas mahalaga pa ba ang trabaho mo kesa sa ganda ko?

Masalimuot, I know. Ugh.

Hope this helps.

 

Se7en

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Final Pay Processing (When Can I get My Money?)

Posted by on July 7, 2014


Hi Seven. I’m planning to resign from my current CSR post. Being a first timer in the BPO industry, I don’t know how long the processing of the final pay will take and this concerns me because my family and I need the money. I’m hoping you can respond ASAP. 

 

Jeff of Makati

 

Hi Jeff. Thank you for your email. I hope you don’t mind if I post my reply. I’m sure there are others out there who are in the same boat as you. In fact, I was once in your shoes. When I resigned from my recruitment job from a call center in Makati, I didn’t take into account how long it will take me to get a job and as a consequence, I lost a lot of things (and people). I won’t go into the gory details though. 

Let’s talk about the process then. 

First, plan the timeline of your resignation. You see, once your manager accepts your resignation, he will advise HR. If you you are serving a 15 or 30 day notice, you can already assume that within this period, your salary will be held (immediate resignation means your salary will be held immediately). Having said this, some employees (including myself) would file for a resignation after the release of a pay, this way, the money can be used and plan for the worst. You know your personal financial situation so you need to ask yourself if a 15 days worth of pay will help you tide things over until you start your next job. 

Second, when you resign, make sure (1) you already have a next job, (2) your job offer is signed, (3) you ARE SURE of the training schedule, and (4) it will not be within the final 15/30 days of your stay in the company (which will force you to go on AWOL, and that is usually bad). 

Your salary is on hold for the next 30 days, right? On the last day of your employment with the company, you will be processing your clearance. This means you need to have your manager, someone from IT, facilities, finance/accounting, and HR sign it (you also need to return company-owned items like the HMO, your ATM, headset,e tc). It is best for you (or anyone) to have your clearance processed at the last day of work, this way, all the signatories are easier to find (if you’re lucky, all of them are in one place).

After your submit the clearance to HR, your final pay will be processed anywhere between 60 to 90 days. A word of caution here, some companies are not able to keep the commitment they make (probably the reason why you are leaving), therefore, do not plan for the final pay if you have not received it. 

Once you have the check (hurrah!), you need to find out if it is for:

a. For Deposit Only – You need to deposit the check to your own bank account and will have to wait for a few days for the check to clear. 

b. For Encashment – party time! (But you need to go to the bank branch where the check can be drawn. Bummer, right?)

This may sound cliche but in cases like this, it is true what they say: chance favors the prepared mind, therefore, it is imperative that you plan ahead if you do not want to catch yourself in a delicate financial situation simply because you failed to consider the timeline. 

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more information.

 

Se7en

Posted in Back Pay, Clearance/Exit Interview, job offer, resignation | Leave a Comment »

How do I maximize my HMO coverage?

Posted by on June 26, 2014


Hi Seven. I am a first timer call center employee and a fresh graduate. One of the benefits I am very happy about is the HMO. Can you please give me advice on how I can maximize the use of this benefit?

Sansa Stark

Hello Sansa. First off, thank you for visiting my blog. Second, I’m really sorry about what happened to your dad. What happened to Eddard Stark wasn’t necessary and I think the writers and producers went too far beheading his character. (laughs)

Now to your question. I had to suppress my laughter when I read your email – wanting to maximize your HMO coverage. Sansa, the HMO coverage is not meant to be maximized. Just like life insurance, it is something that is good to have but you never want to use. Think about it this way: May insurance ka nga, nakatulong ka nga sa mga beneficiaries mo, gulay or patay ka naman. In the same token, may HMO ka nga, labas masok ka naman sa ospital. so again, please do not think about maximizing this benefit.

Here are a few tips though:

Your HMO provider will give you an orientation. Please listen carefully, this way, you will be fully aware as to what illnesses are covered, what are excluded, and what hospitals and clinics are accredited.

You will be given a booklet. Please do not lose this booklet, especially if you and your dependents will have a need for it..

Save your card or account number to your phone and keep it there in case of emergency and your card is not within reach.

Usually, the HMO card has a customer service number, save it on your phone. Why? In the absence of the booklet, you can call or text the customer service hotline and ask for accredited clinics, doctors, and hospitals. In my experience, Intellicare (our company’s HMO provider)) has NEVER FAILED to reply, and I truly appreciate the for that, lalo na at sakitin ako.

When you text or call your HMO provider, they will need your name, company name, and card or account number (this is why you need to save your account number in your phone book).

I know a lot of employees who take the use of their HMO record for granted. In my experience, you really need to monitor the usage because when a serious illness comes in, all those laboratory work, routine visits, appointment with doctors, and other procedures related to that illness will be deducted from your balance.

Know when your HMO contract is renewed, this way, you can take advantage of additional benefits like teeth cleaning, “unlimited” tooth extraction, limited filling, etc.

Monitor the use of your card. Remember, you will have a given amount per illness per year. Also, remember that all the appointments with the doctor, lab works, procedures, surgeries, etc, are subtracted from your balance for an illness.

Why do you need to monitor the use? I will give you an example.

Recently, I had three surgeries (two in the mouth and one in the hose), because I failed to monitor the usage, I had to pay cash to cover for the shortage. My card’s coverage for my illness was no longer enough because of several appointments with doctors (second opinion), the sleep study, a hospitalization (related to the same illness), and some other procedures done.

More often than not, we think the Maximum Benefit Limit of say, 175,000 per illness per year is enough. Believe me, when it gets serious, that is not enough.

Also, when you or your dependent is hospitalized, please make sure that you obtain a signed copy of your Philhealth contribution from your HR, you will need this document, otherwise, you will have to pay for the Philhealth part simply because you do not have the document.

If there are issues about your HMO that you are not clear about, please do not hesitate to ask your HR. The last thing you want in a medical emergency is not knowing what the process, procedures, coverage, and usage is, therefore, it is imperative that you educate yourself.

I hope this helps.

Se7en

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Is a bigger salary better? Really?

Posted by on June 25, 2014


When we apply for a job, our first question would always be “how much is the pay?” As soon as the digits are given, we begin to imagine how this figure will fit (or not) into our lives. In previous blogs, I have advocated that it is wrong to base your decision to accept or decline a job based solely on the salary. I have always believed that if you work for a career, money follows. Experience has taught me this guideline is true, for me at least.

Just recently, I had a dinner with my fellow team leaders (courtesy of our bosses) and over dessert, our discussion centered on the company 24/7 in Makati. My colleague, a former (long-term) employee of the said company shared that many of the candidates are demotivated and are planning to leave because of the lack of growth not only in their career but in their salary level as well. What stops them from leaving is the fact that their basic salary is too high that no call center or BPO  is  able to match their income, much less give them a higher basic.

This fact isn’t just a problem for employee, it IS a major dilemma for companies. Currently, the company I work for offers as much 8% in yearly salary increase (depending on performance). If you think long term, you will have a lot of high paying call center agents who will eventually hit the pay grade ceiling and begin to think about leaving because they no longer have a reason to stay. The BPO industry’s average yearly salary increase is about 3%, and with our 8%, we may be trendsetter but in the same token, we are setting ourselves up for an ambush in the near future. This conversation made my boss realize that the company executives need to revisit the salary increase rate currently offered, otherwise, we are another 24/7 in the making.

This made me realize that having a high salary isn’t exactly a total advantage, especially for the people who (1) doesn’t have any plans of staying for a long time in a company, and (2) are not promotion material.

There are two common reasons why a person resigns from a company: either he or she is looking for a better career/challenge, or a higher pay. When it is the former, a highly paid call center employee will have a difficult time finding another company who is able to match what he is earning, here, he is to decide whether to stay with the current company or start in another with a lesser offer.

This is a red flag for recruiters. When interviewing a highly paid call center agent, a recruiter’s immediate concern is (1) why is this candidate applying for this job when he is already earning *this* much?, (2) will this candidate stay if I hire him?, and (3) if he accepts the lower offer, why? It is not a normal behavior for anyone to accept a lower offer if  his severance with the previous company was problem-free. This leads the recruiter to ask more questions and whenever possible, advises the background checkers to be more diligent in finding out why the employee resigned.

Personally, I’ve become wary of companies whose strategy for hiring people is offering a high salary instead of a career. In a way, instead of offering a carrot to the rabbit, it’s offering a watermelon, bigger, greener but ultimately irrelevant and the rabbit will eventually realize that what was given to him was not what he truly wanted. We see it every day, just take a look at how BPOs and call centers advertise their vacancies. In big bold letters, you will see basic salary they offer (instead of the more important career direction, etc), feeding the people’s misconception that in order to choose a better career, you need to look at the digits. It has been my advocacy that people should learn how to evaluate a job offer in a holistic manner, with a specific goal of planning for the long term instead of just looking at the basic pay and nothing else. It’s shallow, immature, and myopic.

This is a wake-up call not just for me, but for first timers in the call center industry (especially). You probably joined the industry because you thought income here is high and while that is true, you also need to realize that eventually, you will want something more than money – a challenge, a promotion, or a new set of skill or competency that your current company is not able to offer. When that time comes, that high salary of yours will leave trapped where you are.

 

 

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What is a difficult interview question for you?

Posted by on May 21, 2014


Hello All!

This is a suggestion from Claudia (via email). 

What is the most difficult interview question for you? 

Post the question below and how you answered it. If there is a need, I will make suggestions or revisions to the responses. 

 

Hope to hear from you.

 

Se7en

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

The Call Center Bond

Posted by on May 16, 2014


Hi Seven.  Ano ba talaga ang bond? Bakit may ganon? Pano maiiwasan yon? Anong gagawin kung sinisingil ka? Makukulong ba ako? 

James R.

 

Hi James.

I got your email yesterday and since your questions are very interesting, I thought I would just turn my response into a post, this way, we can share the info with everyone.

What is a bond? 

A training bond is nothing more than a contract that says you will be paying a specific amount if you leave the company (whether by resignation or by absconding) within a specific period. For example, I worked for a company in Northgate and we had a training bond for six months. If I left before that, I will be liable to pay Php 20,000.

Why is there a bond?

…because a lot of people abscond. Attrition is a serious threat in the company’s investment. When a person gets hired, the company will spend for his/her on-boarding, training, etc. Therefore, to recover this cost, the company has to make sure the person stays so that his “working hours” can be converted into income for the company.

In the same token, when the company sends an employee abroad for training or education, he/she needs to sign a contract binding him to the company for several years.

How does a bond work?

As mentioned above, it is a contract. It is binding as soon as you sign it. If you leave before the end of your “bond”, you will be held liable for either the full or a pro-rated amount. In the example I used above the Php 20,000 is divided to six months, so if I decided to resign on the 4th month, I will be paying Php 6666.00 (Php 20,000/6 months = Php 3333.33).

If you didn’t attend the training at all, are you still liable? 

Technically, if you already signed the contract, you are.  However, the counter argument is  I didn’t even attend the first day of training, what company investment am I wasting? (except perhaps for the recruiter’s time and the piece of paper I signed). By the way, when you do not attend the first day of training, that correct term is NO SHOW, not AWOL.

In the above case, what should I do?

Call your recruiter before the first day of training and tell him/her you are backing out. That is responsible and professional. This way, the recruiter can give your slot to another candidate.

I already went on AWOL and now I am receiving letters.

Naturally. You are fully aware there is a bond, you went on AWOL, the collection letters will follow. It really depends on the company if they will take your absconding seriously and take you to court for breach of contract. Most companies will just let it go – because the cost of litigation is more expensive than just hiring another one. In my 13 years in the industry though, I have never heard of any employee who went on AWOL and was dragged to court or was garnished – ever. What I have heard of are former employees who needed their clearance and COE from the company and had to make a settlement just to clear their name (or to get it over with).

 

Am I still liable if I get terminated?

Technically, you are not liable, especially if the cause for the termination is failure to meet the metrics. However, if the cause of failure is deliberate, that is, the company perceives that you were intentionally trying to fail just to leave and avoid the bond, you will be held liable. Of course, the company has the burden of proof.

What if I need to get my clearance from my former company where I went AWOL? 

You need to visit the company and settle the balance. Sometimes, you can even negotiate it. Bottom line, you signed the contract which gives you the obligation and if you want/need the clearance for your next employer, you need to settle the balance.

I don’t have any money, how can I pay for it?

Why you did you go on AWOL in the first place? As mentioned above, if you need the clearance, then you can  make a payment arrangement. After all, how can you settle a loan if you don’t have a job, right?

 

How can I avoid the bond?

Simple. Do NOT go to a company that’s known to have a bond. If you have no idea if there is a bond or not, use the internet to research information. After all, as an applicant, it is your obligation to conduct research and this is a part of your due diligence a responsible human being whose goal in life have a career instead of floating around. Also, please DO NOT ask a recruiter if there will be a bond or not – this is a bad question and whether you are qualified or not, you will fail. Why? For a recruiter, it is a clear sign that you have no plans of staying or developing a career.

 

Ultimately, the decision to go on AWOL from a company where you signed a bond will haunt you and cause you inconvenience but will you get incarcerated? I very much doubt it. Most of this companies would rather focus on running the business and will just ignore you (eventually). Then again, why court the disaster of being seriously hounded for a contract you agreed to in the first place? Be professional. If you can’t really stay in that company for whatever reason, stay for the duration of your contract, use the time to learn about skills and competencies you do not have, and as soon as the time is right, leave.

If you have any questions or clarifications on this article, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. If you have a story to tell, please don’t hold back.

Hope this helps.

 

Se7en

 

 

Posted in AWOL, Back Pay, Call Center, Job Hopping, terminated | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Manila Bulletin’s Job Fair at the Glorietta

Posted by on May 13, 2014


Manila Bulletin is having a Job Fair at the Glorietta Activity Center from May 13-15.

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A reflection on changes – Roll with the punches

Posted by on May 8, 2014


I haven’t written anything in a while since it’s been a really busy past two months. The business unit with the company I work for has been expanding and changing so rapidly that I’ve been having a hard time catching up.

I was away for almost a month after my three surgeries (2 in the mouth and one in the nose) to fix my breathing problem and constant throat inflammation. In my absence, another manager took over my post and changes and improvements happened. One of the changes meant that I had to give up everything I have done for the business unit and have a more tenured manager take over. The relief from the pressure is a blessing in disguise.

Initially, I felt bad when the decision to relieve me of my assignment became a reality but knowing my ability to roll with the punches and think two or four steps ahead and looking at the bigger picture, I immediately saw the silver lining. The following morning after the announcement of the change in the task, I was actually feeling better.

Interestingly, after hearing the news, people assumed I would hang on to the bad feeling (and perhaps the grudge) so they would walk up to me and ask me how I was feeling, most of them could not believe how I got over pretty quickly. Some were insistent on having an explanation but I kept it to a minimum. What it meant? I was in the right company where people cared about people.

If I didn’t have the maturity on how to deal with issues, I would have walked out and just moved on. Then again, doing that would just make me go against the very thing I preach: NEVER bring your emotion at work. When you do, that will be the end of you. Second principle I have? No matter what happen, do not vilify your manager, do that and it will be the start of the end of your career.

My career is VERY important to me, it is more important than my pride. THAT is my secret to rolling with the punches and always looking forward at the horizon and being very action oriented.

This week and next, I will be preparing for the transition. As a leader and a manager, I have yet to develop and sharpen my skills and competencies and the new team and business line will be where I do it. This way, I can show people that when someone thinks that you can’t do it, you don’t go and quit, you PROVE THEM WRONG.

Wish me luck, guys!
Se7en

 

Posted in Call Center, decision making | 2 Comments »

How to Ask Se7en via Google Hangout

Posted by on April 12, 2014


Some questions are urgent, and since my advocacy is to help, here’s how to send a chat invite so you can get direct answers for your questions.

Send an invite to this eMail address: iwannabeacsr@gmail.com

1. If you have an Android phone, use the Google Hangout app that I’m sure is already installed.
2. If you’re using a web browser, just login to you GMAIL account, find the chat feature (I think it’s on the left panel), then send an invite to the email address above.

I’m currently on month-long vacation (ending April 21), meaning, so long so I am awake, I will be able to respond to questions. However, I strongly suggest you send your questions between 8am to 7pm, Monday to Sunday.

Thank guys. Talk to you soon!

Se7en

Posted in Call Center | Leave a Comment »

Which one are you?

Posted by on March 28, 2014


image

Image Courtesy of The Business Insider.

Posted in Call Center | Leave a Comment »

Sharing an article from Rappler

Posted by on March 11, 2014


In Defense of Telephone Operators

What do you think?

Se7en

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Call Center LIfe’s 2nd Year Anniversary

Posted by on March 10, 2014


Call Center LIfe's 2nd Year Anniversary

I didn’t know today was my second year anniversary as a first time blogger. Thank you for reminding me, WordPress!

To all the patrons and visitors of Call Center Life – 100,000 views and counting – THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Se7en

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Waiting for the Final Interview result

Posted by on February 20, 2014


It’s wrong to be idle while waiting for the result of a final interview. It means you’re limiting your options to just that. It is highly recommended to keep looking for a job and have as many job  offers as you can, this means you will have the option to evaluate the best offer that can provide a career, good benefits, work you will be comfortable with, and the pay that suits your skills, competencies, and needs.

Got questions about a recent final interview experience or job offer you got? Use the comment section below or chat with me via Google Hangout (iwannabeacsr@gmail.com).

Se7en

 

 

 

 

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Went on AWOL sued by the employer. Anyone?

Posted by on January 12, 2014


Hi All. I am looking for someone who can relate to us this exact story – went on AWOL, paid the bond or was sued by the company. Please tell our readers what happened, how it happened, and how long the battle lasted. I encourage you to relate only YOUR OWN STORY and not the one you heard from your neighbor’s lover’s cousin’s friends’ girlfriends’ brother’s dawg. Thanks.

Se7en

 

 

 

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Call Center Life: Ten Things You Need to Survive

Posted by on December 26, 2013


You’ve tried to land a job in the call center industry and finally, after so many attempts, you got in. Is it time to celebrate? No. You’re not out of the woods yet. As a first timer in the call center industry, the first six months, even up to the first year of your work is your break-in period. Some people are able to adjust easily, a lot, however, fail to survive.

Now that you got in, the next item in the agenda is to survive. The question is how, right? Here are a few things I’ve gather over the years.

1. Get away from complainers and people who give bad advice.

These are the tenured call center employees whose first reaction to everything is negative – from their work schedule, their pay, their scorecard, their team leader, the company, and overall, their job. They’re not hard to spot really. A classic sign of this is their attendance record. You can also check their habit and mannerisms when taking calls – do they bang the mouse a lot? Curse a lot when the customer cannot understand them?  Choose carefully the people you hang out with.

2. Talk to your Manager/Team Leader.

Never shy away from a conversation with your manager, in fact, you should be the one to start it. Understand the kind of person your manager is, how he thinks, what irks him, what’s good and bad in his book, and ask him what his expectations are from his agents (he might even ask you what your expectation of him is). More importantly, ASK YOUR MANAGER FOR GUIDANCE. Don’t wait for a coaching session to ask him this. Right now, ask him if he has a minute, then tell him this: “Sir, I am a first timer in the call center industry and while love the work, there are a lot of things that I need to learn. I want to succeed, to reach the level you’ve achieved and I can’t do this alone. I  would like to ask for your guidance.”

3. Learn everything that you need to learn.

This may sound too general, but there’s a gem to it. From the moment you enter the company, everything you need to do is to learn – about the product, process, systems, customer service, call handling, scorecard, the company culture, policies and procedures. Your learning doesn’t stop. The problem begins when your do “blind” learning – learning without direction, what’s worst is when you learn by necessity, meaning, you learn because you need to. Learning needs to have direction, a goal, and ultimately, it needs to level up. This means that once you have mastered your job and everything around it, you need to learn about leadership and management. You need to improve your skills and competencies and aim for the next level.

4. Be different.

Admit it or not, you are surrounded by people whose goal while working is just to get by (I login then logout), or just to get paid, or worst, you are probably surrounded by job hoppers – people who have been in this industry for so long and all they do is to find out which company offers a higher pay. This is where you can be different. What this industry needs are more game changers. People who are goal-oriented, whose direction is to achieve growth in their career via tenure. It’s so easy to leave the company and jump to the next – BE DIFFERENT. Do something more challenging – STAY. Not only does this benefit your learning and your career, it also provides –  I am a firm believer that if you work for the career, money and fulfillment follows.

5. Perception management.

Always remember this: right from the day you start in that company up to the day you resign or retire, you will be watched and listened to. What you say, what you do, how you resolve issues with people and work, your professionalism, your attitude and behavior, (your contribution or lack thereof) and how you speak will never escape the critical minds of your leaders. Your daily interaction with them will form part of how you manage  their perception of you. Speak like a complainer and you will be last in their priority, but speak like you are a part of the solution and they consult with you first. Consider these two examples: “Ano ba yan, kasalanan ba nating mga agent kung humahaba ang AHT, eh an bobobo ng mga customers?” and “Boss, I’ve noticed that the AHT is taking a hit, and as a member of the team, I am very concerned. Is there anything I can do to help?” The trick is simple: be a part in finding the solution, don’t be a part of the problem.

8. Motivate yourself

What makes you wake up in the morning, go through horrendous traffic, do the work day in and day out, then go home tired and sleepy? If you’re able to answer this straight with an inspiring reason, then you have a great motivation. If you paused for a long time or says “That’s a good question”, then you have a problem. Motivation is an important aspect of your work, without it, you will have no direction, desire, joy, satisfaction, and you will find yourself in an endless state of emptiness. Motivation is the wind the blows the sails of your ship and, in turn, motivation gives you that extra energy to navigate the most difficult part of your career successfully; it’s the one that tells you to keep going when everything or everyone is telling you to quit.

9. Take things personally.

And by this, I mean be accountable for the things that you do and are responsible for. When you take things personally, the first thing you do when there is a problem is to ask yourself “what have I done that may have contributed to this problem?” Then, you follow it up with “What can I do to improve myself to make sure this will not happen again?” Taking things personally allows you to grow, to improve your skills and competencies, and it gives you direction. When the caller is irate, take things personally – that is, “how can I help this customer resolve the issue? This way, not only will he be happy, I will shorten my AHT, handle the case with efficiency and effectiveness, and have a positive result on my CSAT.”

10. Don’t be a HONDA

A HONDA is the term they use for people who logs out ON THE DOT, they have no reason to linger because for them, work is a confinement, therefore, the top of the hour spells freedom. People with direction, with motivation, and with a dream for a career stays a little longer – to help a colleague who is having trouble with his stats, to chat with the bosses, to ask his/her Team Lead if there is anything he can do to help, to confide with his manager about issues, or simply, to relish another successful and productive day. He stays because he finds joy in the confines of his work.

Finally, here’s the real point of this article: agree with me or not, the word “survival” is used for or by people who are in a wrong place, situation or time, hence, the need for “survival tips”. If this is your case, you need to think deep about your situation.  Not being able to embrace your present reality spells trouble in the long-term. If you are new in the call center industry and you feel the need to survive, a change of perception is much-needed. If you have been in the call center industry for more than a year and are still trying to survive, my question is “why?”

 

 

 

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Grass Is Always Greener Everywhere Except Where You Stand

Posted by on December 24, 2013


Hi Se7en,

Im Jake, 25 yo, Management graduate and a licensed Professional Teacher (took units in Education). Been with the industry since 2009, joined multiple companies and i considered myself as a hopper but also a high performer. Not until with my current which I’m staying for almost 1.5 years now(which is a rare feat).hahaha Been out of your blog for almost a year and a half too and It’s my first time to visit your blog again. Im sorry. ;) Now, i need your expert advise as I’m planning to resign in this Industry 1st quarter of 2014 for good.

I have several questions in mind before handing my resignation letter to them. Is there life after working in BPO? What are the possible industries that you can recommend which can be a good place to start? Do i need to declare all those job experiences I’ve had which is irrelevant to the position I’m applying in? What is the best way to defend gaps in your employment?

I need a brand new start. A totally new start without me depending on BPO/ITO. I’ll wait for your response. Thank you and more power.

Sincerely,

Jake

Hi Jake. I really appreciate the fact that you’re looking to ask questions and do research first before you file for a resignation – that is the way to go. Before I answer your questions, I’d like to ask, what was the reason why you stayed on this job for more than a year? How is your scorecard? What kind of account do you service? What is the reason why you said you need a fresh start? You also said you want one without depending on the BPO/ITO? I’m not sure what you mean there. Are you putting up a business?

I will wait for your response.

Se7en

With regard to staying on this job, Are we talking about in general or with my current? Generally speaking, its because of the high compensation and other benefits. If its about with my current, i would say an accomplishment and a challenge for staying that long. By the way, thats the longest in my 4 years next is 8 months, 5mos and others just barely after 2mos then i went awol.

Scorecard: No problem. Agent of the month for months, no tardiness and absenteeism issues.

Account: customer service for B2B account. In house. We manufacture and support our own products.

The reason why i wanted a new start because of the ff: its get boring, routinary and no longer challenging. Sorry for the term. I dunno what right term to use. I dont mean to be rude. :) I feel like my professional development is getting stagnant. No upskills training. Promotion is slow. Though my managers keep saying “you have a bright future ahead of you.” In my head Until when i will wait for promotion?

About the BPO, what i meant was i dont want to depend on working in BPO/ITO industry alone. Looking for an industry that is different where im used to.

Thanks,

Jake

Hi Jake. Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment. When I saw your post, I immediately thought that it deserved a post in my blog. There are a few issues that I’d like to respond to, and in the process, answer your question and share information to the public as well (in the most visible way).

There are four things that I noticed from your post:

1. Your perception about tenure and promotion.

2. Your personal and career development is based on your company and your leaders.

3. It’s greener on the other side of the fence.

4. Your perception about what “challenge” is.

Let me explain:

1. People tend to think that just because they’ve been holding the same position for a long time, or simply because they are good at what they do (proven by their scorecard), or if they make a lot of sacrifices in order to do more, they deserve to be promoted.This mentality is wrong. Being good at what you do or exceeding your scorecard’s expectation does not make you a promotion-material, it simply confirms that you’re good at what you do, period.  Getting promoted is an entirely different ball game. You need to exhibit the qualities, skills, and competencies of a leader and a manager (if you’re asking yourself what these qualities, skills, and competencies are, it means you’re not yet ready to be promoted).

2. A lot of people think that their personal growth within the company and in their career is largely dependent on the company and it’s leaders. This, too, is wrong. A person who is interested to become a leader (and to get promoted) will not wait for the company to provide him the training or exposure. He researches, he watches videos on leaderships, he discovers the principles, skills, and competencies and then lives them. This makes him a viable candidate, as a result, the company notices that he exhibits the skills, thus, making them  perceive that he is ready for the next level.

3. Many people tend to think that they need to start over in order to achieve a career, when they do, they realize later that there is another pasture with a greener grass, so they find themselves hopping from one valley to another. This is wrong. The problem? The grass is ALWAYS greener everywhere except where you stand. What they achieve isn’t advancement, it’s called the ‘pabarya-barya mentality”. What they fail to realize is this: if you stay, you establish a career, then tenure, achievement, satisfaction, success, and money follows.

4. Finally, a lot of people think that since they have achieved a level of efficiency and effectiveness in a certain function, they have reached a dead-end, that there is no more to learn, what follows becomes a vicious cycle – instead of continuing to improve the skills and competencies they mastered, they leave to find another skill by starting from scratch, not realizing that they were in a perfect position to study a “higher” level of competency, ultimately leading to a leadership position. People who tends to think like this become hoppers for a long time until they realize it’s too late.

Jake, let me be honest with you. I am not entirely convinced that you lack the challenge in your career, the challenge is YOU, you just can’t see it. You are in a perfect spot to acquire the skills and competencies of a leader, you’re not seeing it because your focus is money, not to have a career. You do not need another job or another pasture in order to achieve your dream, you can use your current company/work to develop the necessary skills, live it, and get noticed. It takes time. Leadership is not something you can bake in 20 minutes or 2 years. If you fail to see this, then you are not ready. Leaving your job now doesn’t make you anything, it doesn’t bring you advancement, you simply just become a job hopper (as you have been for the past few years).  Remember this: career advancement isn’t just about getting promoted, it’s about increasing your value as an employee in order to become more viable, more marketable. You do this not only by climbing the corporate ladder but by increasing your knowledge about the company’s business ventures and letting the leaders see that you are a valuable asset because of your contributions.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

Se7en

 

 

 

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s Christmas and I’m at work

Posted by on December 19, 2013


This will be the first time in eight years that I’m going to spend Christmas at work. In the past, either I’m allowed to file a VL, or I’m just lucky enough to be on a rest day. This year, it’s different. I need to be at work because I told my team that I’m not expecting anyone to file a VL, I have to practice what I preach.

Why? It’s a basic expectation for anyone in the BPO to be present at work during these times. Remember the interview question “Are you willing to work during holidays?” We said yes to that, didn’t we? Moreover, our employment contract states that we will have work on weekends, and will probably be on a shifting schedule. We signed that contract. When you agree to something, you need to honor it. You know what you were getting into, why the change of heart along the way?

If I stated that I am not expecting anyone to file for a VL on Christmas and New Year’s eve, I wasn’t saying something new. However, because there is such as a thing as “employee engagement”, employees will often think that “the company and its leaders are too insensitive….anong akala nila samin, hindi tao?” My answer is simple, “you already know what you were getting into, bakit ka kasi nag call center?”

If you’re intending to work in a call center, this is a part of the “basic” expectation, therefore, you need to ready yourself and set your family’s expectation, this way, you will not be stressed or disappointed. Failure to psych yourself up for this kind of reality will only mean either you getting fired, suspended, or go NCNS.

Happy holidays everyone! Enjoy your shift!

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ASK SEVEN and the COMMENT Section

Posted by on December 19, 2013


Hi everyone! How is your job hunting so far?

This blog may not be updated everyday but I make sure that all comments are replied to. My goal is to provide a response within 24 to 48 hours after receipt, or as soon as I get it (when I have time).

Having said this, I encourage everyone to browse the comment section, you can even join in on the conversation.

For those who want to chat or simply just say hi. My Google Hangout is online 24/7 (although I may not be), just add iwannabeacsr@gmail.com.

If your situation is more sensitive and you require anonimity, you can send me an email on the same address.

Thank you everyone. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Se7en

Posted in Call Center | 4 Comments »

Notice to Explain (NTE)

Posted by on December 17, 2013


Dear Se7en,

The company that I work for has a strict attendance policy. What happens is that for every incident of tardiness or absence, there is a corresponding point, the total points that a person can have is 8 and if you reach that, by policy, you are subject to termination. My recent absence has bumped up my points to the max and I am really worried about my status here. I want to keep this job and I love this company. Thing is, I do not know what to do or how to do it. Although my TL has been very understanding, I am really upset at HR. My TL advised that HR will be sending me a Notice to Explain and there, I will be required to respond. Am I going to be terminated? Please, I really need your help.

 

Marko

Dear Marko,

I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I would be very upset if I were in your situation, but being upset is the last thing you need. Let me tell you why. 

First off, I am familiar with the attendance point system you are referring to, the company I work for uses the same model to curve attendance issues. Second, you need to understand that it takes several incidents of tardiness and absences to actually reach the 8th point. Third, so long as it is below 8, your TL can help you, however, since you are maxed out, your TL has no choice but to give way to the process. Remember this:  termination starts and ends with you. Your TL’s role is merely to document the incident and in this case, he no longer has a choice but to give way to HR since technically, this is out of his hands. 

The last thing you want to be right now is upset. If there is one person who deserves your ire, it is yourself. Remember, HR, your TL, or the company did not ask you to be late or absent, YOU alone decided to be either late or absent based on the circumstances that you were in at the time of the incident. Then again, you cannot  use the circumstance as a reason because what is in question here is your ability and commitment to keep your end of the bargain – to be present at work all the time. 

What will happen?

Usually, after the final straw has been drawn (by you), your TL will be forced to send HR a document indicating the attendance infraction, the number of points incurred, the date, etc. Upon review and validation of the document, you will receive a NOTICE TO EXPLAIN (NTE) and you need to respond by way of a letter within 5 to 7 days. The NTE will detail your attendance infraction and to ask you to explain why you have reached 8 points and since this is offense is terminable, you need to include an appeal as to why they need to give you a chance. This is where you need to focus.

The tendency of an employee when he is in this situation is to play the blame game, to hate his TL and HR and more often than not, fail to look deep into himself to find out what really caused the problem. The same hatred will push them to think that they no longer have a chance, so either they misbehave more at work, become disrespectful and unprofessional, or worse, would go on AWOL. This type of response, of course, only results to an escalated situation, resulting to the person losing his job although now, out of sheer stupidity simply because he isn’t terminated yet – he is being given a chance to explain by way of the NTE. 

After HR receives your response, they will arrange a hearing and this will be attended by several leaders (not your manager) and an HR representative. During a hearing, the panel will present to you the case and you need to explain yourself. From there, they will decide whether you are worth keeping or letting go. The worst mistake you can do here is to project your faults elsewhere (blame your TL, blame your health, the situation at home, or the company policy). Doing so will tell the panel that you have no recognition of your responsibility and you have no remorse for what you have done. Playing the blame game will just lead them to terminate you. 

What can you do?

The first thing you need to do is to calm down. What’s happening is a result of your action, therefore, you need to face it squarely. Second, instead of hating, contemplating on negative things and consequences, focus your energy on writing the explanation letter along with an appeal. If your letter is convincing enough, the hearing may not even be necessary. 

When writing the Letter of Explanation, remember the following:

  • The goal is to KEEP THE JOB
  • It is a Letter of Appeal, not just an explanation. Therefore, the overall tone of your email should be apologetic.
  • Use work-related facts to show that you are worth keeping (assignments given to you by your TL, the outcome of a project, your scorecard, CSAT results, commendations, awards won, citations, etc). 
  • Show remorse. No blaming. No projection.
  • Discuss your plans for the next few years within the company (eg I was aiming for a Team Leader post within the next two years and I am currently in the process of working with my Team Leader to improve my skills and competencies, etc). 

As I’ve mentioned, the hearing may not be necessary if your letter of explanation is satisfactory, but just in case the hearing pushes through, do not fret. Remember that the hearing is a part of the process, it is an opportunity for your to explain your situation and prove your worth. Follow the same goals above, this time, you will be able to SHOW them how sincere and apologetic you are. Admit that you are sorry and you do recognize your responsibility and the importance of your role, and that you are pleading for a chance to keep your job. Here, you need to sell yourself by showcasing the same facts you discussed on the letter (consistency is the key) by discussing your scorecards, project results, an endorsement letter if you can get one, etc. By discussing facts about your work, you are showing them that you are a person of result, that you are passionate about your job, and that you are worth keeping. 

Remember this: the priority of the panel during the hearing is to hear your side and NOT to terminate you. If they wanted to fire you, they would have done so already. 

When I was faced with this situation several years ago, this was what I said during my introduction at the hearing:

I want to sincerely thank you for being here to listen to my side of the story. At the same time, I would like to apologize because instead of you working on your tasks to help the business grow, you had to spend an hour of your time to be here. 

To cut the long story short, I was given a chance. Months later, one of the panelists (a manager from another business unit) shared to me that she could never forget me and that hearing. She added that in her years of experience in attending hearings, she has never had anyone who, despite the tremendous pressure the process brings, both thanked an apologized to the panel “for being there“, it was always someone crying, blaming, hating, projecting, etc. She ended her revelation with “I knew right there that you were different, that you will be climbing the corporate ladder and had to be given a chance…” 

Marko, as I’ve mentioned, you can be upset, but you need to re-focus your energy on the task at hand. You aren’t terminated yet, however, if you fail to prepare for your letter and the upcoming hearing, you might as well resign. It is an option, but why settle for quitting when you can give it one more fight? After all, if you win this bout and are given a chance, it’s like being born again. 

Let me know if you need more help. 

 

Se7en

 

 

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

On Advancement-related bonds

Posted by on December 16, 2013


There comes a time when an employee is given an opportunity to go abroad, sent to a training to increase his skills and competencies, or to rise to an opportunity (eg a promotion), and sometimes, this “rise” comes with a “price” – a bond. It’s logical if you think about it. The company is simply looking out after its investment, therefore, given the opportunity, you need to stay for a specific period. Now who in their right mind wouldn’t grab such an opportunity? Just thinking about the title, the perks, and the money that comes with it, it’s worth the risk, right?

Wrong. If you look at it solely for its monetary value, then it’s wrong.

Most people who think they are bored with their job, burned-out, or is simply looking for a challenge to satisfy a craving should stay away from opportunities like the ones mentioned above, simply because it will not cure their boredom. Companies, too, should check the true motivation of an employee before they open such a chance, they could be opening a can of worms. To award such an opportunity to an employee who is simply bored, lacks motivation, or is seeking challenges to overcome is a waste.

Both ends will suffer – the company for spending too much money and expecting the employee to step up, and the employee who, in the middle of the bond, realizes that this isn’t what he or she wants. Here, I agree with companies who raffles off the opportunity to deserving employees and by way of contest, gives it to the best and the most deserving.

An employee who is given such an opportunity should always think first before he accepts. He needs to contemplate on his career direction, his motivation,  total satisfaction with the job he is doing, his compensation, or simply ask the question: “is this really what I want?”. A self-evaluation will always prove fruitful in the end.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, decision making, Internal Promotion, job offer | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Posted by on December 12, 2013


I find it ironic that I offer advice to people who  write to me yet I have no one to run to when I am at my lowest, darkest, and most downtrodden state.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center | 4 Comments »

Don’t be afraid to fail…

Posted by on September 1, 2013


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Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview | 2 Comments »

Difference between a bio-data, resume, and a CV

Posted by on August 27, 2013


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I went on AWOl, should I kill myself now?

Posted by on August 9, 2013


Hi seven,

I’m really depressed right now and I’m on the verge of suicide, don’t know what to do, I did AWOL in one of the biggest BPO’s here in the Philippines (really well known in the BPO industry), they sent me 2 letters about termination. First letter was they’re asking me to report back to hr and state the reason I went awol, the 2nd letter is they’re asking me to pay for the 20,000 training bond or else they won’t give me my CLEARANCE and BACKPAY and said I’m already terminated. I really don’t care about the clearance and the back pay, but what happened is I wanted to apply in other call centers because of the account being much easier and VERY close to where I live, but honestly, after I AWOL, I always fail for the Job offer, I always get a glimpse of my score when they’re trying to check it and see that it’s always high! I already applied in other call centers after. 14 times to be exact, but all of them always say ” going to text you” or ” going to call you after 2 weeks ” but of course, I don’t really expect the call from them because I know I already failed, but BEFORE I AWOL in that BIG BPO, I always pass and was able to get a JOB OFFER, but like I’ve said, after I AWOL, all failure, Am I already blacklisted in all call centers? and if YES, I’m really scared to know the answer to this, am I also BLACKLISTED in all NON-BPO industries here in the Philippines? I’m really really, depressed just by thinking about it.

Thank you in advance seven. Really waiting for your reply.

Ronnie

Hi Ronnie.

First off, going on AWOL and receiving RTWO and demand letter isn’t a cause for suicide. It’s, forgive me for saying this, too shallow a reason. You need to get a grip and decide to face the situation.

Second, as in any AWOL case, you were wrong for doing so. The reason why you are facing the stress of receiving demand letters is because you started the process. Remember, termination starts and ends with you (except in some cases). In your case, this is true.

Going on AWOL because the account is difficult or because you found a company closer to home IS NEVER ENOUGH A REASON to go on AWOL. Maiintindihan pa ng marami if you absconded because a family member is dying or you were facing an extreme crisis. Admit first that you are wrong so you can move forward.

Third, NEVER ignore summons. The RTWO order is actually beneficial to you since (1)it will give you a chance to have work and GET PAID (the last time I checked, this is important), and (2) it will give you the chance to explain your side. Now, during the hearing of your case, the panel will decide if your reason is valid or not. Of course, if they think your reason for absconding is risible, you get fired. In this case, negotiate with them if you can just resign. There is no harm in trying. The third advantage is, terminated or not, you will get a clear answer if you will be charged the bond or not. Remember: to have an outstanding balance (by way of the bond) means no clearance. The reason why you are problematic is because matigas din po kasi ang ulo mo. Fear is never an option for not facing an employer.

Fourth, just because you went on AWOL it doesn’t mean you’re automatically blacklisted by ALL CALL CENTERS – there is no such thing (unless that company is a CCAP member and the 14 companies you applied to are all subscribed to the [blacklist] database). Your failure has something to do with how you respond to the questions, or it has something to do with your grammar/diction/intonation/etc, or the recruiter is able to tell that you are lying. I also think that you are failing because the (perceived) heavy baggage you are carrying inside is affecting your performance during the interview.

Yours is a classic case of “from the frying pan straight to the fire”. Why? You had a job, you decided on the wrong option, and now you’re unable to find one.

Since you are now terminated, you have no choice but to move on and accept your fate. As for the bond, if the company is serious with the collection, they will hound you. You can choose to ignore it, but if is choosing the wrong thing again? Of course.

As for your job hunting, you need to sit down and think about the lessons you learned from this experience. You need to come up with a different answer to “why did you leave your previous company?” Responding to this question after your termination is difficult, you are torn between lying and telling the truth. Truth is, it’s all about word play. You don’t say “resigned” because you will be lying, and neither should you say “terminated” because that’s setting yourself up for failure. Use phrases like “I left the company”, or “my employment ended”. If they asked why, you can simply tell the truth, that you were looking for a company closer to home.

The major question really is, do you the declare the previous company? It’s a choice you need to make, but I assure you, the AWOL made your situation more stressful. Declaring it means you will have to come up with a story and be consistent with it and hiding it means you need to find a way to explain what you were doing during the “gap”.

Personally, I don’t like putting myself in situations like this because it puts you in a defensive position, a stressful one I might add. The goal of a job interview is to sell your skills and competencies and to prove to the potential employer that you are fit for the post. Going on AWOL just puts too much clutter in an otherwise smooth process resulting to lack of focus on the applicant’s part.

During the interview, your saving grace will be your gift of gab so I am praying you have one.

Let me know if you need more help and I apologize if I sound stern.

Se7en

Posted in AWOL, Call Center, Call Center Interview, Clearance/Exit Interview, decision making, Job Hopping, job offer | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Going on AWOL because of personal issues

Posted by on July 23, 2013


Unless you are dead or dying, no amount of personal issue will be enough to justify your action for going on AWOL. Talk to your manager if you have personal issues that needs special attention, especially if it will require you to be absent. Remember that when you accept a job offer, you sign a contract. Going on AWOL is violating this contract, so do not be surprised if the company will demand payment (if there is a bond), or file a case against you for breach of contract. In the same token, you are to demand from the company what they promised you, if the company fails to meet what you have agreed upon, then you can file a case against them provided such a case has substance. Mahirap kasi kasuhan ang company dahil lang wala silang coffee vendo, sleeping room, etc.

Whatever you do, do not go on AWOL using “personal reasons”. Lagi kang talo if you use this as a reason.

Posted in AWOL, Call Center | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

I have the best scorecard, why can’t I be the Team Leader?

Posted by on July 18, 2013


Hi Seven. I recently applied for a Team Manager post and for some reason, I failed. It was my teammate who got accepted for the position. Aside from the frustration, I am resentful plainly because my scorecard is way better than my teammate’s by leaps and bounds. I also think that the management did poorly in choosing her because I strongly feel that I am the best candidate.

Marijo

Hi Marijo. Thank you for visiting my blog and for sending me an email.

I cannot help but feel your frustration. I am sorry to heard that you did not make it to the Team Manager post. The first thing I would like to discuss is the misconception that simply because you have a way better scorecard than the rest of the population, you will be the first choice. Remember this: the scorecard IS NOT and WILL NEVER BE an assurance that  you will be promoted, it is merely a measurement of your efficiency and effectiveness in doing the tasks you are assigned to do (e.i. taking calls, answering emails).  A great scorecard opens doors for you, but that’s it.

I understand the feeling of frustration, anyone who fails will go through that. What I don’t understand is the feeling of resentment. Why? The fact that you are resentful means you are not yet ready to be promoted. Despite the failure, a person who is ready to become a leader and a manager will ask him/herself:

  • What are the qualities that a leader/manager must have? .
  • Do I have these qualities?
  • Am I able to show these qualities at work?
  • What is my manager’s perception of my professional maturity/readiness?
  • How did I do during the interview?
  • While I am waiting for another opportunity, what can I do to improve myself and increase my chances of getting promoted?

I understand that you need to mourn this defeat but you need to give it a deadline. You need to start asking the above questions in order for you to move to the next level. You can never achieve success in your work in the call center industry if you limit your perception to your scorecard. You also need to talk to your manager and the people who interviewed you, ask for help – tell them that you are trying to better your skills and competencies and you would like to use the available time to prepare yourself while you wait for the next vacancy. Your Team Leader IS your best guide. He/she will be able to direct you to achieve professional maturity. He/she can also teach you qualities a first line leader must possess.

Marijo, there are two possible reasons why you failed, one is you did poorly in the interview; the second one being you are not qualified for the post yet. Notice that I am using the word “yet” – this will never become a possibility if you do not work on your skills and competencies.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Internal Promotion | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Call Center Bond

Posted by on July 18, 2013


Seven,

Why is there a bond in a call center? It’s unfair that they are implementing this since I’m there to work, not to become their prisoner. I’m planning to resign but I’m unable to since the contract I signed says that I need to be with the company for six months.

George

Hi George. I apologize for the late reply to your email, I’ve been responding to a lot of them lately and I accidentally skipped yours.

A bond is nothing more than a protection for the company. The reason why this is implemented is because of, I’m sorry to say, people like you. Hiring an employee costs three times more than retaining them, therefore, in order to protect their investment and help stop attrition, a bond is implemented. A bond is a contract between you and your employer and the only reason why you feel this is NOT FAIR is because it does not serve your purpose. Remember That YOU SIGNED THE CONTRACT when you accepted the job offer and you are bound by that contract to honor it. At least, honorable people will do so.

The call center bond will become unfair IF  (1) you did not read or understand the employment contract when they signed it, and (2) they really do not intend to stay that long. People whose goal while working is to establish a career and be with the company for a long haul will never have an issue with the bond, their issues are far better grand and noble, such as how to improve their skills and competencies so they can climb the corporate ladder.  My question here is, if you didn’t plan to stay that long and after knowing that there is a bond, why did you sign the job offer?

This is why evaluating the job offer completely is imperative for anyone who wants to have a job. Additionally, it is your responsibility to check on your motivation for working and to make sure that if there is a bond, either you do not accept or sign the employment contract and go elsewhere. Remember that a job isn’t just about the basic salary, anyone who thinks this way is a fool.

Finally, since YOU HAVE WORK, why resign? Don’t tell me about “greener pasture” – there is no such thing. The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side no matter where you are, therefore, if you keep this cliché as your guide for working, you will end up with nothing. Never move to another company because the salary is higher, move because it best serves your career FOR THE LONG TERM.

I hope this answers your question about the BOND.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, resignation, terminated | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

When you are offered a job you don’t want…

Posted by on July 17, 2013


I’ve received a lot of question related to them being evaluated for a post which is different from what they applied for. Case in point, James applied for a back office account but was evaluated and offered a job for an inbound customer service account. Another candidate, Amiel was applying for the email account but was endorsed to an outbound collections account. Why does this happen? What can you do to avoid it?

1. Remember that a recruiter is a match maker. He/she has several accounts he/she is evaluating you for and his/her priority is to put you in an account which he/she thinks best fits you based on the skills and competencies you have.

2. Remember to read about the company’s accounts/business units. You need to make the recruiter understand that you are applying for a VERY SPECIFIC position and that you should be evaluated for it. Make him/her aware that you know they have other accounts and that you are comfortable with the account/queue you are applying for. You need to say this in a friendly and professional way, that is, if you have the courage. Remember that  YOU ARE BEING EVALUATED, say this only if you are willing to waste time, money, effort, and opportunity and that your need for the job is not paramount. If you are the type who REALLY needs a job, then why be choosy?

3. Learn how to holistically evaluate a job offer. It’s not just about the basic salary, it’s about establishing a career so you can have the money you are aiming for. Keep an open mind when the recruiter tells you that you are qualified for a different queue and will be evaluated for such. When you pass and are being offered a job, take a look at the culture of the company, the opportunities for promotion or side-movement (growth is not just up you know), the job itself, the company mission and vision, the basic pay, the health and welfare package, employee engagement, etc. If you need a day to decide, tell the recruiter. Be professional enough to call the recruiter the following day to advise him/her of your decision.

There are several reasons why you are not being offered the job you are gunning for:

1. You are not qualified for it.

2. You are over-qualified.

3. Your asking is too high.

4. No more vacancy.

5. You are fit for another account.

Only accept a job that you think will be beneficial for you IN THE LONG RUN (not just because you need to get paid ASAP). When you take on a job, you goal is not just to get paid but to develop a career, to look at retirement, and if the job isn’t something you know too well you will not like, there is no point in accepting it. If you decide to accept a job because napipilitan ka at kailangan mo talaga, learn to love that job by removing the mindset that the job is temporary. It’s really all about mindset. It’s also about being able to discipline yourself to be loyal to the company you work for.

 

Hope this helps.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, decision making, job offer, Regret Letter | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A thank you note from Paps

Posted by on June 15, 2013


3240_thank-youSeven,

It’s a blessing in disguise that your reply was late. I actually “paused for a moment” while waiting for your reply. The new Operations Manager (my former TL) talked to me and asked me if I do not have any feeling of reservations or regret regarding the resignation I just filed. She told me the very same thing you’ve written in your reply.

To cut the long story short, I retracted my resignation the next day. I told her I was inspired by her message and will follow her advise of striving better and moving up the ladder.

I now realize what I have in Teletech and though I was blinded by monetary gains “Basic Salary” ads in Jobstreet, the time I spent here in Teletech (2 years) is invaluable.

So there you go.  Thank you. I am grateful I found your Blog.

Paps

Below is the advice I gave him when he left a comment contemplating on resigning from Teletech after two years of working there:

 

Hi Paps.

I apologize for the late reply.

I’m sorry to hear that you are resigning from your work of almost two years simply because there is no yearly appraisal. I feel sad, however, that you look at your career/job solely for its monetary value. As what I have mentioned in this blog several times, work for the career, not for the money, when you have career, money follows.

I strongly recommend that you pause for a moment before you even think about making a decision to resign. For one, sayang ang almost two years of investment mo simply because you are trying to raise the amount of your basic salary. Many people have followed this strategy in the past and although it worked, you can see na pabarya-barya lang ang salary increases nila.

I am not in the position to tell you not to resign, however, I simply want to suggest to look at the value of your investment as a call center employee. You can always view your work experience as an investment for a possible career in Teletech. You can talk to your Team Leader about this aspiration and while you are waiting, continue to better yourself by building a better scorecard, being profesional, courteous, and studying how to acquire the ideal traits of someone who is promotable.

Finally, think about your accomplishments as a Teletech employee, ask yourself if you have been able to defeat all the challenges and become indispensable? You are top agent center-wide? You are trusted with responsibilities beyond your scope of work? And if you ask your bosses, would they recommend you for a higher post?

If your answer to the questions above questions are no or a half-hearted yes, then you have yet to work harder to achieve these worthwhile accomplishment.

Your manager’s perception of your readiness to achieve promotion is important. If your manager thinks you are not ready (provided you have a good relationship with him/her), then you need to work harder to improve your skills and competencies.

I apologize if I gave you a long reply, it’s just that I feel bad for people who thinks resignation is the only solution to achieve career and monetary advancement and they are willing to throw away an investment so valuable yet they think very little of it.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Thank you Paps.

Posted in Call Center, decision making, Job Hopping, job offer, resignation | Leave a Comment »

Top 10 Interview Question and How To Answer Them

Posted by on June 14, 2013


Originally posted on Ask Se7en:

If there is one thing I know about job interviews, it is this:  it is competency based. Interview questions are designed to determine if the candidate fits the posts by comparing his responses (along with his work experience) with the skills and comptencies required for a post.

Interview questions are not meant to be answered mindlessly, doing so would be a waste of opportunity, in fact, if you have read my previous blogs, I heavily encourage preparation (read: research), including finding out what the competencies required for the post are, attempting to determine what possible questions will be asked during the interview, AND preparing responses which the candidate must know and understand (but not memorize) and mix and match it based on the questions and scenarios asked during the interview.

What are the common interview questions and how best to answer them?

1. Tell me something about yourself. 

This is not an…

View original 1,187 more words

Posted in Call Center | Leave a Comment »

Why can’t they just tell me I failed the interview?

Posted by on April 12, 2013


job-search-fail-featured

I was just in the elevator with an applicant who was cursing our recruitment specialist for handing her a regret letter. She lamented that she’s been to five different call centers since this morning and all gave her the dreaded letter and because it was happening too often, she’s reached a point where she no longer cares and will keep applying until she is offered a job.

This is probably true for many applicants out there, people who are trying to get into the call center industry but has been facing one  failure after another, and the worst part? They have no idea why. Recruitment specialists are not and will never be obligated to tell you why you failed, they will just either give you the equally dreaded and mystifying “send home script” (“We will just call you in 48 hours. Don’t call us, we will call you.”) or give you the letter.

I admit, when I was a Recruitment Specialist, I didn’t have time to explain to every Tom, Dick, and Harry why they failed my interview. I was given a goal to meet – a class to fill (and usually ASAP), which means my eyes are tunnel-visioned on meeting that goal, notwithstanding the number of candidates who will fail. I get to deal with people who cry their way into the interview, telling me about the sad stories and life experiences why they needed a job, not to mention the number of people who threatened me for failing them.

The challenge for me was this: the company or the account has a very specific requirement and I need to match every applicant to their template, even if I wanted to help with all sincerity, either the applicant fails the training, or the production department or client blames me for “hiring the wrong people” resulting to a poor pass rate, language and product training-wise. My job was simple: I was a match-maker, and no sob stories will distract me from it, else, I was putting my job at risk.

In the morning, the first thing I check when I come in is the number of applicants waiting in the lobby, an indicator of how busy I will be for that day. Having been trained well to tell lies from facts and to interview well, I go through these applicants like a hot knife through butter, the only moment I pause was to appreciate an attractive applicant sans the flirting (try and you get fired if caught or reported). It’s all about match-making, and the only way I can go through hundreds of applicants is if I have a great exit strategy, this is where the regret letter or send home script come in.

In my case, having been familiar with these “send home scripts” or process, I apply a simple strategy and might I add that it’s foolproof, for me at least.  I do not wait for interview results, I’m able to tell if I passed or failed almost immediately.  How can I tell if I failed or passed?  I ask questions – not to the recruiter but to the other applicants who are done with the process (how long was the interview, what were the questions, was he or she advised of the next level, was he/she given a letter, etc). Also, I read the interviewer’s body language – believe me, after 20 years of working, more than half of which spent in the call center industry, you will develop an ability to recognize the behavior displayed by an interviewer (I especially like the robotic bitchy types and I dislike being interviewed by nice recruiters, you know,  the ones who smile a lot – they are harder to evaluate).   The second part of my job hunting strategy is the numbers – I apply in a lot of companies (a minimum of 20) in one location. As they say in radio ads for contests, “the more entries you send, the more chances of winning.”

I have read rants from forums written by frustrated applicants, wishing they would have been told of the interview result immediately. While I understand their frustration (as it’s irritating to wait for the unknown), I view it as an effort in futility. As I’ve said, getting told to wait for the call within 48 hours is a part of the process – that’s the only explanation you need and that’s the only thing you will get.

The way to work around this issue is to become creative.

First off, don’t apply for a job that you’re not qualified for, you will know this if you do your research – read the job ad and understand the core competencies required for the post. Assuming you know your own skills and competencies, the purpose of this exercise is for you to make an evaluation if you are fit for the job or not.

Second, prepare for the interview. Don’t just go there thinking you can wing it. Winging it is for tenured job hunters (who, more often than not, would fail if they happen to show too much confidence or says something in  a wrong way). Google is your friend, research these interview questions and find response templates – don’t be too lazy by just memorizing what you found. You need to be mindful of a recruiter’s skill – they can tell if you memorized your response or not, if it is sincere or not. Assimilate the format of the response and write your own, understand that the most effective response to an interview question is to tell your own story, your own perspective, coupled by your effort to sell your skill and competencies related to what the company is looking for.

Third, while waiting for your turn for the interview, turn to your seatmates, talk to them, ask questions. The goal is not just to flirt with them or make “chika”, it is to find out what process is being employed by the company for successful or failed candidates, this way, you will have a clue as to what fate you will have post-interview.

Fourth and last, try to judge the interviewers reactions, facial expressions, etc., AND if he/she asks you if you have any questions and you’re not able to tell if you passed or failed, say this: “I’m a newbie in the call center job hunting game.  I was wondering if you can tell me what my areas for improvement are, this way, I can better myself as a call center executive.” Watch his/her reaction. If he/she indulges, whip out your pen and paper and start writing. He may or may not tell you if you passed or failed but the items he will discuss are precious, so listen intently and learn.

Remember, an applicant who passes the interview will be immediately told of the next stage, usually, an endorsement (either to take a test, another interview, or the job offer). If you don’t get to hear the recruiter say this, you already know what it means. Now, if you have a strong feeling that you failed, don’t hang around.  Go to the next company in your list.

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Regret Letter | 8 Comments »

James Bond’s resignation letter

Posted by on April 12, 2013


james

Dear Seven,

I am a fresh graduate and have been working for a call center in Makati for about a year now. Lately, I’ve realized my true calling and have decided that I will resign from my call center agent post to pursue my ultimately dream. I was wondering if you can help me write a resignation letter. I’ve researched resignation letters in Google but I’m not happy with the way they sound. Your input will be much appreciated.

George

Dear George,

Thank you for your email and for visiting my blog.

Your questions reminds me of James Bond’s resignation letter in Casino Royale:

M – I hereby tender my resignation with immediate effect. Sincerely, James Bond.

Short and direct, isn’t it?

I recently received a two page resignation letter from one of my staff and I didn’t even bother to read it. Why? Because it had nothing but rants. A resignation letter should only have the following:

  1. Your intention to resign (and whether it’s irrevocable or not).
  2. The effectivity date.
  3. You can include the reason if it is positive (career move, going for your passion). If it’s negative, don’t bother.
  4. An offer to help (especially if the post you are about to vacate requires a turnover).

On your last day of work, don’t forget to write a short farewell letter to all the people you’ve worked with, it helps if you will leave a contact information because, let’s face it, most of our colleagues eventually become our friends.

Finally, based on your style of writing, I don’t think your challenge is what or how to write. You’re probably just looking for a better format, so I hope James Bond and I were able to help.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, resignation | Leave a Comment »

Termination, it starts and ends with you

Posted by on April 11, 2013


????????????????????????????????????????A very close friend and colleague of mine got terminated recently. It was a compendium of bad decisions after another, and eventually, when the HR process was applied, it resulted to the inevitable termination. When this news reached me, he has already incurred unexcused absences, forged a med-cert, and when the notice of hearing was sent out, Murphy’s Law played its part (one of his family members was in the hospital) and he failed to attend the meeting. Right then and there, a panel of Team Leaders and the HR representative decided that it was time to let him go.

In truth, I am very concerned for this friend of mine, plainly because his wife just had a baby (their first), and being a father and a husband myself, I know how it feels when you have your first-born – every single penny counts, not to mention the medical insurance provided by the company. The other part that concerns me greatly is the fact that we have been in this company for two years, as such, we have earned the mastery of what we do for the business – a veritable source of that elusive ability to negotiate a better pay or post in the next company. With the termination on his record, he will be forced to either hide the company from his resume, or if he decides to come forward with it, he will have to find a reason convincing enough for any recruiter to let him into the next step of the process, let alone offer him a job.

When one gets termed, everything becomes complicated.

As what I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, I’m not alien to termination. However, the difference between my case and the rest of the world was that I had documentation to justify my action. Therefore, come job hunting phase, I decided to tell the truth that my employment was severed on account of attendance issues.  The decision to tell the truth cost me several good companies, and when I finally got the job, it was the sweetest accomplishment.

Why did I tell the truth? A few things:

  • My skills and competencies are much too precious for me to hide.
  • I needed a better paying job and hiding the skills and competencies would mean I have to start from scratch (again).
  • I didn’t want the added stress of lying, and if found, getting terminated again.
  • I have the gift of gab, I’m known for talking my way out of difficult situations, not just because I have the skill for it, but because I can deliver.
  • My research has taught me how to create a positive spin on negative situations.

The job hunting part wasn’t easy. I got turned down several times and with these incidents piling, my bills were too, plus, I was receiving an immense pressure from my wife to land a job fast.  I was so tempted to rethink my strategy (of honesty), and on the very day that I decided to implement the lie, I decided that I will tell the truth one more time, and if I still fail, then I will tell a lie in the next company. Lo and behold, the recruiter and the hiring manager gave me a chance (and this isn’t one of those pipitsugin companies), and I was to start the following week.

A few things that I’ve learned in this experience and I’ve shared them with my colleague who got fired recently:

  1. Getting a job is harder than you think, therefore, if you already have one, be mindful of your attendance and overall performance. Notice that the company has several policies in place which are designed to “give you a chance” before you reach the termination phase. Depending on the company policy, you will be given coaching, then a verbal  warning, a written warning, suspension, then a hearing for the termination case. It takes several incidents for you to reach the last point, which means that it’s you who is at the helm here and your manager and the HR is merely completing the process which you started.
  2. Don’t ignore the HR process except when you’re trying to get fired (believe me, some people are stupid enough to aim for this). I’m talking about the Return to Work Order, the hearing, etc. The process is put in place to give you a chance to explain yourself and if the reason is grave enough to warrant a chance of retaining your job, then it’s a chance you don’t want to miss.
  3. When you foresee a situation which has the potential to affect your employment, immediately consult with your manager and the HR. Seek for opportunities which will allow you to lessen the impact – SL/VL/emergency leave or if there is a chance for you to go on an extended period of absence without losing your job, grab it. The objective is to keep your employment, at the same time addressing your personal issues at home. It is true that you need to separate personal with work issues, but some work-affecting issues (illness, family conflict, etc) must be known, at the least, by your manager. He or she needs to understand what is going on in your personal life so he will not judge you unfairly.
  4. Don’t fake illnesses, or the documents for it. Companies are now smart and diligent enough to check with hospitals, clinics, and they will verify if you actually used your HMO card.

Remember, getting terminated from your job isn’t something that your manager or your company would wish to happen to you. They trained you, they invested on you, and they are concerned about their attrition, hence, it is imperative that they give you several chances to change your bad behavior. Therefore, getting terminated from your job is actually a decision you are making, little by little, with your actions. Your manager’s function is to keep a record of and manage  your behavior at work. As soon as you cross the line, the process starts.  It starts and ends with you.

Posted in AWOL, Call Center, Clearance/Exit Interview, Job Hopping, resignation, return to work order, terminated | 4 Comments »

Return to Work Order (AWOL Case)

Posted by on February 26, 2013


absence%20missing%20work%20hiding%20phone 

Dear Seven,

I’ve been working for a call center in Makati for about seven months now. About two weeks ago, I had to go to the province to attend to something personal (but non-medical) emergency. I have tried to file a leave of absence for this occurrence since it will take more than 7 days, however, only three days got approved, the rest were all tagged as unauthorized. Truth is, I don’t understand why it’s getting declined. I have received numerous (intentionally) missed calls from my manager and a few others from a landline (I’m assuming our HR), and since all were ignored by me, I recently received a Return to Work Order.

In truth, I still want to come back to work but I am afraid of the consequences. At the same time, I am embarrassed because I do not know what has been discussed with my colleagues. Your inputs will be much appreciated.

Arthur Dimahilig

Dear Arthur,

First off, I’m glad to know that you’re still interested to return to work – this is exactly what you should be doing.

Second, being a call center Team Leader, let me also touch on why part of your leave applications got declined:

  1. It has something to do with workforce management – their primary concern is to make sure that abandoned calls are minimized if not totally avoided (since some centers get fined for this, while others are simply trying to avoid impacting their Service Level Agreement (SLA) – the contract between the center and the client it is serving) to make sure that the client is retained, satisfied, and can and will offer a repeat business). 
  2. Filing of VLs is always contingent on a few things:  (a) You should have the VL credits, hindi pwede ang utang, (b) It should be planned, (c) Other policies – in some centers, each team is alloted a specific number of headcount allowed to file for a leave on any given day. (d) If you are to ask for an extension for the VL, you need to have a veritable reason to justify the approval.

The email you sent me did not detail the reason as to why you filed the VL and requested for an extension (it must be that personal that you could not talk about it), and since I do not have enough information to go on, I too would have declined your request. Understand this: despite the many policies and procedures, your TL (depending on his or her leadership orientation) can and will make an exception, granting he has the reason(s) to justify his decision.

Now to the first point. In order to resolve this problem, the first thing you need to do is to heed the Return to Work order. NEVER IGNORE IT. A Return to Work Order is a part of the process and it is triggered when an employee is absent from work for several days without authorization (ergo, AWOL).  When you report for work, you will be facing a panel and here, you will be required to explain your side; from your explanation, the panel (usually composed of an HR representative and several team leaders or managers) will decide whether you deserve to be given a chance, written up, suspended, or terminated. Again, the decision of the panel is based on the gravity of the offense (and how good your explanation is), or how it impacted the business is/was, or (as an example) if you are showing a pattern in your attendance, etc. The hearing (and speaking) is your avenue to defend yourself, this is exactly why you should not ignore the process.

What are the possible scenarios for heeding the RTWO?

1. You get a coaching log – this is fine, it’s often just a record that you have been advised not to do it again, although it will become part of your 201 File.

2. You are given a written warning – although a little higher in degree compared to a coaching log (just a verbal warning oftentimes), this is still fine. It will still become a part of yoru 201 File.

3. You get suspended – this is bad. Suspension is without pay, it hurts your 201 File, and you will be given a prescription period where you cannot be absent or late. It’s still fine.

4. You are asked to resign – this is bad, of course because you will lose your job, but you can use your experience, skills, and competencies earned from the company to find yourself another job – who knows, you might get a better paying gig after you resigned simply because of your experience.

5. You are fired – this is very bad, naturally because you lose your job, you will have second thoughts in declaring your company in your resume, making you lose your opportunity to find a better paying job, and your skills and experiences are reset to its previous level (sometimes to zero).

When you are faced with scenario number 5, depending on the gravity of the situation and if you have the bargaining chip, you can negotiate with the panel to just let you resign, but I have to admit, this is easier said than done.

Ignoring the RTWO automatically triggers the next phase – the Termination Letter. Here, you will have no choice but to accept your fate. The HR and the panel members will still convene despite your absence and will be forced to make a decision to set you free since you have ignore your avenue to explain yourself. In their mind, you are no longer interested to continue your employment, hence, the termination. What a waste of opportunity!

Now therefore, your company is reaching out to you (several times) despite your unauthorized absence, don’t ignore it (call them, now na!). Mahirap ang walang trabaho sa panahon ngayon. Go there, face them, and explain your side – explain it well. Talk to your Team Leader and ask for help and advice. Perhaps, depending on your relationship with your TL, he will be able to give you a gem or two on how to survive this ordeal.

Finally, I don’t think it matters what your teammates are thinking about, what matters here is you keep your job, not only for continued subsistence but for career development as well.

Let me know if this has helped you, and do visit the blog again for an update.

Thanks.

Se7en

Posted in AWOL, Call Center, decision making, resignation, return to work order, terminated | 5 Comments »

CSR: A glorified operator

Posted by on February 22, 2013


Dear Seven,

Why do they make it so hard to get into the call center industry? Ang simple lang naman ng trabaho, all one has to do is to talk to a customer. How hard can that be?

Albert

Dear Albert,

I had to suppress my laughter when I read your email, not because I found your question amusing but because it reminded me of my own mindset when I was still a newbie. I found it ridiculous that I could not land a job in an industry whose task is nothing more than to talk – “a glorified operator” sabi nga ng marami.

My opinion about the call center work drastically changed when I got my first real job as an outbound sales agent, it’s not just about talking, it’s about having the skill to relate to a perfect stranger, it’s about establishing rapport, and letting the customer see the product your way so that you can easily close the sale, and what’s even more challenging is how to keep that customer on the phone after he realized that you are a sales agent. When I worked for an inbound account (Dell, Ambergris), I realized that another skill was needed – customer service. It’s a pretty common term used loosely by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, but when you look into its application in the call center setting, it is not just an art or a skill, it is a philosophy.

When you are in the call center industry, it is given that you need to be able to talk, but talking is a basic function. The deeper concept lies in being able to deliver a message with confidence, to be able to listen well without prejudice, and to provide a solution to the problem of the customer and doing it on just one call (FCR or First Call Resolution). It gets more complicated when you are talking to a succession of irate customers, not to mention the number of people who will curse on you even if it wasn’t your fault. After all, being in the front line,  you represent the company.

Depending on the account, call center reps has to be analytical and they must have intelligence. Gone are the days when the call center agent’s job is to transfer a call to another or to merely provide a phone number and connect the call. Nowadays, training for, say, financial accounts lasts anywhere between two to three months, inclusive of the language training, the product, process, systems, terminologies, and the OJT period, and as if the training period isn’t arduous enough, you need to pass a series of evaluations for you to be endorsed to the operations department. I recall my teammates crying when our trainer from HSBC joked that they didn’t make the cut.

When you get to the floor, and take your first call, YOU WILL FORGET EVERYTHING YOU LEARNED in training. In fact, the very first inbound call I took, I messed up the customer’s account so bad that my trainer (who was sitting beside me) had to call in an expert to fix it. Also, I recall during training, there was a call scenario that all of us dreaded because to receive that call would mean you have to apply not just one but several processes in order to fix the problem, lo and behold, this was my very first call and since I froze, the SME (Subject Matter Expert) sitting beside me said “Seven, just release the call…just this once”.

Then, there’s the scorecard. For any normal human being who worked for other industries who was never measured in such a fashion, a scorecard can be a daunting reality. The first time they show you the scorecard, you will begin to realize that everything you do in this industry is being measured, just ask any call center agent and they will tell you how difficult it is to maintain a balance scorecard, in the same token, tenured call center rep can also teach you how to play with it.

To say it is easy to be a call center agent is an understatement. Many of my friends who tried to work in this industry found themselves quitting just after a few months, or even days for a few, that is why some of my former colleagues in the media often ask me how I managed to achieve success in this industry. My answer? Simple. I love what I do here. It’s never enough to learn how to talk, you need to acquire several skills in order to become an effective and successful call center agent. 

I’d like to encourage you to try working for the call center industry, when you’re in, let us know how it is.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Customer Service | 2 Comments »

Failed in 11 call center interviews…help!

Posted by on February 21, 2013


Head in Hands

Dear Seven,

I’ve been reading your posts from Pinoyexchange.com and I have to admit, you seem knowledgeable on the aspect of getting into the call center industry. Well, here goes. I just arrived from the province some two weeks ago and in that short period, I have been to 11 different call centers, and so far, I haven’t passed any. Out of 11, 6 “big” call centers failed me in the initial interview, and 5 companies dumped me during the final interview. I can’t seem to understand why I’m failing. The bad part about is I don’t get any feedback from the recruiters – they always seem to be so in a hurry to hand over the regret letter. It’s depressing me because I’m running out of options, money, and time. Any advice? Btw, I read in your blog that you are a Bicolano too. I am from  Tabaco, Albay.

Alex

Dear Alex,

Your desire to continue despite 11 rejections is truly admirable, I would have given up on the 5th attempt but you just kept going.

First things first. you need to understand that the initial interview in a call center is nothing more than a measurement of your communication skills. Therefore, your failure is an indication that you need to check your comms.

Before I joined the call center industry, I was a radio jock for 5 and a half years, and because my English-speaking ability is self-taught, I have to admit, I needed formal training. This is why my first three attempts in the call center industry were a complete failure. I had consistent problems with

  • pronunciation: Th (soft and hard), p/F, b/V
  • wrong accent on the wrong syllable
  • diction
  • Filipinoism (transliteration)
  • Grammar

Tip: Call center recruiters are heavily trained in listening for consistent problems in grammar, diction, pronunciation, accent, and intonation.

In the blog entitled Learning English The Hard Way, I shared that it took me six months to fix how I spoke (not so much with how I write, so please bear with the grammar problems here). I really wanted to become a DJ so I took it upon myself to learn how to speak English properly. Therefore, it was not difficult for me to determine what I needed to improve on. I wasn’t ready for the big call centers, but since I needed a job, I took on an outbound sales account in a small, humid, boiler room call center in Mandaluyong, aside from earning, I needed an opportunity hone my speaking skills, this time, with proper direction. My American Team Leader noticed my strong desire to learn so he coached me on the many aspects of American pronunciation, told me repeatedly to “listen to myself”, and fined me for every transliteration I commited. It was fun. Too, he invested time and effort in teaching me about the concepts of “customer service” in the call center setting.

Which leads me to my next point: customer service. Many accounts in the call center industry are tedious, you can ask anyone who has handled a telco, financial, or a tech support account and they will not hesitate to tell you that the only way they survived is they had a complete understanding of customer service (theory or practice). My suspicion is that you may have ventured into the call centers whose accounts require a heavy background in customer service, hence, the failure.

Please understand that recruiters are matchmakers. Their company, client, or account has a very specific demand for what type CSR can best serve them and only those who matches the said profile will get the job offer. This is why my constant advocacy in this blog is to always prepare for an interview, that means you need to read and understand the job requirement, research about the company, find out their business and customer base, and prepare answers to interview questions and let someone knowledgeable evaluate your responses for you.

This preparation is also true for the final interview, you fail mostly because you are unprepared for the questions, therefore, the secret to winning this battle is to jot down possible questions and prepare responses for them. Do not expect for all the questions to come out, but when your list or something similar is asked, you won’t be caught off guard. It’s never really about memorizing the answers, it’s about understanding them and mixing and matching them depending on the question being asked.

Here are  a few tips when you are preparing your responses to these interview questions:

  1. Every open-ended question is an opportunity to sell your skills and competencies, so do not fall short on mentioning them.
  2. Flaunt accomplishments that are related to the post you are applying for.
  3. Help the recruiter see that your experiences are matched to the  job requirements, if this is not the case, then exhibit the skills and competencies you have learned which can be useful for the said post.

The Final Interview is where everything becomes tricky. Recruiters use what they call “Targeted Selection”, it is an interview method that determines your past behaviors and the basic precept here is what you are in the past is what you will be in the future. Most of the questions are open-ended and would start with something like “Tell me about the time when…” or “Can you tell me about an experience when you…” My suggestion here is to Google these types of questions and prepare an answer for each of them.

Again, remember two things: recruiters are matchmakers, AND they are trying to determine if you have the skills and competencies required by the post. Therefore, if you say “I’m sorry I have no experience in that aspect” in a Behavioral Interview, you are basically telling the recruiter that you are not qualified for the posts and deserves to receive the reg. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

I hope this helps. Btw, I am from Daraga, Albay.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Customer Service, Regret Letter | 4 Comments »

I don’t like the account I’m in, help!

Posted by on February 20, 2013


stress-call-center-job

Dear Seven,

I am a newbie in the call center industry. Right now, I am working for an outbound sales account  and to be honest, I find it really hard to sell. You can just say that selling is not one of my skills yet. When I applied at this company, I specifically told the recruiter that I wanted a non-voice account, she told me that although they have such an account within, there was no vacancy. Because I needed a job, I decided to accept the offer for the outbound sales job. Now, I feel like I’m stuck. Help!

Robin Magnaye

Dear Robin,

Thank you for your email. When I began working in the call center industry some ten years ago, I also started in a sales account, AND, I felt the same way as you do now. Back then, I did not know the difference between these so-called  “accounts” so I ended up selling timeshare for a Colorado-based resort to patrons in California. I also have to share the fact that being a forme DJ in the FM band, I have no background in sales, therefore, the job was an absolute nightmare.

First off, you need to recognize the basic fact that YOU HAVE A JOB. Millions out there are struggling to find one even as we speak. That was the first consolation I had then because just like you, I also needed a job. I could not change the situation so I changed my mindset. I spoke to my Team Leader and asked for her guidance.

My dilemma was simple: I found it hard to sell because I did not have the skill to do so, simple as that. My Team Leader took time in analyzing the way I approached the customer, the tone and quality of my voice, how I was pitching the product, and how I was closing the sale. Furthermore, she made me sit beside the top sellers and made me observe their manner of selling. After each listening session, I would log back in, try the approach, customized it a little so it would fit me, then do an evaluation thereafter. It took me about two weeks to learn how to properly sell. I survived that account for six months and raked as much commission as I can during my short stint.

What’s the bottom line here? Find your weakness and find the solution to it.

I’m saying this because I think at the back of your mind, you are planning to resign. You’re probably thinking that because you did not get what you wanted (the back office account), you are unproductive. What you fail to see here is the challenge, the opportunity to improve your skills and competencies. My take on this? It’s not the job that’s stopping you from selling or learning how to sell, it is your mentality towards your job, you are still wanting to get that “other” job and you probably feel betrayed that you are not able to.

I’m not saying you should not get the back office job (if there is a vacancy, why not?), what I am saying is, since you do not have an opportunity to get what you want yet, why not make the most of your stay and BE THE ACCOUNT’S TOP SELLER? Is it hard? Yes! But is it possible? Yes! AND, while you are mastering the art of selling, on the side, be open for possibilities – not just towards the back office work, but for a better career within that same company that you are already working for.

I don’t encourage jumping from one company to another but I would encourage you to keep your focus, be the master of what you are doing now, and when you become one, you earn the bragging rights because despite the insurmountable challenges you’ve had, you emerged as the victor. When the opportunity for what you want presents itself, then, don’t hesitate evaluate your choices.

Never quit because of a discomfort, quit because you are no longer challenged and you are ready for far greater responsibilities.

Hope this helps you, Robin.  Let me know how else I can help.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Handling, Customer Service, internal promotion, Job Hopping, resignation | Leave a Comment »

Tell me your AWOL story…

Posted by on January 18, 2013


This is an opportunity for everyone who went on AWOL to tell their own story. Tell us what happened prior to the AWOL, how it happened, what you did, what experiences (bad or good) did you have after the AWOL, if you landed a job or not, and what challenges did you face as an applicant.

Your feedback will be much appreciated

Posted in Call Center, decision making, Job Hopping, job offer, resignation, terminated | Tagged: | 45 Comments »

My take on job hopping

Posted by on November 3, 2012


I got curious so I started reading the thread on www.pinoyexchange.com called  Call Center Hopper Milestone.  The terms “hopper” and “milestone” being used in one sentence threw my mind into a loop and just thinking about it gave me a migraine.

One part of my brain was trying to convince me to leave the thread-starter be, the other part (the more conscienctious one) was coaxing me to write what I truly felt. Perhaps it’s my perception of things, I associate ‘milestones’ with accomplishments and ‘hopping’ is linked to having a bad case of a misguided career, hence, the internal debate.

Truth is, I’m not alien to job hopping. Yes, I’ve had my share of misguided hops when I was a newbie because apart from the act being a trend,  my naivete, foolishness, and insatiability were all  looking for a stable career, bigger pay, and better benefits – the goal was desirable but the methodology sucked big time.

First, there was the wrong impression about the call center industry – that it’s blue collar, it has no career, and it’s all about the money.  This justified that fact that I needed to hop from one company to another. 

Second, was the experience that supported the above fallacy. I was working with highly demotivated and misguided people whose perception of the job was too close  to my own belief. It was like ambling on a “No Loitering” zone and because we didn’t have much to do, doing it looked like fun.

Third, the first few  companies I worked for were mostly unreliable and seemed unconcerned about their employees, this is all to common in watering hole call centers. I resented the fact that I was nothing more than an employee ID who came and went and made no impact on the company’s present or future. If all my contributions made an impact, the inept leaders in that company made sure I never felt it, which made coming and  going significantly easy.

Finally, there was the lack of direction, low pay, dismissable benefits, dismal working conditions, unhealthy environment, stress, boredom, foolish, self-center, egotistical but inept supervisors ….and I figured, if I had to go through all these, might as well make it worth my while, that is, find a company that pays a little better the previous, until I’m able to find happiness and satisfaction. Several years later, I was unhappy, unsatisfied, and still searching.

My wake up call happened when I became a Team Leader/recruitment manager/Trainer (this was my official title and don’t ask why). I realized a few things about job hopping and overall, my work in the call center industry.

  1. That it was not a dead-end job – there is a career, but I needed a different perspective to see that it was a game of numbers and failing to play it like it is meant that I will lose the opportunity for a better paying gig.
  2. That if I wanted to matter, I needed to play where the game was played, and that is by improving my scorecard because it is what levels the playing field and gives me that fighting chance to vie for higher posts, thus, better pay, etc.
  3. That job hopping was forcing me to hide my other companies (because of the short tenure), in effect, it robs me of the opportunity to negotiate for a better pay, because like it or not, the skill sets I have developed with the previous companies  – on paper – goes back to zero. Even if I pride myself of the years of experience in customer service, job hopping made it all irrelevant.

Can anyone be blamed for job hopping? Definitely not. My years of experience tells me that the phenomena help me mature as a call center professional, albeit, I have to admit that the years I  wasted could have been better if I knew what I know now.  One thing that I am glad though is I have found myself working in a company who cares, who has focus on its people, and who sincerely helps develop careers – I wouldn’t have found this company had it not been for hopping.  Then again, this is where cognitive dissonance happens – I’m trying to objectify my years of being misguided.

Therefore, a message to the new graduates and first timers in the call center industry: DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Call center hopping is no fun (see above reason). Getting a job anywhere isn’t just about the salary, it’s about developing a career, expanding your horizon within that company, and maximizing the skills and competencies development so that when the time comes for your to feel the need for progress, you are armed to the teeth. Avoid the “barya-barya” mentality for salary increases. When you evaluate a job, don’t just look at the salary alone – it’s true that money counts, but job satisfaction and career development within the right company is what should matter. Learn how to evaluate a job offer by studying all of it’s angles (See http://sevenh8reds.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/472/) – bottom line, DON’T SELL YOURSELF CHEAP.

Question is, newbie or not, can you be a game changer?

Posted in Call Center, decision making, Job Hopping, job offer | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

That elusive call center job…a letter from Ace.

Posted by on November 2, 2012


Hi Seven,

Just call me Ace. I’m so happy to read all the tips here in your blog. Gusto ko din mag work sa call center but I have some questions to ask. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I always fail in my previous application. It’s a shame coz I almost got a perfect score of 10 failures!
My first application was in this company in Magallanes, the reason why I chose the company is coz I have a friend who’s currently working there. Well, I passed  the initial interview, online assessment, and  the final interview with the OM, but I failed the Versant exam!  Kakainis.. I’m had it. I don’t know if it’s because I got tired of the whole day process or just my poor grammar. Can you give me tips on how to improve my grammar and comm. skills? Actually, Im kinda confident that I have the skills but it’s just that whenever I converse in English I always end beign redundant, and I stammer. Please help me.

Then I tried to apply at a company in Shaw. I passed the initial interview which only lasted for about 10minutes. After hours of waiting, at almost 5pm, the interviewer asked me to come back by 9pm for the final interview. I told her that I needed to travel to Laguna, so I asked her to resched me for the next day, I was allowed, fortunately. To make to story short, I also failed to online exam,  however, the HR told me that they will consider me for another account. On the 3rd day, I came back for the final interview again with the Account Manager. After that, he told me that someone from recruitment  will contact me if  about the result. It’s been a 2 days and I have yet to hear from them. I don’t know where I stand so please give me some advice. Sorry if my grammar is not so good. Your reply to this letter will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!

Ace

Dear Ace,

Thank you for visiting my blog, I’m happy to know that it’s helping you. Ahead of time, I must apologize for the delay in the response, aside from the technical problems I’ve had (thanks to Globe), it took me a while to decide if I will serve you a smorgasbord of information or just answer your question, you will see what I decided on below.

I’m also glad that you have found interest in working in the call center industry, and had it not been for the handsome compensation and benefits offered by this industry, I would have asked you “are you sure?” This industry is one of the most stressful and challenging job you can find and if you don’t have what it takes, you’ll be up for one rollercoaster ride. I’ve seen and heard of people who tried and left simply because they realized they do not have the patience to deal with the repetitiveness of the job.

Still interested despite the negative review? Read on.

Getting into the call center industry is not that difficult, that is, if you know what they are looking for. In the beginning, call centers in the Philippines were only looking for graduates from good schools (to the chagrin of its professors) since these students were classified as “near-native” English speakers. As the number of these candidates dwindled, the call center industry’s stiff requirements began to relax, undergraduate candidates with “neutral accent” were welcomed.  When this population began to thin ( largely because of the influx of more call centers competing for this market), recruiters shifted their attention to candidates with a “trainable” English, these are candidates who are able to correct themselves despite inconsistent errors in grammar or pronunciation. Call Centers addressed this issue by simply creating a structured communications skills training specifically geared at repairing these issues.

I am sharing this bit of history because nowadays, when you have “trainable” English skills, you get hired. Call centers provide English skills improvement with refresher in grammar, emphasis on pronunciation and accent neutralization, and a special focus on stellar customer service, US culture and geography, etc.  Having said this, to fail in a call center interview means either you have a consistent grammar and pronunciation problem that a weeklong training cannot fix, or you did poorly in answering the questions.

Suffice it to say that your foot in the door is your good command of English, have a flawless one and you easily gain access to this coveted job, have a weak one and you will face failure after failure. Therefore, allow me to share the following:

  • Get yourself evaluated by someone qualified (a person who speaks fluent English and is familiar with grammar, has a neutral accent and is a natural with pronunciation), this way you will be made aware of your areas for improvement/focus. Once evaluated, ask for help in creating a learning program, stick to it.
  • If you don’t have anyone who can help, enroll in an English skills  enhancement program (TESDA has excellent training programs tailor-made for call center agent applicants, best of all, IT’S FREE!!!).
  • Read this Blog. It can help you pick up a few tips related to the first bullet (learning program)
  • Speak and Think in English 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Listen to American movie.  Play it, pause it, imitate. Don’t stop until you know you’re pronouncing it right.
  • Listen to yourself while you are speaking in English, this way, you can correct yourself when you make mistakes.
  • It’s ok to make a mistake so long as you correct yourself.
  • Stop watching telenovelas and quit listening to bakya radio stations, they are pure garbage and carries no learning value towards your goal to learn to speak in English.
  • You have a recorder on your smart phone? Use it to record your voice and evaluate your progress. It’s ok if you make mistakes, try again (and again).
  • Read, read, and read.
  • Expand your vocabulary by memorizing 5 words daily and use it in a sentence – they will be yours forever. If you encounter an unknown word, don’t sleep unless you know what it means.

The last two bullets addresses your question about stammering. In  my experience, there are about  five  instances why a person would stammers (a) you are born with it, (b) you are talking too fast and your mouth can’t catch up with your thoughts, and (c) you are translating  Filipino to English and, in the process, are grasping for words,  (d) you are unsure about your translations, and (e) you are too nervous.

Most of the above mentioned reasons are fixable. To start with, having a wide vocabulary is the best weapon against grasping for words, this is why back in high school (and elementary) our teachers and parents bugged us to memorize five words from the dictionary, and to use it in a sentence (not necessarily when talking to anyone). Also, having a good foundation for grammar means you don’t have to wonder if what you’re saying is right, ergo, a more fluid, conversational English.  A caveat though, thinking in English is not a guarantee that you will be speaking it correctly,  sans the grammar issue,  or if you’re not familiar with Filipinoisms you will not be understood by the American customers you serve.

Besides your English communication skills, the key to passing a call center interview is preparation. Many applicants I’ve interviewed in the past “hoped” to get the job, only very few admitted they “prepared” for it. Truth is, getting a job in this industry does not need luck for it is hungry for more and more qualified candidates.  What do I mean by “preparation”?

  • Read and understand the skills and competencies required the post.
  • Make a comparison – do you possess the skills and competencies required? If yes, proceed with the application, if none move to the next available post. Bottom-line, you are looking for a job which would have a positively satisfying career path for you. Notice that I didn’t say “compensation”, I said “career”.
  • Create a resume tailor-fitted to the position you are applying for. Generic resumes are a no-no.

Once you have read the skills and competencies required for the post, the next step is  going to be tricky, it will require patience and a lot of research and writing. Here’s why: recruiters are using TARGETED SELECTION to evaluate candidate competencies based on their past behavior in order to hire the right people for a given job (definition lifted from www.job-interview-site.com).

This is where bullet number two matters, you need to make a comparison of your skills and competencies and write down specific situations in the past  work experiences which exhibits the  required behavior. Below are sample Targeted Selection questions:

  • Tell me about a time when you used your initiative.
  • Describe a time when you communicated with a customer successfully.
  • Give me an example of your ability to solve problems.
  • Describe a difficult decision you made recently.

As part of your research, I would strongly recommend using Google/Bing/Yahoo to find these questions AND most importantly, preparing answers for them. This is a part of the exercise that most applicants tend to neglect, in effect, they come to the interview unprepared. After all, to prepare is to win half the battle.

Your challenge now is to prepare sound answers to these questions, and the only advice that I can give is  don’t hesitate to search for sample answers online and customize them to your skills and competencies. Just remember:  you are job hunting. You are preparing for an interview and the obvious objective is TO GET THE JOB, therefore, your answers to the questions should  be geared towards showcasing your skills and competencies –  to help the recruiter see that you are fit for the post.

Finally, don’t hesitate to make a follow-up especially that it’s been a few days since your interview, no harm  in doing so. You can pay their office a visit, but it is best to just give the recruiter a phone call.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Customer Service | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Went on AWOL, can I still get my clearance and back pay?

Posted by on September 12, 2012


Hi Seven,

Your blog is exceptional! I appreciate it because it’s especially dedicated to us call center agents. I do have a question though. I have been absent for 4days in the cc that am working for and I have already exceeded my occurrence points since my first day of being absent. I have already told my supervisor that I want to resign, however she didn’t let me, that’s kind of the reason I was absent til now since I really cannot go to work anymore because of personal reasons. I don’t know if it’s already considered AWOL, since I don’t know the grounds. My question is, if that will be declared as AWOL, will I be able to get my back pay and will I be cleared from the company? Your response will be highly appreciated. Thanks! :)

Dear Ivy,

Thank you for the positive review. Nakaka-taba ng puso ang appreciation mo.

Your situation happened to me (and I’m sure with a few others) a few years ago, also because of  an urgent personal reason. In fact, I also asked the very same question you posed here.

I’m not familiar with your company’s attendance policy and procedure so I cannot assume anything at this point, however, it is clear to me that you need a clean exit, and that you need you get your back pay.

Your manager is obligated  to decline your resignation to lessen, if not totally avoid attrition, and since you can no longer report for work and that your manager refuses to accept your application, my suggestion at this point is to communicate with your HR in an attempt to negotiate a clean exit. In a way, your resignation becomes an “appeal” on account of your personal reason. After all, it behooves you to process your clearance in case you decide to seek employment elsewhere in the near future.  If this approach  fails, then HR will tag you as AWOL and terminate you. You will still be able to get your back pay, albeit without the exit clearance.

Not processing your clearance complicates your situation. You now have to decide whether you want to declare your previous company or not, and if you do, how will you twist your story (during the interview) to make the idea of getting terminated (for whatever reason) acceptable. If  you do not declare your previous company, you now have to justify why you have such an expansive gap between now and your last employment – recruiters are watchful about these gaps, and will focus on the issue until they are able to determine the facts, and if found that you absconded, you lose the chance of getting the job.

The thing about not declaring a previous company is this: it resets your skill set to zero, and your experience, a few notches down, which means you lose the opportunity to negotiate a better salary. Magkakaroon ka nga ng salary increase, pa barya-barya lang.

Let’s assume for a second that you get a new job, you now worry that the current company will unravel your secret when you finally submit your BIR and SSS record. Here, they will be able to check your actual work history (not your contributions though), cross-check it with your resume, and if inconsistencies are found, the new company will terminate you too, that is, if they are big on integrity; smaller companies who have massive attrition and are therefore manpower-hungry don’t give too much weight on this.

I realize that have expanded my response to your comment, that I covered the consequences of not declaring a company. I did it because your situation is not new to me and to a lot of people. In fact, I get emails about this issue almost daily.

The bottom line is that, in more ways done one, it is more complicated if you do not declare your company. I surely hope you will be able to negotiate a clean exit with your HR department. Do let me know if you have more questions. Thanks.

Se7en

Posted in AWOL, Back Pay, Call Center, Clearance/Exit Interview, return to work order, terminated | Tagged: , , , | 67 Comments »

Understanding hard to understand customers

Posted by on September 11, 2012


Hi. this is Jason, and I’m new in this kind of industry.

I was actually searching on how to improve my listening skills, when I was re-directed to this site – and this blog is really amazing!  Sana nabasa ko ito bago pa ako mag-apply sa call center. Great tipS. :)

Well, I’m not really good in communications; I even had “tremors” during the interview haha (: that’s why I’m really overwhelmed that i passed the recruitment process of that company.

I’m now on the training period. and there was a time when we were asked to listen to some calls. I think the “technical stuff” are not really much of my problem – we will know them if we study the account well. however, I am not able to understand the “concerns” of some of the customers, because there is something in the way they speak that I cannot comprehend. That really made me down. :( one of my colleagues told me that they are the “black americans”, and that I will just get used to it.

I am still under probationary period – I will get fired if i didn’t pass the requirements. so I really have to exert an extra effort on this thing. I wrote to ask you a favor – to share some “what to do” stuff, regarding this issue so I would be able to understand them easily. I googled some videos but, I still find their words difficult to understand.

They said that most of the customers in that account speak in that manner. so, I am really worried about that. and I don’t know what to do. :(

Thank you. and I’m hoping for your response..

Dear Jason,

Thank you for leaving a comment and for visiting my blog. I can’t tell you how happy I am to learn that my blog serves you well.

I decided to create a post out of your comment because, truth is, I was also in the same situation as a newbie. In fact, I have yet to encounter a first timer who did not have a problem comprehending what clients are/were trying to say.

First, an observation: newbies are often overly critical of their weaknesses, overall, their performance. I think this happens because, as what you have said, being a probationary employee one is doing his best to survive the learning curve, pass his scorecard and keep the job. On top of this, there is the pressure to learn the product, the systems, tools, processes, procedures, call handling, the art of customer service, etc. Too, a few days or weeks on the floor feels like forever, and since you are surrounded by tenured reps who doesn’t seem to have any problems understanding what customers are saying (or dealing with all the other issues related to being a call center employee), you can’t help but compare yourself to them and feel wanting.

In the middle of all this haze, one thing a newbie forgets is to give himself proper credit, that is, he is a newbie,  as such he is given a learning curve. Most centers encourage making (calculable) mistakes during this period (except for HSBC who taught me to do it right the first time), hence, the newbie must learn to re-focus his energy to learn the ropes instead of worrying about the little things.

While it is true that some customers are hard to understand, it is also true that there are steps provided during your training to solve this problem, one such technique is RE-STATING THE ISSUE.

An effective re-state allows you to be in sync with the customer’s mind, it also provide you the opportunity to think of an effective way to zero-in on the problem, consequently, allowing you to provide an accurate solution to the customer’s dilemma. A word of caution though, a re-state is not parroting the customer statement, it is rephrasing what he said, in a way, using your own words to ensure that you understand the bottom line of what he or she is calling about.

In quality assurance, most call centers include re-stating the issue as a measured item within the call, after all, misunderstanding the issue will lead to a wrong recommendation, probably resulting in a repeat call, or worst, an escalation.

The problem, however, is when a customer is calling about an issue that is so simple that it no longer requires a re-state. Below is an example:

Customer: Hello. I’m calling because I can’t access the portal, I need a password reset.
Rep: (following the required re-state) Let me see if I understand this correctly, you are calling because you are unable to access the portal and you need help in resetting password, am I correct?
Customer: Duh, that’s just what I said.

As a call center agent, I feel embarrassed that I have to re-state an issue so simple that it makes me sound absolutely stupid, however, because QA requires it, I have no choice but to follow, else, I lose points. Personally, I am obsessed with seeing 100s in my QA report, therefore, I thought of a way to work around the issue.

Note: Normally, after a re-state, you are also required to say “I’ll be happy to help you with (insert reason for the customer’s call here)“. Please try to avoid saying “I’ll be more than happy”, it’s so canned, so fake, so wrong, and it makes you sound mental.

Our approach to the asinine scenario above is hybrid, a combination of the re-state and the “I will be happy to” statement. For example: “Not problem Mr. Smith, I will be happy to reset the password for you so you can gain access to the portal.” The approach hits two birds with one stone – you re-stated the issue AND you gave the “happy to help” phrase, assuring the customer that you understood the issue, and that you will help him, at the same time passing the said step in your QA score sheet.

Overall, the objective of the re-state is to make you, as a CSR handling the case, understand what the real issue is. This is why you need to seek validation by getting the agreement from the customer (“Let me see if I understand this correctly, you are calling because you are unable to access the portal and you need help in resetting password, AM I CORRECT?“). Customers will not hesitate to correct you if they think they were misunderstood, after all, they are calling to get an issue resolved. In case there is a correction from the customer, re-state the issue one more time, or several times if needed, especially if the customer has tons of “pasakalye.”

Finally, it is normal for you to feel anxious about not understanding the customer, but do not put too much weight on it, even tenured reps find some customers difficult to comprehend, and this is where we effectively use the re-state technique to get to the bottom line. One day, as your keep taking in calls, you will attain a level of mastery where you will be able to deduce what the customer needs just by listening to specific keywords or by looking at the customer’s account. You will get so good at this that you will have to worry about something else…boredom.

Hope is helps.

Se7en

Posted in Call Center, Call Handling, Customer Service | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

We will call you within 24 to 48 hours…then what?

Posted by on August 21, 2012


When I was a newbie in the call center industry, part of the problem I had with my application was the line “We will just call you within 24 to 48 hours. Don’t call us, we will call you.” I wait, and wait, and wait…but nothing.

If there is one thing that I truly hate in life (as much as in relationships or even job hunting) is not knowing where I stand. I’ve lamented about the fact that recruiters are screwing with my mind just by telling me that annoying  “send home script.” Being under pressure (no job, no money), I loathed the fact that my life is totally at the mercy of the recruiter who asked me to wait – for nothing.

When I worked as a recruitment specialist, I got to unravel the truth behind the “send home script”, and I’m sharing this information with everyone in the hope that they will be able to understand why recruiters use such a horrendous line (pun intended).

  1. The “send home script” is a part of the process. In fact, if you look at the process flow for recruitment, it is (either verbally or via a letter) listed as the end point of an interview, especially when the applicant is not qualified.
  2. Conducting interviews from morning till late afternoon makes recruiters very busy individuals. Therefore, if they can cut an interview short and proceed to the next one, they will. This is why a template of the regret letter was created to send unqualified applicants home.
  3. The regret letter and send home script, coupled with a poker face and and professional demeanor is actually an effective way to ward off chit-chat, dramatics,  histrionics, and an applicant’s proclivity to violence.

What are the different versions and what do they mean?

  • We will call you within the next 24 to 48 hours. – This one is the mother of all send home scripts, it’s too generic that it leaves you’re wondering even after 48 hours of not receiving a call, it just begs the question “what have I done in that interview that deserved failure?”
  • We will call you within 24 to 48 hours. We will call you, don’t call us. – is a definite sign of failure. Move on.
  • We will call you within 24 to 48 hours, if you do not receive a call from us, then you know what it means. – It’s a indirect way of telling you that you failed.
  • We will call you within the next 24 to 48 hours, please keep your lines open. – Is normally delivered, sans the poker face, with a light mood, and even with a smile, somehow telling you to hope/expect. A recruiter will not tell you to keep your lines open unless you failed.

Being a job hunter, part of your mission is to find out if you passed or failed – immediately. Therefore, a 24 to 48 hour waiting time is oftentimes crucial to your decision-making, especially if you are under pressure to decide on a job offer, or if your folks are telling you to find a job, or you simply need a job to start the income flow. If a recruiter tells you a very generic “We will can you within 24 to 48 hours”, what can you do to know if you failed (so you can move on)?

  1.  Observe your environment. Applicants who passed are either asked to wait or to come back for the next stage.
  2. Chat with other applicants. Find out what stage of the recruitment process they are in. Were they given a letter? Were they asked to wait? Is the recruiter friendly? Are applicants sent home via a regret letter, or is it the verbal send home script used? Bottom-line: to determine the process is to know where you stand.
  3. Study your recruiter. Is he the professional type with a  poker face? Friendly? Chatty? If  he is overly professional and you feel that you failed, say this “I’m new to the industry and I’m trying to improve my chances of landing a job. May I ask why I failed? It would truly appreciate it if you can give me my areas for improvement.”  If the recruiter declines, don’t insist. It’s ok. Move on.

Note: DO NOT question the decision of the recruiter as to why you failed, especially, do not show an attitude – that will not get you the job. Remember, YOU ARE THE APPLICANT, plus,  he is not obligated to tell you. Failure is simply an indication that (1) you do not match the qualifications required for the post, and (2) you have an area or areas for improvement that you should focus on.

In the event that you end up not getting a clue and it has been 48 hours, how do you follow up your application? Do you even need to?

There are cases when you really want a job because of the compensation, the company culture, the people, or plainly, you just want that job so badly you don’t want to give it a rest. Do you need to make a follow up? By all means, go ahead. However, follow the below suggestions.

  1. Call or SMS the same person who processed your interview. Don’t ask the receptionist.
  2. Call or SMS in the morning, just towards the start of the shift, not lunch time, not in the afternoon.
  3. Avoid walking in to follow up, it’s a waste of time, unless you have time and money to spare. Question here is, will the recruiter have time for you? (Remember, he is busy with interviews).
  4. If the recruiter admits that you failed, you have the option to ask why, also, don’t hesitate to ask if you can be referred to another account for processing.
  5. Don’t linger if you already know the result.
  6. Don’t question the decision. Just move on.

Understanding the “send home script” will make you an informed and prepared applicant, it gives you that ability  to provide an outright evaluation of your application just by studying the environment, the recruiter, and how the “send home script” is said. In cases where there are no obvious indications that one failed or passed, it would be best to wait for the call within the prescribed time and move on if none is received.

Good luck.

Note: If you have any questions, concerns, comments, suggestions, or a specific scenario you wish to consult, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, I’m always happy to help.

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Regret Letter | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Will I survive the call center industry?

Posted by on August 14, 2012


You are a fresh graduate and currently job hunting, or your friends are working in a call center and they’ve been bugging you to work with them, and right now, you’re wondering if the job is really for you. More importantly, you are asking yourself  “will I survive in the call center industry?”

I’ve had a few colleagues in the past who tried working in the call center but ended up resigning, I’ve also known a few people, talented and skilled, but ended up leaving simply because:

  • They didn’t know what they’re getting into.
  • They could not handle the pressure.
  • They were just forced to take the job.
  • They thought it would be easy.
  • They failed to see the whole picture, and the possibility of a career in the industry.
  • Their bodies could not handle the graveyard shift.
  • A host of other reasons.

So, what do you need to know? First, ask yourself this question: “what do I know about the call center industry?”

A lot of people, including myself before I started working in this industry, had the basic impression that the job in the call center is “chicken feed”, that all you need to do is to pick up the phone, talk, and logout after 8 hours. The first impression is true, however, there are so many things in between that most people don’t know about, so let’s dispel some call center myths:

  1.  You are nothing more than a glorified telephone operator. – It is true, but only if your account is Directory Assistance. In fact, this is the very same job that gave the call center industry the impression that it is a “no-brainer”. The call center industry has evolved in such a way that CSRs are no longer called generic “call center agents”, some of us are called “analysts”, and the job has become overly complicated that it now requires someone with high IQ and EQ.
  2. It is easy to get into the call center industry, all you need to do is to speak well. – This is  fallacy, and I speak as a recruiter. Although language is your “foot in the door”, nowadays, it is no longer a guarantee. It will largely depend on how simple or complicated the account is, if you have the analytical skill to determine the problem, recommend a viable solution, and to deliver the said recommendation effectively and with confidence – to an unhappy customer.  Recruiters are becomming more and more selective when choosing call center employees, making sure that they are a match, no only in terms of language skills but in skills and competencies required for the job. Those who pass the recruitment process but are not qualified are weeded out through training, nesting period, and the probationary period.
  3. There are no Philippines holidays observed. – This is true, especially when you are in operations (common called “the floor.”), however, if you are still in training, they (well, some) still follow Philippine holidays.
  4. It’s just like college. – If they were referring to numbers (e.i. grades), it’s true. It’s all a game of numbers, and because it is a game, you need to learn how to play it right, and because it is a game of numbers, you need to meet your mark if you want to continue being employed. You know what happens when you don’t pass, right? So it’s just like college.
  5. You have no social life. – This isn’t true at all, you will have social life, a double life, even. We call center employees party from 5am to around 2pm, albeit we party we our colleagues. Bottomline,  we still get to party.
  6. There’s too much sex involved. It really depends on the center (which ones are hyperactive, I won’t tell), but you’re not here for that right? We work for 8 hours, what happens before, in between, and after isn’t just true in the call center industry, it’s true anywhere.
  7. You can hop from one call center to another and still land a job. This is true for most. Even I am not alien to job hopping, this was before I realized that age has caught up with me and I saw myself aging without direction. Hopping is a sad truth in the call center industry simply because of the perks offered by different companies. Companies (the big players) are now seriously considering hopping as a basis for not hiring employees.
  8. Compared to other industries, compensation and benefits are both awesome! – This is true, that is if you know how to effectively evaluate comp and ben (woe to the employees who things it’s all about the basic salary).
  9. The attendance is absolutely strict. – This is true, come to think of it, shouldn’t attendance policies be strict anywhere on the planet? You are getting paid to work, and not being present means you are not reliable, and developing the habit of being absent means you get a prize – the walking papers.
  10. BURN OUT! – This is true. Depending on the account, the average burn-out period of a call center agent is anywhere between 4 to 6 months. This is why companies are so into “employee engagement”, recognition, giveaways, etc. The most effective way to counter burn out is to have a deep motivation, to know this motivation, and in times when you tend to lose to drive, to remind yoruself of why you are working in the first place.
  11. Health and Welfare – companies, especially the conscientious ones, take health and welfare seriously. In fact, where I work, gym membership is subsidized by half, meds are reimbursed, pregnancy is covered (including labor), and other benefits ensures you are able to stay healthy and productive.
  12. Work-life balance. If this means there is no work-life balance in the call center industry, then this is false. It really depends on the employee and the company, and this isn’t at all absent. The call center industry is just like any other industry, the only difference is, we do no bring work home. We login, we logout, then we spending time with our family and friends, party, etc, with some amount of compromise for scheduling the activity.
  13. There is no career in the call center industry. – This is not true, there is, if you know how to play the game well. It’s all about performance – that is your key to success, plus initiative, presence, presentation, interest, passion, skill, competence – I think you already know what I’m getting at here – it’s a lot of hard work – just like in any other industry. People who claim there is no career in the call center industry has no idea what they are talking about.

There are many other stories, beliefs, rumors, myths and facts about the call center industry that only we call center employees know and understand. Anyone who wants to work in this industry needs to understand it too, else, just like a few friends and colleagues I’ve known, they will just leave not knowing they actually have full control of their career if only they worked hard and studied the culture, practices, and environment deeper.

Posted in Call Center | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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