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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.