Call Center Life

How to get that elusive call center job.

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

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Which one are you?

Posted by on March 28, 2014


image

Image Courtesy of The Business Insider.

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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

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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 you’re 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

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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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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 Call Center Life:

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

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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 | 2 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: | 28 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 https://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: , , , | 38 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 »

What is your edge among other applicants?

Posted by on August 10, 2012


Se7en:

Revisiting the most viewed post in my blog (second to Learning English the Hard Way).

Originally posted on Call Center Life:

Here is a question from  tsrgame (lifted from www.pinoyexchange.com)

Paano kapag sinabi sa akin ano yung “edge” ko sa mga ibang applicants? Kapag sinasagot ko na flexible ako and I can do multi task ang sabi sa akin what if kung ganon din daw *** ibang applicant. Pag sinabi ko naman na fast learner ako ganun din ang sasabihin nila. Pag sinabi ko naman na dedicated ako, ganun din ang sasabihin nila. Hanggang sa wala na ako maisagot. Paano po yun?

This is one of the hardest questions to answer and truth is, I personally do not like this question, especially if it’s a group interview and you are asked for your edge over your friend – it totally screws up your mind and heart because you are forced to one-up your friend.

One tip I can share with you is never to answer this  question in a generic…

View original 372 more words

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

Improve your skills and competencies while unemployed

Posted by on July 25, 2012


Dear Seven,

I was surprised when the recruiter failed me after asking me the question “What have you been doing since your resignation from work a year ago?” I was just being honest when I said “nothing“. What could I have done differently?  Thanks for your input.

Mike Z.

Dear Mike,

Your email reminded me of the saying “The truth shall set you free.” You were too honest so the recruiter had to let you go. Suffice it to say that you did not give him what he needed to hear – being productive during your time of unemployment. I’m not saying you should lie, but you need to put a different spin to your response.

As a recruiter, I was trained to become wary of the gaps between employments, how frequent the gaps are (indication of job hopping) and  how long the gap is and why there is a gap - having no work  for more than a year certainly begs the question “what have you been doing for the past year?” 

Nothing” is certainly not the best answer. Remember that you are in an interview and the goal of the activity is to land a job, therefore, to tell the recruiter that you have not been using your idle time to improve and/or expand your skills and competencies gives him the impression that you may have lost your edge, or that you are simply lazy and unproductive, therefore, may exhibit the same behavior at work if hired.

Recruiters think this way because of TARGETED SELECTION, it is a method of evaluating candidate competencies based on past behaviors in order to hire the right people for the job. Therefore, anyone who is unemployed, job hunting, waiting for a job offer, or is just being plain idle needs to think of ways to improve his skills and competencies.  After all, having a broader set of skills gives the person a wider opportunity for a better career and an assured way towards promotion.

Recruiters have a way of uncovering your weaknesses based on the responses you provide, and if he sees that despite  the presence of this weakness you have done nothing during your idle time, he will fail you right there. I’m talking about well-trained recruiters whose goal is to hire highly qualified, competitive, and skilled employees.

When asked this question, I strongly recommend relating the response to the question “What do you think are your weaknesses and strengths?” In a way, giving the recruiter the impression that you know your areas for improvement and that you actually did something about it while you were unemployed. Your response doesn’t have to be complicated, it could be anything from enrolling in a language course, teaching part-time to keep or expand your knowledge and expertise, or that you have embarked on a person training to improve your customer service skills. The important thing is you have been productive.

Hope this helps.
Se7en

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

(Career) Shift Happens!

Posted by on July 24, 2012


Dear Seven,

Hi. How are you? I’m not new here anymore, I visited your blog a few days after inception or, when you announced it at pex (am a random lurker). I thank you for creating and maintaining your blog, it’s a big help to us!

I hope you can give me advice regarding my plan of action. I have been working in the same company for 15 years now. When the call center industry was just new (around 2004), I was interested to change careers and be a CC agent, mainly ‘coz of the pay and the new/exciting experience. But it didn’t push through, and now I am into this pit of boredom/burn out for the nth time, and I’m boss has noticed my rather sloppy jobs lately.

Now, I would like to resign and maybe take some months off (6, max 12) to do and finish all the tasks/ to do list I have been listing all these years before getting back to work wherever that may be. Being a breadwinner, I know fully well that this is risky if not totally foolish as where I will get the regular money to pay for the bills, purchases for food, etc. But I have included in my to do list to try/start a small business and/or engage in a non-formal employment. Btw, I’m already 38.

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First off, the label “random lurker” made me laugh, it’s both funny and freaky at the same time - like a stalker watching from behind a tree outside my window. Lol.

I thank you for sending me the comment, I’ve decided to make it a blog/post since your question is rather common but absolutely important. I’ve been asked this questions several times in the past and I’ve offered the same advice (via email and through conversations); this is the first time that I’m posting the response via my blog.

Burn out isn’t funny. I’ve been in your shoes before when I was working in sales and marketing and it took me several years to quit the job because although burnout was eating me alive, I could not find a stable work good enough to replace the job. It took me about two more years before I decided to work in the call center and the career shift is not something I regret. The difference between the two of us is that I was single when I switched over.

However, when you do decide to switch to the call center, you need to decide not only on the basis of the basic salary but you need to look at the overall package. I feel sad when someone makes the basic salary the bottom-line since it isn’t enough, there are so many factors to consider and looking at the basic salary alone is nothing more than a cause for regret. (Click here if you want to find out how I decide on a job offer.) One  tip: Do not resign unless you have at least 6 to 10 job offers, that way it’s easier to make an informed decision.

Being a family man myself, I know too well that the basic salary offered in a call center is not enough, especially if you work in a “watering hole” where the basic salary offered is 16k to 20k. Your best choice is to gun for financial accounts from companies like HSBC, Genpact (both in Alabang), Chevron Shared Services (Makati), Thompson, and a health and welfare/payroll company named ADP (Makati). I’m sure you noticed that the companies I mentioned are all high-caliber. There are others, you can use Jobstreet and www.pinoyexchange.com to look for these companies.

Before you decide, make sure that you discuss the option with your wife and family members. I’m saying this because I have seen wives and children who could not understand or accept the fact that their father is asleep and missing out on their lives, on the other hand, I’ve also heard of families who are doing OK despite one or both parents being call center employees.

As you already know, working in the call center industry changes your life drastically. It will affect your body’s sleep cycle, cause you to feel ill, change your social life (to almost nothing, unless you go out with your teammates) and because of the routine, you will (still) face burnout (average burnout time, depending on the account, is anywhere between four to six months), it all depends now on how strong your motivation for working is.  

Ultimately, you cannot get rid of burnout, in fact, before I even advise you to jump ship, I suggest you look within. My perception of burnout is this, routine makes you efficient and effective at your job, burnout happens when you start to lose your sense of purpose/direction, and if there is too much to dislike/hate in your work environment. However, 15 years in the same company breeds familiarity, and a sense of “second home”, for this reason, whenyou finally work in the call center (or elsewhere), the new environment becomes a shock to you that you can’t help but compare,  your subconscious will be looking for the friendly and familiar, and you might end up resigning from the call center and end up with nothing if you don’t keep your motivation in check constantly.

The uband legend about working in the call center is easy is no longer true. Gone are the days when call center works simply needed you to pick the phone and be like an operator or an office secretary. Nowadays, accounts require the associate/CSR to be highly analytical, has the knack for explaining things, has excellent customer service, de-escalation, and problem solving skills. Anyone who says a call center job is easy does not know what he is talking about.  Also, despite what others say, the interview process  in the call center is getting more and more difficult and background investigation a lot more stringent.

The benefits offered  in prime call centers are becoming better too! The BPO I work for actually included pregnancy in the HMO (others only have pre-natal check-up), not to mention two additional dependents (free), and if you have a domestic partner (gay or lesbian), he or she will be covered so long as you are living under one roof. Recently, we received the news that a retirement benefit is in the works.

Other things you need to consider about the call center industry:

  1. No Philippine holidays.
  2. Graveyard/shifting schedule.
  3. Training lasts anywhere between three weeks to three months, depending on the account.
  4. You can take as much as 80 to 150 calls per day for a customer service account (300 to 600 for a directory assitance account).
  5. You need to manage and pass your scorecard if you want to have a better career.
  6. The attendance policy is followed strictly.
  7. The Quality Assurance department becomes your best friend, and your Team Leader too (lol).

Hope this helps.

Se7en

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

Top 10 Interview Question and How To Answer Them

Posted by on July 20, 2012


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 invitation to talk about yourself  mindlessly. The question is geared towards measuring your work attitude and behavior, therefore, you MAY discus some personal items, however, you must have direction, that is, your goal should be to talk about your personal qualities reflecting honesty, integrity, professionalism, and even your philosophy as an employee or as a student.

2. Why do you want to work here?

This question requires research.  Prior to the interview, visit the company’s website, find out their history, type of business, their mission and vision, their accounts (if available), and their culture. Knowing about the company makes you sound impressive, that you did your homework, and that you are really interested to get the job.

3.  What do you know about the call center industry/agent’s work?

You are not an expert (yet), therefore, the recruiter/employer does not expect you to know everything, but having a basic knowledge of the industry or the work involved is an expectation, and naturally, failing to meet that expectation results to failure.

4. Why should I hire you?/Why should I not hire you?/What sets you apart from all the other candidates outside?

The objective of this question is to determine if you fit the job based on the skills and competencies required by the post. The second question is a trick because of the word “not” but the answer is still the same. Question is, how can you make sure that you answer this question satisfactorily? 

1. Study the skills and competencies required for the post.

2. List down your own skills and competencies. Compare it with the requirements.

3. Think about the interview question. Prepare a response. The bottomline of your response should be that you have the competencies and skills required.

For fresh graduates, it is often challenging to answer this question, plainly because they have no work experience. I suggest the following:

1. Study the skills and competencies required.

2. Consider your experiences while you were still in school: organizations you joined, meetings you attended, awards you won, your advocacies, etc. List them down.

3. Compare your personal list with the skills and competencies required for the post. Then, create a response to the interview question with the goal of proving that you are fit for the job because even as a student, you already exhibited the required comptencies and skills. 

The above preparation will allow you to respond to the question with full confidence and ease.

5. Why do you want to work in a call center/as a call center agent?

No matter how honest you are, DO NOT answer this question with “because of the compensation”. Remember that you are being evaluated, therefore, the objective is to “sell yourself” and to pass the interview. Talk about how close this job is to your skills, competencies, and experiences. If you don’t have the experience (being a fresh graduate or a newbie), talk about how close it is your work and  personal goals, beliefs, and that you see yourself being successful in this field. The objective is to let the interviewer know that YOU ARE PERFECT FOR THIS JOB.

6. Why did you resign from your previous company?

This question has a lot of answers, the only tricky part is if your reason for leaving is negative (disagreement with the boss, your forsaw termination, you went on AWOL, etc), no matter what the reason is, BE POSITIVE. Truth is, it does not matter if your stint was short or long (so long as it is not a string of short stints, giving the impression that you are a job hopper). Tell the recruiter about what you realized while employed with that job, and what you (positively) gained by leaving, and that you are ready to move on. One example of a good response is the employee has had a lot of achievements from the previous company that he is now ready to move on to a bigger, more dificult challenge and achieve more success.

7. What are you strenghts and weaknesses?

Responding to this questions poses a bit of a challenge. We Filipinos tend to shy away from boasting, on the other hand, we do not want our weaknesses to be exposed for fear that we will be judged unfairly.

Remember what you are applying for, if it is a call center post, focus on communication, customer service/focus, friendliness, eye for details, etc. As for the weakness, think of one of your strengths and let it come across as a weakness – my personal example here is “I tend to be too attached to my work that I am annoyed when I am not able to achieve my goals.”

8. What is your expected salary?

Remember that this is not the negotiation part yet. The secret here is to know the industry standard. You do not want to give too high an amount that will make the interviewer think that the company cannot afford you, you also do not want to give too low an amount which will give you no room for negotiation. Know the going rate for the post then blurt it out. Be confident when you say the amount, don’t be coy, don’t be too proud. Being confident about your expected salary means that you know yourself, your experience, and your self-worth, your skills and competencies.

9. Can you work on weekends? Shifting schedules? Do overtime work? Graveyard shifts?

The recruiter expects that you know the industry you are applying for, therefore, the BEST answer here is a VERY CONFIDENT YES. Do not sound doubtful. Rememeber, you are  the one job hunting. (If the work schedule is not acceptable to you, why did you submit your resume in the first place?)

10. How do you see yourself five or ten years from now?

It is tempting to answer this with “I see myself getting married, having kids, 2 cars, a house on a hill”, but this is not the response fit for this questions. Again, remember that you are being interviewed, therefore, the best response is to focus on the job you are applying for. The answer must be work-related, examples would be establishing an impressive performance as foundation for promotion, getting promoted, etc. The more specific the future plan/vision is, the better. This means that you have proper direction in your life and you have plans for your career and that you intend to be there for the long haul.

While it is true that being interviewed is nerve-wracking, it is also true that if you are well-prepared, you will be able to respond to questions with confidence and ease.  Again, read and understand the competencies required for the post you are applying for, Google interview questions and write down your sample answers, let someone look at it if you’re still not sure , know and understand the responses you prepared but don’t memorize them. Be prepared to mix and match your prepared responses based on the questions given by the recruiter.

If you have other questions that you found to be hard, or if you have suggested answers to interview questions above, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, Customer Service | Tagged: , | 24 Comments »

Is there a secret to getting promoted?

Posted by on July 19, 2012


I was on SL for two days last week and when I came back Monday, I found out that two of my colleagues got promoted to the team lead post – a well deserved promotion for these tough performers who never lost sight of their goal.

Getting promoted in a call center is not easy, neither is it difficult, that is, if you know what you need to consider.

The first item on the list is performance. Whenever there is a vacancy and the company opens it up internally, one of the very first things they check is if your scorecard is passing (better if you exceed expectation), which means having a good scorecard gives you that fighting chance to vie for a post. The other part is how clean your 201 File is.

The second item to consider is your eligibility for the post. Now, this does not mean that because you have no previous experience (albeit preferred), you will not qualify. There’s always the training, the nesting period, or a learning curve to give you that amount of experience before they let you out into the world as the newly promoted (insert post here).

In my experience, the lack of exposure in a particular field can be overshadowed by passion, the desire to learn, having a vision, and that ability to study the post you are applying for. All these come out during the interview stage, that is, if you are prepared, you will be able to confidently answer all questions and wow the interviewers in the process. Case in point are my two colleagues who got promoted who had no prior experience in managing a team, although in their tenure here in the company, they were tasked to become cluster leaders within their respective teams and this gave them the experience and the idea as to the responsibilities of a team leader. In turn, they leveraged on their tasks and achievement as a cluster leader which was so effective it earned them the promotion.

Aiming for promotion while working in a call center is open to all, but in most cases, especially if one is employed in a “watering hole” (such as Convergys, Stream, etc.), the chances of getting promoted is almost slim to none. This is the reason why most tenured reps look for companies or accounts that are newly opened or is expanding, more importantly, they prefer to be in the first or secon batch/wave of the said account simply because of that stronger chance of getting a higher post.

Opportunities for promotion come and go, and as an employee who has that sheer desire to be promoted, he/she must keep a sharp eye on his/her scorecard, and to make sure that he or she does not have any corrective actions (verbal, written, especially final) which will mar his/her “fighting chance”.

The desire to get promoted should not be “ningas-cogon”, and that the mentality and attitude is not to get promoted but to get that “fighting chance” to vie for a post. I am suggesting this because realistically, you do not know if you will get promoted (considering your competitors and a host of other factors), there is a difference between psyching yourself up for the promotion and expecting to be promoted – the first one gives you that extra power and desire to better your performance in preparation for the application, while the other is nothing more than just “being too confident” about your qualification.

What if you fail? What then?

I have witnessed employees who lost their drive to work and the motivation to get promoted simply because they had the wrong mentality – the expectation to get promoted was not met because of factors which they could have controlled (eg scorecard, etc), or in most cases, factors they cannot control – such as the competition being way better in terms of performance or is more qualified.

So is there a secret to getting promoted? Well, it’s really not a secret, if you have presence, initiative, preparation, performance, passion, vision, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck YOU HAVE A STRONGER FIGHTING CHANCE to get promoted.

Good luck!

Note: Politics was intentionally left out when this blog was conceptualized.

Posted in Call Center, Call Center Interview, internal promotion | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Managing your scorecard

Posted by on July 16, 2012


So you got the job as a call center agent? You’re done with your training, you just passed the nesting period and perhaps one of the things they introduced you to is your scorecard?

I remember being so nervous when the scorecard was introduced to us during the nesting period. Why?

  1. It’s all about numbers and I’m never good with numbers.
  2. If I don’t pass, I won’t get regularized.
  3. Below par performance means they will place me  in a Performance Improvement Plan, which to me is added stress, and if I still don’t make the cut, they terminate me.
  4. An unsatisfactory scorecard means unsatisfactory career, which is a possible source of demotivation for me.
  5. I’ve never worked in a company whose performance measurement tool was all too structured.
  6. Finally, having a low scorecard means you are the team’s weakest link

First, why is there a scorecard?

As I’ve said, call center work is nothing more than a game of numbers. For each metric (e.g. attendance), you have a threshold, if you go above it, you pass, but anything below it is detrimental to your career. Initially, the balanced scorecard was conceptualized to keep track of an employee’s performance, control it, and make the employee contribute positively to the growth of the team, the business unit, and overall, the company.

A lot of call center agents I know have a very limited view of their scorecard, in fact, they only desire to pass it to serve their personal goals – to get regularized, to get the incentive, to get promoted – there is nothing wrong with that. However, a professional would have a deeper, and wider perception, that is – pass the scorecard to help the team  and the business unit, which will eventually help the business grow, and help build more opportunities for advancement.

So what is inside a scorecard?

Different call centers have differenct accounts and each of them has a different demand, for this reason, there is no such thing as “one official scorecard.” However, for the sake of giving you an idea, here is sample scorecard for a customer service account:

  • Attendance
  • Quality
  • AHT (Average Handling Time)
  • ACW (After Call Work)
  • Adherence and Compliance
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

Click here for CALL CENTER JARGONS

Like your subjects in school, you need to pass each item on the scorecard, not being able to will lead to stressful consequences such as being placed in a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), or worse, risk getting fired, not to mention the fact that a passing scorecard is your key to getting promoted, being laterally transfered (to another business unit or department within the company),  or getting a higher pay.

Remember a few important things:

  • Attendance is the top priority. As they say, just be present and be on time all the time and everything in your scorcard follows. This is especially challenging during the burnout period.
  • Quality. Be mindful of the quality of your calls, read, review, and know the ins and outs of getting a perfect score AND making it a “WOW Call” is even better.  Aside from being mindful of the pitfalls, the secret here is to treat each call as if you are being monitored. If you work in more advanced call centers, they will probably use the NICE software (or something similar), it is a tool that records both your audio and the screenshot of your actions during the call, therefore, it pays to visit your account’s Procedures Page constantly to show them you are doing your best to be accurate.
  • CSAT – more often han not, perfecting your QA will lead to a high CSAT score (but this is not always the case).  According to my colleague Jed Sangco, QA is objective, CSAT is subjective. CSAT is Customer Satisfaction, a customer-based survey done after a call to guage his or her satisfaction, and because it is subjective, you as a rep may have done an excellent job, however, if the customer is dissasfied with the product, service, the company, or he or she is prejudiced by a previous encounter with another (bad) rep, your CSAT score may be pulled down. There is no other secret here except to hone your customer service skill and to know three lovely letters – F.C.R.
  • FCR is First Call Resolution. It’s nothing more than doing everything in your power to resolve the problem and not to leave anything unanswered to avoid a repeat call. So what if it’s not within your power? Escalate!!!! Seriously, most accounts are provided an escalation queue (e.i. Your TL, Tier II, etc), the goal is to resolve the case in just call.

 

So, how do you manage your scorecard?

  1.  Be present and be on time all the time. No excuses. 
  2. Don’t hesitate to take more calls. It’s an opportunity to have better QA and better CSAT. It carries an equal risk towards the negative, but if you (Step 3)
  3. Follow your QA and customer service guidelines, you will be fine.
  4. Know the difference between adherence and compliance. Follow both.
  5. Avoid petiks, long ring-times, unnswered calls, dropping calls, extended ACW (it affects your AHT) and “hadouken.” Remember, you are there to work, to earn money and call avoidance is definitely not the way to it.
  6. Set a higher goal for yourself. If your passing grade for attendance is 90, go for 95, etc.
  7. Talk to your Team Leader abour your areas for improvement, ask for help in monitoring them. If you feel that one of the items in your scorecard is sliding, volunteer yourself to be in a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) program.
  8. Use the first three weeks of the months to invest in your scorecard by taking more calls, being mindful of the quality, following your work schedule religiously. The objective here is to pass your scorecard by the third week so you can have a relaxed week lasting until the end of the month.

A well-maintained scorecard results in the following:

  • Promotion
  • Salary increase
  • Awards
  • Incentives
  • Respect of your peerps and the leaders of the company.

Finally, do remember that although you are responsible for your own scorecard, how you manage it affects your team, your account, and your company, therefore, take that extra effort to study it, dispute what you can (especially QA), and always be vigilant about the contents of your scorecard (especially if your team leader is lazy) for it is the key to your success.

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

Smart way of job hunting

Posted by on June 26, 2012


I had a chat with a colleague just an hour ago, he was relating the story of a cousin, currently jobless for more than a hear, strapped with cash, and have been job hunting for the longest time. The job hunting effort has been frustrating and because he has been unemployed for so long, he is beginning to lose hope.

I couldn’t help by express sympathy towards his cousin. A year of not being employed can really take a toll on your motivation and self-value. It reminded me of my personal experience a few years back when I made the mistake of resigning from my job thinking being highly bankable and qualified, I can find a job in a snap of a finger, to my horror, two and a half months down the road, I was job less, I could not pay the rent, my “best friend” and roommate kicked me out of the apartment and had to live with my (then) girlfriend. Apart from the financial impact, that mistake was a real blow to my self-esteem and it made me question my real skill, my qualification, and my ability to find a job “efficiently”.

As they say, experience is the best teacher, and because I was cash-strapped, living off my (then) girlfriend’s support, and job hunting, I had to think hard how I can find a job in the fastest possible time, and under a very small, inflexible budget.

Online Application was my first fall back. In this day and age, going from one building or company to the next then dropping off your resume in the hope of finding a job is a no-no. Thanks to Jobstreet and JobsDB, I had the convenience of finding a job from the comfort of home. The effect, however, was since I was waiting for the calls to pour in, my (then) girlfriend thought I was being lazy.

When the calls finally came in, scheduling an interview or testing came with double-checking the area for other companies I can have interviews with. I had to make sure that each area have a minimum of four companies I can be interviewed at in case I would have time.

Too, I used my network effectively by asking for referrals. In fact, it was in this manner that I got several job offers because my friends already knew my work experience, not to mention the referral bonus that we had to split after it was released.

This goes to show that while it is true that a misfortune can cause misery, it is also true that the lesson you will learn will be life-changing and truly valuable. I only wish that people will learn to strategize, to use to time, money, and effort more effectively and take advantage of each and every opportunity before them, and most importantly, not to resign unless they have a job waiting in the wings and NOT a pending application or a job offer that’s uncertain.

Finally, my colleague Jed Sangco said the word mistake one can make is to work, then resign without any savings. It’s like digging your own grave and burying yourself alive in the process, not to mention it’s just plain stupid. I can’t help but agree with him.

I’m sharing this story as a wake-up call to others whose job hunting, or is planning to resign because of “impatience” (or for whatever reason), and not having a confirmed job offer waiting on the side.

Hope this helps.

Posted in Call Center, decision making, job offer, resignation | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

What is your expected salary?

Posted by on June 21, 2012


Here is a question from http://www.pinoyexchange.com, from a forum member named “soft_kisses”:

Hi sa lahat,

Matanong ko lang po kung papano kayo mag-deal ng salary.

If in-offer sa inyo is below sa expected mong salary, what will you do? Pwede mo bang sabihin sa employer na I want this salary (my expected salary) or no choice, reject yung offer?

Thanks for upcoming reply.
TIA

Here is my reply to her post:

Dear Soft_Kisses,

Before attempting to negotiate, please consider the following questions as they are very important:

1. Are you a fresh graduate?
2. If employed, how long? Is your current job same as the one you are applying for? Are you a specialist in this field?
3. Is the salary negotiation done “during the interview” when they asked you “what your expected salary is”, or are you talking about the JOB OFFER phase?

You see, negotiation is both a right and a privilege. Normally, tenured call center agents or specialists in a field have the right to negotiate the salary “if they are being pirated”, it’s a different story when you are:

(1) a fresh graduate,
(2) not tenured or have little or no experience in the position you are applying for, and
(3) if you are the one applying.

If you fall under the three categories mentioned above, your right to negotiate is minimal to none, and will come off as a demand for a higher salary when you are not in the position to do so and will most likely fail the interview (if you are still in the interview process).

Also, you do not use the phrase “I WANT” when you are negotiating, you can say “I understand you must have a bracket for the position I am gunning for, however, based on my research, the market value for the said post is Php00,000, which, incidentally, is my expected salary.”

It is also matured, practical and intelligent not to reject an offer outrightly, just say “I will consider your offer and will give you feedback after 24 hours.”

Matured = professional.
Practical and Intelligent = because a good job is hard to find these days.

The 24 hour window will give you the time to think and consider other offers, and if you are not able to find a job, at least you have a fall back plan.

Also, you NEED to do research about a particular company – if they are able to negotiate or not. Like what I mentioned above, companies use a salary bracket or tier system which means their room for negotiation may be minimal if not totally nil. To be honest, it is both pointless and embarassing to try and negotiate only to be told they do not negotiate.

Personally, I play safe when being asked what my expected salary is; without sounding unsure, I tell the recruiter (only during the interview portion and NOT during the job offer):

“Based on my research, the maximimum amount you can offer is Php 00,000.00, I’d like to go for that and if I pass the recruitment process, I’d like to see if it is negotiable.” This scenario is applicable if YOU ARE THE ONE applying.

If you are being pirated for the post, don’t be coy with your expected salary. Employee piracy reverses the role and if the desired salary is too high, it is the company who will be forced to negotiate and since they want you, they will most likely give in.

Hope this helps.

Se7en

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

Call Center work always needs teamwork

Posted by on June 21, 2012


“I work in a call center because I like to just log in, work, then log out.”

“I work in a call center because I don’t have to worry about others, I only worry about my stats.”

That’s where you’re wrong as a call center employee. While it is true that being a call center agent is nothing more than a game of numbers, that is passing your own scorecard, it is also true that you are contributing, and therefore responsible for the scorecard of the team, the business unit/department, the account, and ultimately, the whole center itself.

This is why you have a responsibility to pass and maintain a balanced scorecard – because you do not want to be the weakest link, the reason why the team or the business center is losing business.

Having said this, especially if you are a conscienctious, always present, and a performing call center employee, you need to watch out for teammates who are:

- doing “hadouken”
- abusing personal (bio) breaks
- habitual attendance issues (lates and absences)
- abusing the ACW
- dropping calls
- too long a ring time (not answering calls)

Again, whatever you do when you’re logged in reflects your team’s performance, which means your actions directly affects your team – which disproves the point that being a call center employee is an individual effort – it never is and it never will be.

There is a difference between a call center employee who has the passion to pass his scorecard despite the struggles he or she has with it versus “slackers” who tries to one up everyone, circumvent rules, professionally acceptable practices, and policies, and are just plain lazy.

Report these individuals to your manager for monitoring and investigation.

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

Luck has nothing to do with being a CSR.

Posted by on June 15, 2012


One of the members in the Call Center Forum posted “sana swertehin ako na makuha ng trabaho”  I was surprised and my initial thought was “what the heck is this guys talking about?”

The call center job is not a special field where you will need a four-leaf clover or a rabbit’s foot to land a job. In fact, so long as you meet the minimum requirement, you will get it, considering the number of companies (just in Metro Manila) looking for call center agents.

So why dot people fail the interviews? They don’t match the requirement – NOTHING MORE.

An applicant’s communication skill plays a vital role in the recruitment process, without it, her or she does not stand a chance. Secondly, his knowledge about the industry, the company, and the position he or she is applying for also plays an important role – knowledge is what gives a person the confidence and the ability to respond to questions, therefore, the absence of it will be felt and heard by the recruiter, earning the applicant a mark of failure in the interview process. Third and finally, knowing your own skill set and your specialty and the ability to match yourself with the job you’re aiming for plays a very important role in getting the CSR job, to say it bluntly, if you don’t fit the call center job, you will not get it, no guesswork there.

This is why it is important to know the company’s requirement before you hit the APPLY NOW button, to do a self-assessment of your communication skill, and to know your weaknesses when it comes to the English language. This makes up the initial step before you even print your resume and head out the door to visit a company, and if you skip this step, you are bound for failure and you really will need luck.

Knowledge is power. Kung walang knowledge, walang power.

- Ernie Baron

 

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

Still nothing after 8 call center applications…HELP!

Posted by on May 29, 2012


Yo seven, been following your posts at pex and I have found them very informative. Kudos to you. You’ve been helpful to a lot of people, keep it up.

I need your 2 cents about my dilemma though

I awoled from a cc in cebu. This cc is considered the best by most cc agents in the phil. So it really lent weight to my resume. Got in 2 of the companies you mentioned in the cc blacklist thread even though I declared my previous cc, so Im assuming that the 2(TP and TR) companies don’t bother with the BI or are willing to give awoled agents a try. I left TP after 2.5 months though (stayed in TR for only 1.5 mos – collections killed me), the salary was a huge downgrade, and I was not aware at the time that it would be ridiculously hard for me to look for another job.

I’ve now applied at 8 different CCs and I’m still unemployed! – 1 month and counting – Its embarassing! I don’t even have problems with my comm skills… does this mean I’ve been blacklisted by ccap? if that’s the case… how do i remove myself from that list? I know I have to look for a cc that I can stay in for about at least 6 mos to redeem myself, but is there a particular cc that I can apply at? I’ve tried aap and I failed my final interview – a part of me died of shame that day ;p – probably because I couldn’t get my bs straight ( didn’t declare my first cc and had to invent a not so interesting, untraceable but believable back story ).

I’m only targeting centers with tech accounts, cause I find tech accounts a whole lot easier – and makes the 6 mos a whole lot bearable – so my options are kinda limited. Do you have other recommendations? I’ve tried v(:D) by the way, the cc that takes in termed agents… and they told me that they would call me tomorrow after they do a bg check. Is that normal!?? I only declared TP though, so maybe…but if I don’t get in, I’m at my wit’s end. I need a cc that does’nt do BI, that pays well (by this I mean they don’t pay their agents an ave of 6.5k like tp ), and has tech accounts. A tall order, I know, but if you know any – and i apply and get in, I will make a statue of your likeness and place it smack right in the middle of edsa.

Cheers and may your blog have even greater traffic.

Dear Fitz,

Thank you for following my posts on http://www.pinoyexchange.com, and for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

You situation happened to me after I resigned from HSBC-Alabang a few years back, it took me a month and a half to find a job, which meant that I lost my apartment, the respect of my spouse, and earned a few loans. After that hard knock, I learned never to resign without at least 10 job offers waiting in the wings.

Re: the blacklist. I’ve checked with a few recruiter friends and so far, none has confirmed that such a list exists now. I think it still does but only in limited circles – those who have a serious need for it, such as companies with a financial account. In my time as a recruitment manager, I was a priviledged to receive a copy of the said excel file, but that was a few years ago.

Although the case is not rare, I am surprised to find out that you are still jobless after applying at 8 call centers – especially with your caliber and tenure. It could be one of many things – your resume, the way you respond, your attitude and behavior during the interview…I’m unable to tell from my vantage point unless I’m the one processing your application. May i suggest you introspect? Look at all the possible angles? Personally, I don’t think it’s the CCAP blacklist.

Re: doing a background check prior to the job offer, it’s all a matter of procedure, and yes, it’s normal. A job offer is contingent on three things: 1) the submission of your complete requirements, 2) Your pre-employment medical check-up, and 3) the result of your background check. Some companies are smart enough (and strict enough) to demand BI prior to the job offer to make sure that your on-boarding is problem-free and they will not be wasting time, money, and effort.

I apologize if I will not be able to recommend any such companies since there are tons of them out there. I would recommend jobstreet for this purpose or scour pinoyexchange.com as I’m sure forum members have discussed or mentioned these companies since the problem is pretty common.

I consider this an unfinished blog entry. I will do some research and see if I can recommend a company or two.

I hope this bit helps. Thanks Fitz.

Se7en.

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

I love and hate QA!

Posted by on May 25, 2012


I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Quality Assurance Analyst – there are times when my loathing for them are similar to the loathing I feel for the (1) the doctor who circumcized me, and  (2) EDSA bus drivers.

I’ve been on a 100% streak the past few two weeks. I’m happy about that since it takes real effort to achieve a 100% score on our QA scoresheet (but it’s changing soon). I was on a vacation leave for two days and when I came in today, I saw that I had two QA scores of 96% – both calls got a 4-point deduction because I was talking too fast.

I listened to the call out of curiosity and found out that despite the fast rate of speech, it did not impact the call and neither did it affect the customer’s understanding of the issue, or of what I said. This is my dilemma with the current QA scoresheet, it’s too rigid and has no room for analysis, especially that at the end of the call, I was able to achieve the customer service value which the new QA sheet so requires.

Truth is, I’m aching to dispute the said QA score, but I’m undecided because of the hassle I need to go through. Right now, I’m wishing they’ve already rolled out the new QA guidelines and scoresheet, this way I’d be in my comfort zone.

*(#$&#*($&#*(&(*#!!!!!

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

Return to Work Order: What happens next?

Posted by on May 22, 2012


Hi, I would like to ask how long does it usually take for the HR people to send an employee a RTWO? Also, if the employee replied to the RTWO, what will be indicated on the COE? Will he still be cleared? Honestly, I am still waiting for my RTWO since I’ve gone AWOL for about a month now from a CC in Sucat.

- Allan

Dear Allan,

Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment. The RTWO will normally come in any day within the first week of your being AWOL. The letter will provide an instruction as to when you are needed to come to work. However, by procedure, it’s really not about coming to work – you will be given a chance to explain your side as to why you went AWOL. If the reason is satisfying, you will be allowed to return to work, if not, either they suspend or terminate you for absconding.

It will not be indicated in the COE. The COE is nothing more than a certification that you were employed by the company from start to end date, as (name of position), and amount of your basic pay. However, the negative record will remain in your 201 file.

Why wait for the RTWO when you can resign properly?

Seven,

Alright, thanks for your response. At first, there had been an issue at home so I had to miss a day then the next incident was a death in the family. Yes, it’s odd but it’s true. Anyway, for my case, a week after that death, I decided to go to the company and tried submitting a resignation letter to my supervisor as I was told by the HR. However, my sup didn’t sign it and advised me instead to wait for my RTWO which until now I don’t have. One more thing, I decided to quit the job, which is why I have a resignation letter at hand. Do you think, I should still wait for my RTWO before applying in another company? Should I also indicate it on my resume knowing that I only stayed with that company for only 3 months?

Sorry if I flooded you with lots of question, it’s just that I have nobody to ask since this is my first job. Thanks!

-Allan

Hi Allan.

I’m sorry to hear about the death in your family.

Your short message is peppered with very important points – each of them deserves focus.

Your team leader has already endorsed the case to the HR, hence, the decline to receive your resignation letter – which, in my opinion, is a sign of incompetence considering you can always arrest situations like this by making an executive decision to at least offer to retain you, in an effort to prove that people do count and to solve his attrition problem. The other part is, your leader may have perceived you as a weak perfomer, which made him decide not to vouch for you and just fall back to the HR procedure to deal with you and your situation, an obvious case of de-management, if you will, masked by your absence which made it easier for him to kick you out.

In the final analysis, what’s happening to you is nothing more than documentation and procedure. The question now is, what happens after the RTWO? If you return to work, you will undergo a hearing where they will allow you to explain your side. If you are convincing, they retain you, if not, they give you the walking papers. If you choose to ignore the RTWO, in a few days, you will receive a letter indicating you’re fired.

Your intent to resign has become moot, and has been overshadowed by the HR procedure and only a negotiation with you HR and leaders will enable you to resign, however, if they decline, this will become a mark on your 201 File.

So what does this mean to your career?

It’s a permanent stain on your work history. Which now means you need to make a decision whether to print it or not on your resume.

Two things:

1. Your tenure was too short to matter.
2. Your exit “isn’t” clean.

Notice that I used “isn’t” instead of “wasn’t” because by HR procedure, you are not done yet. I’m getting the impression that your HR sent you the RTWO, unfortunately, you never got it (wrong address on file?), so deal with the current company in order for you to move on by talking to your Employee Relations representative; provide him/’her the details of what happened and seek closure by pushing (negotiate) for resignation. If it doesn’t pan out, at least you tried.

Since you have been employed for three months, this company will be in your SSS and tax records. This will have an impact on your next job hunt, especially if the company is big on integrity, honesty, and abhores hiring employees previously termed. In order to land a job, your best chance is to find a manpower-hungry company who will turn a blind eye at the sight of your negative record – especially if you are highly qualified. Believe me, there are companies like that EVERYWHERE.

I’m sure you will be able to land a job, it’s all a matter of strategy.

By the way, death in the family, illness travel in the province is the most common excuse given by an applicant. I’m not saying you’re lying (no point in doing so), but you need to put a different spin to your statement if you want a recruiter to buy the story – they are more likely to think you are lying even if you’re telling the truth.

I hope this bit helps.

Seven

Posted in Call Center, resignation | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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