I feel uberly wasted as I watch my AVAYA tick 7:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time in US. Why? I feel like the moment I open our house’s door, I’ll be crawling onto my bed and snoar for the next three hours or so (well, I don’t snoar, really, but that would be the best description that’s way,way better than sound sleep)… Can’t wait to have my subconscious soar in a different world where I could eat tons of ice cream, pasta and pizza without getting extra flesh and without gaining weight! At times when I evaluate my quarter life, I wanted to leave this job. Leave call center – yes, this terrible, horrible job as call center agent- for good, Leave. Forever.(Kaya madalas I take a breather in between – Resign lang ng Resign! Apply lang ng Apply!)!
But, I would also be the last person to say “No! Don’t you dare, Janis!” and convince myself that, on a lighter note, this is still one of the BEST PAYING JOB this side of the planet!
Come to think of it, no matter how sanity-cracking and sleep-depriving your work is; no matter how annoying your work colleagues and bosses (including your TL’s, TM’s, Sups, OM’s) are; and how routinary/boring (Thank you for calling….) or sometimes impossible your workloads/metrices (AHT, Attendance, CSAT, Adherence, etc…) are, there are still one too many reasons why you should be happy you have a job now! Read : You have to be happy and thank the high heavens for having a “9-hour job” dragging you to go to a dreaded, hellish place called “OFFICE” and logging in to a monstrous device called “AVAYA”, tapping a sinful machine called “COMPUTER” and talking to (take note) demonic creatures called “CUSTOMER”.
Lemme give you the reasons why…
1. There’s a pile of papers called “bills” and “statements” needed to be settled every month. One labeled Meralco, another said Globe, Sun, Smart, still others would say MWSS, Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, PLDT, Bayantel, Home Cable and the list could go on forever. How in the world would you be able to pay these “God knows how much” bills, if, say for example, you decide to join a corporate world where you are forced to super dress up (clad in trousers with balzer and high heels and a face that would never forego a make-up ritual and curl your eyelashes) and earn P3,000 (yep, three thousand pesos) every 15th and 30th of the month? Sige nga, kayanin mo kaya, hmp? Well, kung hindi mo kaya, magtiis ka!
2. Gadgets-mania is a hype, a craze, a sickness. Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorolla and others are launching top-of-the-line cellphones nonstop; as in — model after model. IPOD, MP3 players, digi cams, portable DVD’s, etc… Nahihilo na nga ako sa dami ng choices (hindi naman makabili…sigh). Like mo ba ‘gang ngayon carry mo pa ‘yung Nokia 5110 mo at walkman pa rin gamit mo? (Harharhar)
3. NO TAKE-HOME JOBS. Hay, I remember one time, when I was a programmer (yahay), I have to do a lot of research and literal na may homework. Tas, basa pa ng basa ng kung anu-anong books — JAVA programming for Dummies, Learn JAVA in 21 days, Advance JAVA, JDBC, etc… Tapos everyday, revise nang revise ng program ‘gang gumawa ka na lang ulit ng bago.
4. Anniversary sales, Clearance sales, Mid-year Sales, Christmas Sales, Summer Sales of all malls in the metro every single time would and should be enough to push to work real hard para makipag-banggaan, makipagsiksikan at makipag-balyahan sa lahat ng tao sa loob ng mga malls. It’s the time of the year when you could buy stuff you’ve been eyeing for so long.
5. Learning (and speaking) English is fun, fun and more fun! Saan ka naman nakakita ng work environment na ultimo mga sekyu ay nag-e-English? And take note, fluent ang pakikipagsosyalan nila sa mga ex-pat’s (kano, bumbay, intsik, etc…)ha! Tapos ang mga utility nanonood ng Discovery Channel dahil bawal ang local channels sa pantry! Mapipilitan ka talga to converse in English since most people at the upper management are ex-pats, and you’d be surprise to know that you’re comfortable speaking and conversing in English.
6. Socializing with people from all walks of life. Met,been and made friends with people who graduated from Ateneo, La Salle, UP, PLM, PUP, some state universities sa mga probi-probinsiya at minsan from schools abroad pa. Worked with former childstar, band member, dentist, doctor, ex-OFW, ex-brand manager, ex-construction worker, ex-teacher, college undergrad, Masters degree holder, etc… Since you’re working and technically speding some nine hours a day with them, you’re bound to gain more in life co’z the spectrum of learning is vast and colorful. Mas maraming opportunities to widen your horizon and get yourself engage in some activities or interests you’d never paid much attention to before. And siyempre, I need not say na mas lalawak ang circle of friends mo di ba?
7. Customer Service is, indeed, Service to Customers. Dati, wala akong idea what customer service means. But because I’m exposed every single day talking to Americans, I’ve realized that customer service in the Philippines is really rotten. BULOK. OLATS. I remember one time, we were in Megamall at nagrereklamo kami about some rude guards who didn’t let us in because Chele and I were carrying a big bag full of delicacies — yema, pulboron and the likes – that we need to bring to her Tito in Mandaluyong. Bawal daw. ‘Yun n ‘yun. Walang explanation. Basta.Bawal.Daw.Yun. May warning messages ba sila? WALA! Nag-explain ba nang maayos ‘yong guard? HINDI! Then we reasoned out, “Kuya may bibilhin kami sa loob!”. Deadma pa din! Hello, kuya, ang pi-pretty namin para maglako ng yema sa loob ng mall, noh! Excuse me lang, ha! Mukha ba kaming tindera? ‘Tas lapit kaya kami sa customer service at lalo lang nag-hyperventilate ang ulo namin ni Chele dahil ‘yong manager ay kami pa ‘yong gustong pagalitan? Hello? Ma’am Manager, may orientation ba kayo ng “customer service”? Or walang ibang makuha ang SM at kung sinu-sinong bastos ang hina-hire. Well, I am proud that this industry taught me the value of my MONEY and that “when I bought a merchandise, I have to get it’s worth up to the last cent”. At kapag hindi ka satisfied sa binili mo or sa service na natanggap at nagbayad ka, KARAPATAN MONG I-ASSERT ‘YONG RIGHT MO AT MAG-DEMAND NG PRODUKTO AT SERBISYONG NARARAPAT LANG SA ‘YO! Tayong mga Pinoy kasi sanay mag-settle sa “Pwede na yan!”, which is a bad thing kasi umaabuso sila dahil hindi tayo nagsasalita, hindi nagre-reklamo. Natuto tayong lahat to live in complacency, mababa lagi ang expectations kaya hanggang mapagtitiisan ang treatment sa’yo, tiis lang talga. Hindi ko mapatawad ‘yong ibang tao na nag-ju-judge sa mga call center agents na “bastos” dahil madalas daw pag may nakita silang mahilig mag-reklamo, “taga-call center kasi”.
Don’t they know that we are doing them a favor? We’re raising the bar of what truly customer servise is, way, way up. Hindi ba nila alam na itinatama namin ang matagal nang baluktot na sistema ng customer service, lalong lalo na sa mga government offices dahil dapat 100% ang service na ibinibigay nila sa atin? Hindi po kami nang-aaway or nagrereklamo dahil gusto naming magpasikat, at nasanay lang po kaming magtaray at mang-away (hehehe) ng customer pag nag-e-English kami, mas ramdam ung emotion, ung spirit, at hindi po namin layon na i-showcase ‘yong conversation prowess namin. May gusto lang kaming i-tama dahil may nakita kaming mali.
Take this one as an example. Galing kami ni Khat sa shift when we went to Atrium-Makati para kumuha ng TIN ID. Wala man lang instructions or step-by step process kung paano ka kukuha, kelangan magtanong ka pa sa mga clerks na masusungit at ayaw maistorbo o di kaya sa mga katabi mo na lang. So pumila kami ng matagal para lang malaman na nag-fill out kami ng maling form. So back to square one na naman. When it’s my turn, kinuha lang nung clerk ‘yong paper ko without telling me kung tutunganga ba ako for the next number of minutes or babalik na lang ako next year, I had to ask her pa at sagutin daw ako ng padaskol. I let it pass once, thinking na baka pagod lang dahil maraming tao. Then I asked something again, ‘yong ID po ba kagaya sa SSS? Sabi niya, “hindi”. Nakangiti pa nga ako nung nagtanong, “Bakit naman?” at nagulat ako nang irapan ako at sagutin with sarcasm mixed with rudeness “Eh wala nang pera, e”. Medyo nagtaas ako ng kilay, pero sige go lang. Naghintay ako ng “few” minutes amounting to hooping “20 minutes” hoping na ma-ri-release na ‘yong ID ko. Tapos may pinapirmahan pa siya ulit, “Sabi ko, nag-fill out na ko nito, ah”, saumagot uli, padaskol “3 copies po kasi”, sabi ko naman at medyo nairita na talaga ako. “Ganon? Sana sinabi mo kanina para isang transaction na lang.” Napansin ko din na may ilan din siyang tinawag para may ipagawa din. Aba, at hindi nagpaawat ang clerk “Mag-fill up (dapat fill out) na lang po kayo at nang matapos na. Ang haba pa ng pila. Hindi lang kayo ang aasikasuhin namin.” This time, hindi ko na talga napatawad. “Alam ninyo, kung maayos ‘yong service ninyo kanina, hindi ninyo ko kausap ngayon at baka limang tao na ‘yong na-assist ninyo. Di ba na-check ninyo na the first time, e, di alam ninyong kulang di ba? Sana sinabi ninyo na agad!” Tapos from behind her may tumayo na isa pang clerk, siguro superior niya “Miss, okay na po ba ‘yong papers? Kunin ko na po para i-process at nang hindi naha-harass at nababastos iyong nag-assist sa inyo.” Ano, ‘to, reverse psychology? Napanting talga ang tainga ko, sabi ko talga “Wait, ako pa ang bastos at nang-ha-harass sa employee na ‘yan? Gusto ninyo tanungin ninyo lahat ng tao dito kung sino ang kanina pang bastos? I came here to avail of the services I ought to receive as a tax payer, I am not asking you to do me a favor ’cause this if your job and this is what I should be getting from this office. Lahat kaming nakapila dito are technically your customers, we pay our taxes kaya may sinusuweldo kayo. I need not bring that up but if that’s something that could shake you up to do your jobs better, magsumbatan tayo!” Tulala lahat ng tao, specially the employees. I walked out of that office super dignified and in 2 minutes flat, natanggap ko ‘yong TIN card ko! And after that, nagtrabaho na sila nang tahimik. ‘Yong mga nagtsi-tsismisan at nagbe-break nang wala sa oras, nagtrabaho na din nang maayos. Some people nga naman.
I’m not saying now that I am perfect and that I never exhibit irregularities in my job as customer service professional. On some occasions, being rude to the customer had cost me so much, even my job. But I am learning, learning the hardest way.
8. We contribute, a whole lot, to the country’s economy. According to a friend who works at a stock firm, BPO plays a major role kung bakit maganda ang economy at bakit malakas ang peso against dollar and certainly call center eats up a huge percentage of BPO’s operations and success. Mas na-marginalized nga daw ang gap between the rich and the poor dahil BPO employs millions of people, and these people don’t come from rich families naman. Imagine, bringing dollars to the Philippines kahit nasa Pinas ka lang, ang galing di ba?! Hindi lang ‘yan, I believe that this is one of the hardest jobs dahil binabayaran tayo by the seconds we work, kaya nga di ba ma-late lang ng ilang minutes or seconds, big deal na talga! Hindi gaya ng ibang jobs, okay lang kahit 1.5 hours mag-lunch tapos may tsismisan pa in between, wala ring effect kung mag-overbreak man sila. ON some jobs, they can afford to sleep pa nga while on duty. Sa call center, you live and work by the second (hindi puwede ma-overbreak dahil may memo/IR kaagad) and you literally talk 7.5 hours non-stop! Now, that’s customer service!
Actually, mas marami pang perks ang job na ‘to, mostly regarding finances – I am financing my brother’s college education, keeping the family’s finances under control, still manage to buy things I want, out-of town trips and mountain hikings, savings and many more. Pero ang mas natutuwa ako sa job na to is the way my confidence was built up – I ain’t at all jittery to approach or to talk to anyone kahit ano pa ang status ng taong ‘yon, I know all thoughout the convo, I never would falter and that I’m interesting to talk with di ba. Thought I still want to have my own business someday (resto or bakehouse) and teach (college) at naniniwala akong being a call center agent won’t get me to amass millions, it certainly allow me to live, at least, comfortably. If you’d ask me nga if there’s any job I’ll trade this job with or give up this job for, hindi siguro ako papayag unless it’s a high-paying IT-job that won’t push me to start at entry-level post. Basta, enjoy ko muna ‘yong job na ‘to and if I have already saved enough and all my big financial obligations are settled (or if I ever get married, haha, kelan kaya to? or posible ba ‘tong mangyari?), aalis din siguro ako. But I would always look back and smile, with an equal pride of being a call center agent once in my life and spent years by a computer and a phone saying “Thank you for calling… And have a wonderful day!
Call center people, may karapatan tayong magsaya, may karapatan tayong magyabang!!!