Sunday, November 5

On the Other End of the Line

     Maybe you have experienced a time when you feel like you’ve been cheated on the account balance on your cell phone load. You texted only a few times, but when you checked your account it seemed that you’ve been texting the whole day. So you dialed *888 and the lady on the other end tried to resolve the issue.

     Perhaps you love watching TV shopping channel because their almost perfect products amaze you. You might even have dialed the number flashed on the screen. Have you ever wondered who picked up the phone? Well, the one you are talking to on the other end of the line is actually a call center agent.

      Last year, we heard lots of call center stories. Many are interested since international call center companies offer better salaries. Applicants with no call center experience can start at P15, 000.00 otherwise; they can start at P18, 000.00. Just compare that with other jobs, which only offer P6, 500.00 – P8, 000.00 as starting salaries.

People in the rich countries think that costumer service is a sick job. They prefer to do anything other than answering stupid question or get insulted by unsatisfied costumers. Here in the country, the call center is a leading industry. According to the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP), the customer care industry is expected to generate 168,000 new jobs within the year of 2006.

A contact center doesn’t just offer phone support. It also supports customers through email, fax and chat. So if you are interested in this kind of job, it is important that you know how to use basic computer programs. Your typing skills should be at least 35 words per minute and you should be Internet savvy.

There are four typical support types in a call center. One is technical support which provides Internet or computer solutions to customers. Second is costumer service which provides general product support and troubleshooting. Third is travel support; they provide travel booking and accommodations for customers worldwide. Fourth is the Spanish support. Their job is the same with the other three; the only difference is that you’ll be talking to Spanish people. So, if you can speak Spanish you can go for Spanish support. What’s good in Spanish support is that you get a premium of P10, 000 and other companies even pay P30, 000 to P50, 000.

There are some who don’t survive in the call center because of the shifts. They have a hard time coping with it. Anyway, the key to this is enough rest. If you get the night shift you sleep in the morning and work in the evening and vice versa. After all, you are not always occupied in this job. Business depends on the queue of callers.

My sister who works in a call center says that being in a call center is exciting. You get to learn a lot since everyday you encounter new issues and new resolutions. The compensation is also generally exciting. Every agent who can get successful referrals is given P2, 500.00 to P5, 000.00 per referral. She also noted that most of her co-workers are honor students, laude or belong to top students in their class. She also has co-workers who are part-time models, which make it more exciting and enjoyable.

Asked what advice she could give to aspiring call center agents she says ”Being well versed in oral and written English is not enough. A call center agent must be perky, upbeat, aggressive, confident, enthusiastic, and motivated. He must have keen listening skills and fast problem-solving skills too. Remember, generally only 3-5% of the applicants are hired.”

Practice your English communication skills now for it is the most important factor for a costumer service agent. You should be proficient in written and oral English and an American accent is a plus. You have to let Americans believe that they are talking to someone from their own country. Who knows? Maybe the next time you will no longer be the one who dials the phone but you will be the lady/man on the other end of the line who would be resolving the customer’s concerns.

I wrote this last year… just have nothing else to do now… toinkzz


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