My life as a call center agent

I started working in a call center when I was 22 yrs old. There were a lot of challenges before I was able to land the job. Teletech Cainta was the first BPO that hired me, after numerous applications to several different call center companies. Mind you, the application process was not that easy. I came to the location at 8 am and able to sign the contract at 10 pm. I was so happy to the point that I cried in joy and thank God for helping me passed the interviews and assessment.  I was so excited to experience how is it to work at night, how do people fight not to slumber and what kind of crowd will I encounter. There were trainings that we need to pass in order for us to be endorsed to the floor and even if we pass the trainings we also need to pass the nesting period. We have 3-week training, 1 week for English 101, basically, this is for Communication Skills which include the American culture (we will cater to the Americans) and 2-week for Product training. 

Training was so fun, there were times that we went out for a drink, it happened several times. Then on our graduation day after the assessment.we had our Team Building in a resort here in Montalban. I can’t explain how fun it was. We really had a great night, there was a lot of food, drinks and laughter. It was indeed one of the most memorable days for me.

What is like working in a call center?

Mind you, job in a call center is tough and result oriented. It is like another job, where performance, discipline, patience, flexibility, communication skills, presence of mind and loyalty matters. It is not at all about fun.  In addition to this, the stress that we encounter whenever there are rude, arrogant customers, the numbers and target that we need to hit in order to pass the month, or else you will be in a PIP or Performance Improvement Plan. We as a call center agents are immortals, immortals because we have to come to work even if we’re sick, even if there’s a strong typhoon, Philippine Holidays, including Christmas and New Year. I remember the 1st Christmas and New Year at work, away from my family. It was heartbreaking because it was my first time spending the holidays in the office, taking calls while others are happily spending it with their loved ones.

I have to go to the office even if there’s a strong typhoon and flood everywhere. I have to go to the office even if there’s a transport strike. 

In addition to this, you are lucky (the other way around) if you have a Team Manager such as 

*A micromanagement

*A one-size-fits-all approach to management

*Doesn’t lead by example

*Lack of Empathy or concern 

*Focused on blame rather than solutions and support

*Uses their team as pawns for their own success

*Lack of focus

*Takes credit for other’s work. These are the Traits that bad bosses have and it would be so hard to deal with. 

Tam Building
Tl Maica’s Birthday
Free milktea in the office

What are the advantages of working in a call center?

While there are certainly other industries that offer enormous compensation none will offer a higher salary for entry-level positions than the call center industry. Based on my experience, the lowest basic salary that call centers will offer is Thirteen thousand pesos exclude the De Minimis benefits, some provide transportation, meal, clothing, rice, laundry, and even mobile phone load allowances, Thus on average, a call center agent will receive fifteen thousand pesos every month after taxes (take-home pay). Of course, there are other call center companies that offer higher compensation

  • Higher Pay/without any discrimination

There’s no discrimination in a call center, regardless of your sexual preferences, age, physical look everyone is free to apply and chances to get hired. Call centers are also giving an opportunity to undergraduate and even high school graduates to be part of the industry. As long as you know how to communicate in English fluently and know the basic computer you’re in. Of course, you have to pass all the assessments and interviews. 

  • Minimal work volume

Compared to other professions, we don’t bring our work at home. Once our shift ends, our work ends as well. There are some exemption or instances that we need to render overtime but these are paid overtime and sometimes with premium pay. 

  • Dress Code

Most of the companies do not require a dress code. You can wear whatever you want. Some agents go to work only wearing pants, a t-shirt and rubber shoes, some are even wearing shorts and slippers. 

A few call centers though would require its employees to wear corporate / business attire but very rare. You just have to make sure that what you’re wearing is decent. 

  • Prestige

All Multinational companies are located in a busy business district such as BGC, Makati, Eastwood, and Ortigas, These companies such as Jp Morgan, Accenture, Concentrix has formerly known Convergys, Amex or American Express, Citibank, these are well known and prestigious companies that also offer huge salary, well-equipped facilities, offers recreation areas and an edge that you belong to one of these companies is a plus in your resume. 

  • No Traffic

The good thing about working at night is that I don’t have to put up with rush hour traffic. In the morning, when everyone is heading south (to Ayala, and Ortigas), you are heading the opposite direction and at nights when everyone is heading north, you are heading to the business districts of Ayala and Ortigas.

  • Full Benefits

Whenever I apply or transfer to a certain company, I always look for the benefits they offer most especially the HMO or the Healthcard. Some company offers HMO with free 1dependent, 2 dependents or even 3 dependents and some give the HMO card on the very first day or first month in the company. 

There are different HMO cards like Maxicare, Medicard, Intellicare etc. The best for me would be the Premium Maxicare, when I was in Accenture the covered of our Premium Maxicare would be 400K inclusion of Dental and Facial( including wart cauterization. 

Call center companies also shoulder 7.37% of the SSS contribution wherein 3.63% shoulder by the employee. We’re also entitled to Night differential most especially if you’re in a graveyard shift. Some companies have hazard pay as well, rate depending on the employee’s location. 

The disadvantages of working in a Call Center

  • Stress- 

There’s no easy job whether you’re in a Sales, Customer service, Technical, or even in Financial account you will encounter rude, arrogant customers most especially if you’re working with Americans. They are demanding and frank. Most of the call center agents are smokers because they tend to relieve their stress through smoking, just like they want to breathe. 

  • Work Schedule

Graveyard is the most difficult time of the day. Most especially if your schedule is at 12 am, where most of the people in your neighborhood are sleeping and you’re obliged to go to work. This schedule is too risky as well because most of the crime happens at night, like hold up, rape, etc. You have to adjust your body clock and get used to night shift, awake at night during work, and asleep in the morning. You have to adjust your meal schedule, well most of the people working in a call center are getting fat and fatter as the years go by it is because they tend to eat while working to relive their stress and to stay awake during the night. 

These are the advantages and disadvantages of working in a call center. Some professionals, look down on our profession. Thinking that it is so easy, and most of the agents are not a college graduate. 

People don’t think that the work we do is important. I always hear, “Ah, sa call center ka LANG nagtratrabaho?” They think you wasted years of education just because you’re in the BPO industry. But what they don’t know is we don’t JUST take calls. The job requires different skills. Plus, you can gain so much experience! There are a lot of professionals working in a call center, some are Nursing graduate, Accountant, Engineering, Teachers, Management graduate, etc. 

We also enjoy the 5 digit salary we’re getting every cut-off, we’re able to send our kids to a private school, we can buy food that we want, everyday milk tea or even Starbucks. We can go to the mall, buy the things we want, travel local and international, watch every movie on demand, most of us have cars, big houses or even living in a condo or townhouses. We always go out, dining out in a buffet, samgyupsal restaurant.

These are just some of the privileges that we have as a call center agent. 

This is our life, a night crawler. We work at night, sleep in the morning. We eat our lunch and breakfast at night and dinner in the morning. We have numerous Team Building from resorts to hotels. Our world is upside down but we are happy, happy even though we have a huge deduction for tax, even if we scream to death whenever we see our payslip with that huge deduction, but thinking that we are helping our government and the poor from the tax that we’re paying, still thankful for the blessing. In those companies that I worked with, I gained a lot of friends, some to keeps and some to forget. English became our 1st language, 

Mary Jane Magpayo

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