Espina: Call center agents, heroes of the PH economy

·4 min read

The BPO (business process outsourcing) industry, specifically the call center profession, has been a lucrative and challenging endeavor. At the start, many thought being a call center agent was a glamorous job, working in tall, modern buildings, in prime locations like the Cebu Business Park and Cebu IT Park, to name a few. But, lo! Many realized that working at a call center could be very challenging, as one needs to undertake a series of training and interviews, not to mention, take on job-based or home-based assignments.

Yes, if you do not meet the passing level, you try again, and again, until you are articulate in the English usage: Phonology, grammar, vocabulary, the art of marketing, answering inquiries and problem solving. True, it’s almost everything one needs to qualify as a call center teammate. It’s a synergy of interaction!

I had the chance to interview a few call center agents and ask them what they had learned in the profession they chose.

During this pandemic, when many had lost their jobs, call center establishments continued to operate and gave many qualified applicants the chance to be employed. So, call center, anyone?

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Kristian Neil Gillamac: My journey in the BPO industry started in 2004. Yes, 17 years into the industry, I have been into different accounts from credit cards to banking to e-commerce, insurance and now, to international logistics. I started as an agent then worked my way up the corporate ladder. The industry continues to grow and I am proud to be part of it! In the middle of a global pandemic, a lot of industries have closed but BPO is still thriving with the new normal, proving that indeed, we are the heroes of the Philippine economy.

Tricia M. Silva: My former work in a foundation was my starting experience—assisting tutorial classes, seminars, producing articles, editing videos etc. I met people from different demographics, and my social interaction skills were honed. I was also good at public relations and marketing. Then, I accepted the challenge of working in a call center. I developed self-discipline, time management, improved my English proficiency and professionalism. I was lucky to have a set of competent trainers and interactive teammates. I look forward to more learning experiences.

Mary Grace G. Abriola: Working in a call center might seem like an easy job for some at first glance. It’s just about answering phones, right? Wrong. It can be very demanding. We always talk to different kinds of customers: customers who are complaining about their services that are not working, customers who are in a hurry that they want you to fix their issues ASAP, elderly customers you need to walk through on how to use the remote control with their TV. Call center agents learn something new almost every day and are constantly being faced with different challenges. Stressful? Yes. But for me, it’s how you will manage it properly.

Charlene P. Soquino: Working in a call center is like any other service or sales job. The primary difference is that all of your customer interactions happen on the phone. The call center life is hard work, but the hardest things in life are usually the most rewarding. Call centers are the frontlines of customer interaction, creating a naturally stressful environment. You may either be bombarded with complaints in taking inbound calls, or often be faced with rejection when placing outbound calls. While call center agents receive the brunt of angry and upset customers, they are rewarded every time they turn a sad customer into a happy one.

Carmelle Niña Castro: Did you know that the Philippines is considered as the “call center capital” of the world? You don’t need to have a college degree to be able to work in a call center; you only need specific skills and the determination to learn. I was 18 when “adulting” hit me. At such a young age, I already wanted to get a job. Coincidentally, my roommate happened to work for a call center. And with that company, I had my very first job as a customer service representative. I’ve always practiced how to speak Basic English, but the English training in the call center where I worked at was extensive.

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