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The Truth About Call Centers

Jan 23, 2008
Even though call centers are helping developing countries such as the Philippines stay competitive in the global economy, there have been a lot of criticisms directed against call centers in general. Critics say that the work atmosphere of call centers tends to dehumanize the employees. This is because the employees have to work on graveyard shift in servicing clients overseas, particularly in the United States. In this case, call center agents in the Philippines has to stay up from 8 pm to 5am to deal with the 12-hour time difference with the United States. They say that such work situation provides health and safety hazards for those working so late.

To deal with the transportation issue late at night, call centers have instituted a kind of shuttle service where people can go to and be transported to the call center office. This way, safety hazards are minimized. For Westerners, the salary level given to call center agents may seem small. However, in the standards of the country such as the Philippines, such rates are considered as one of the highest starting salaries in the market. In fact, a lot of young professionals are opting to work for call centers while finishing their masters degrees.

Although call centers in the Philippines are strict with time, the time of agents in the toilet is respected to prevent them from contracting any disease. Moreover, they are provided with medical insurance so that in case of illnesses, they can easily be treated.

Another criticism concerns the level of salary being given to call center agents. The amount of money being paid to them is not enough to cover the hazards they have to face. Another issue is the way in which the time of the agents in going to the toilets is limited. In some cases, agents spend 15-minute breaks once in the morning and once in the afternoon and the total time that they can spend in going to the toilet is 10 minutes for the whole day. In worst cases, the agents might develop some kidney trouble if they are not given enough time in the toilets.

Customers have also complained regarding the level of proficiency of call center agents. They say that some of the agents are not very helpful with their concerns and that they tend to lack the technical skill and knowledge in helping them out. What is even alarming is that some agents appear to be apathetic in the face of very irate customers.

Call centers in the Philippines recognize these criticisms directed against call centers. As such, what they do is to ensure that their agents are remunerated well. They are provided with hazard pay and transportation allowance to deal with the graveyard shift. In fact, in most call centers in the Philippines there are sleeping quarters where agents can rest and refresh themselves before or after their shifts.

Employee development programs are also instituted in the Philippine call centers so that the agents do not remain where they are. Refresher trainings are provided to them, and time for recreation is also provided to ensure that there is a good work-life balance in the lives of call center agents. The job is stressful at times and recreation is needed so that the agents sensitivity to the customers is at par with company expectations.
About the Author
James Stinson is Owner and Founder of Global Sky Inc. He employs a team of 50 in a high quality call center facility based in the Philippines. For more info on outsourcing your project visit: http://www.global-sky.com
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