Call Center Pointers for Applicants and Newbies

For anyone aspiring to be a call center agent, I recently revised and edited this short piece of advice that I earlier gave to a female applicant, so kindly find out if this would answer any of your own concerns:

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“If you have repeatedly failed to pass your job application, it simply means that you have not really understood what you had been doing, and have not prepared your mind for unforseen eventualities.

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Case in point:

Michael Del Gallego is a probinsyano who went to a small college in Butuan City for only two years and because he did not earn a college degree, he could not find any good job there. He gambled on his future and came to Manila only to earn peanuts as a tennis ballboy at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Courts, but now, even with his thick Visayan accent, he is gainfully employed as a Debt Collector for a large American bank at Convergys, netting some P27,000 every month.

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Here are a few valuable lessons that he has learned early enough. All these you MUST ALSO DO as early as when you apply for the job inasmuch as you have to conduct yourself in the very same manner when you start working on the production floor:

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Photo is owned by Philstar

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1. ALWAYS SPEAK IN ENGLISH.

Your post here was written in Tagalog instead of English which is a good indicator that you have not prepared well for the job. English should have been your language of choice inasmuch as you had the intention of working in a BPO where you will, at all times, have to carry a lively conversations with foreigners with various foreign accents;

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Not only is the maxim “PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT” applicable, but if you avoid the use of English, you won’t discover your weaknesses and shortcomings, and this lack of knowledge won’t allow you to improve your communications skills.

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I will repeat this very, very important reminder: YOU MUST ENGAGE YOURSELF IN AN ENGLISH ONLY PROTOCOL (EOP) ALL THE TIME whenever you talk to your friends, your brothers and sisters, parents and relatives. They would likely start thinking that you have lost your marbles but you must tell them that you are striving hard to learn to be conversant in English. In all probability, they would jokingly sneer and guffaw at you, so when you hear their catcalls, simply ignore them;

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2. NEVER watch television shows where Tagalog is spoken but instead, watch CNN, Fox News, or any US news broadcasts or entertainment shows that you can find. You won’t need cable services because these same shows can also be found on channels 9,  or 21, or 29, or 31, etc. so COPY THE MANNER that these Americans speak. Take note and learn the meaning of their idiomatic expressions or what we call “talinghaga” in Tagalog;

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3. READ ALOUD all English articles in magazines, books, newspapers, etc that you can get hold of so you can listen to yourself and sharpen your pronunciation;

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4. BE AN ACTRESS. Yes, you read it correctly — an actress!
#PsychoCyberneticsNow

Close your eyes now and imagine this for a moment:

You are an actress, perhaps even a star, in front of a videocam shooting a live show being watched by millions, and you must therefore ACT, THINK, SPEAK, LAUGH, SHOUT, WHISPER, DREAM, ARGUE, GROAN, CRY, SING, GIGGLE, and if need be, even SMELL like an American. You must BELIEVE that you are doing all these successfully, and if you have doubts, you can PRETEND that you are coping very well. This is called “psycho cybernetics”, scientifically taught in elite business schools as an effective learning technique proving that you can learn effectively in a very short span of time when you are able to enter into this mindset on your specified role.

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#PsychoCyberneticsAgain

TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND SAY THIS ALOUD RIGHT NOW:

“i AM AN ACTRESS AND A STAR”. It will surely help you immensely to say this aloud and for you to hear what you said. Do this REPEATEDLY on every opportunity that you can find;

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5. VISUALIZE YOURSELF. Avail of a small mirror so you can WATCH yourself and EXAMINE everything that you are doing. SMILE even if the people on the other end of the line cannot see you as this merry attitude will PROJECT ENTHUSIASM in your speech;”
Whew! Isn’t this fun?

There’s more!

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Make sure that you can:

“6. Change your name.

#YouMustTrulyPonderOnThis
ALL, and I mean ALL, call center agents must change their Filipino names into something that SOUNDS very American.
How does “Charmaine McIntyre” suit you? Or would “Maggie Owens” be more apt?

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When you have doubts on the importance of changing your name, you shall be in for a big surprise when you are already working in the production floor and unexpectedly, your ethnicity as a person is questioned by the caller. You shall learn soon enough that this matter had been thoroughly studied by experts in Psychology to avoid the pitfalls that may disrupt a conversation.

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Our American trainors repeatedly emphasized that, when sharing personal or financial information, Americans are always wary of strangers, especially foreigners, and engaging them in a conversation for them to reveal their problems becomes more difficult when agents are tasked to resolve the concerns that they called about.

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When your client presumes that you are a familiar American residing in the USA, he would tend to feel more at ease, removing any suspicion on divulging his most-valued financial information on his social security and more specially when he pays with a credit card / debit card for dues on his accounts.

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But if his doubts persist, you must not take it against him especially because he may be in a position of weakness having debts that he cannot pay, and if he knows that you are a foreigner whose culture is totally different from his own, he would often assume that you wouldn’t be capable to help him on resolving his problem.

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In most cases, you will be able to handle this dilemma as you shall be taught more diligentl in training.  The only time you have to tell him that you are not an American is when he asks you pointblank;

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7. NEVER address your client by saying “sir” or “ma’am” as using this is a giveaway that you are not from the USA. While it is true that Americans also say these words, it is often used for emphasis or as a figure of speech.If you think that you must be polite as we Filipinos had always been taught to be hospitable and friendly, Americans regard this as a weakness.

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Call them by their name like “Mister Smith” or “Miss Chambers” and remember that their names are the sweetest sounds that they would always want to hear;

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8. LISTEN very well to what the client is saying so that when he is done, you can ASK QUESTIONS more intelligently, and to clarify what the issue may be, so that you can address his concerns correctly.

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Whenever you ask, you always get the opportunity to get more information to know the problem better;

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9. BE BRIEF & GO STRAIGHT TO THE POINT.  PLEASE do not explain all the details about yourself, your life, your family, your love life, etc. because Americans NEVER want to hear your own drama, unless they specifically ask for it.

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#KissEverything

“KISS” is the acronym of “Keep It Short & Simple”, or if you are really hardheaded, it should be “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. This practise will help you in your job interview as HR is always tasked to monitor the time you consumed in answering a question, and this shall be more important later in your job because your Average Handling Time (AHT) should be at the lowest possible duration. AHT is always one of the most crucial metrics in your scorecard;

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10. TAKE CONTROL. Your must provide the needed information to satisfy the interviewer’s concern, and hopefully, you shall be equally effective when you are already on the job, solving the client’s problem. Remember that clients call because they have a problem, and they are calling you because they need your help.  Yes, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO BE THE EXPERT in handling their predicament, so study well and give your best during training;

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11. SLEEP ENOUGH, preferably 7 to 8 hours of REM or deep sleep.

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#TheMostImportantPointer

This might be the most important pointer in this post.  Why?

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If you had proper sleep, your mind would function efficiently, and you could easily think beyond the box. You may even notice that your speech becomes more creative. You will notice that your client is likewise engaging you in a cheerful demeanor while conversing with you.

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Even if you had item #1 to item #10 close to heart, and if you had been performing very well all week long, your performance will drastically suffer because your brain won’t function properly if you lack the much-needed sleep.

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Before you know it, you will begin to say incoherent statements, and you will tend to grope for words, and your errors will snowball.

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Mistakes will subconsciously make you start to worry on your metrics, raising your level of anxiety, triggering the release of stress hormones. This will inevitably take it’s toll on your health.

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Perhaps, you have heard hundreds of tales on this particular issue.

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Trust me on this, you cannot fix this problem by drinking coffee.

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Your call center job requires you to perform at your peak, and you are expected to do so.

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Never forget that several QA / TME people are listening on each call, checking if you are adhering to more than two (2) dozen set guidelines, and they are tasked to mark each of your missed points. The quality of your call handling is the most important aspect in their evaluation.

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In most accounts, your scorecard is the major factor that affects your bonuses.
Working in a call center is comparable to taking a final exam on each call, so sleep enough if you want to gain good results on your metrics. Do you know that even after you have secured your regularization, you can still be easily terminated from work if your metrics are perennially low?

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Forget that invitation for a boisterous night out with the gang. You can have more of merrymaking than that because on many occassions after your shift on the last day before your rest day, your whole team would most likely go out of town and bask in the sun at the beach where you would often enjoy these rewarding occasions to your heart’s delight, and experience your team-building activities as well.

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Like the fictional spy James Bond, being an agent is literally acting out an exciting role when going to war, and the war starts when you apply for the job;

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12. You must realize that YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You are applying for this job because you are offering a solution to their problem of getting employees to do the needed tasks.

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YES, THE BPO COMPANY NEEDS YOU. They want to hire a competent person and you are the answer. When you finally get employed, you will be trained properly to satisfactorily accomplish the job at hand.

From the viewpoint of your BPO company’s client whom you represent, you are their James Bond agent who shall provide the solutions to their clients’ problems. No, you do not represent Accenture, or Teleperformance, or Convergys, or Concentrix, BUT you are an agent of Citibank, or Google, or Telstar, or whatever account you may have.

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Hoping that this short snippet has made you smile.”

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Okay, #TakeADeepBreath now, and #KeepSmiling!

🙂

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