Why Call Center Agents are Dumb

According to the ignorant ones anyway.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me convince you otherwise.

The consensus these days dismiss call center agents as superficial, all talk no brain, heavy-smoking kids who wasted four years worth of tuition fees for quick bucks and sex.

I admit, before my call center stint, I was one of them.

While I still sometimes trash about their Marlboro smell, burgeoning weight and over the top fashion choices, deep inside I couldn’t help but to respect them.

Here are four reasons:

Call center agents are fast learners
An engineer, a nurse and a teacher, these backgrounds are rampant among agents, who need to adapt to the challenge of learning new procedures, learn a culture thankfully not very different from their own (PH has a strong Western influence), and eventually share ‘expertise’ when that Avaya software starts receiving calls.

Training usually spans 5-6 weeks and absorbing everything fast is crucial.

I screamed a lot during bathroom breaks.

The fact an agent has graduated from the training phase and having panic attacks thinking of that first call next week are bloody milestones naysayers have always been ignorant to realize.

Call center agents are tough
They say in the BPO world that if you reach your 8th month without thinking of suicide or going AWOL, you’re eligible for a Nobel Peace.

Congratulations, you’re a survivor!

After enduring shifting schedules, customers who call you a bitch, coffee becoming your blood, missing on family events (e.g. Kindergarten graduations), and battling a weakening immune system (because you didn't think a daily Vitamin C intake is of any help), great things come to those who overcame when everybody got overwhelmed.

Promotion could be announced any time this week and the pay is gonna be F-A-T.

And so, dismissing these people as those who ran away from the profession their college degree prepared them for as weaklings is just plain baloney.

Call center agents contribute BIG to the economy
From the simple balut vendor to the eateries surrounding outside the towering structures of Makati, Bonifacio Global City, or Cebu IT Park, the economic impact of that simple purchase of thousands of call center agents transcends into the poultry (duck) industry (Yes, balut are duck eggs) and to the family of the boy who delivers fresh goods to the eateries daily. It’s a domino.

Long ago, earning a starting salary of Php20,000 used to be a dream.

Today, it could send a sibling to college, purchase mothers their favorite sofa set, or finance a father’s dream of managing his very own piggery.

Some of the ill feelings toward call center agents stem from jealousy.

But it’s true: call center agents have the purchasing power; they have the actual balls to back their crazy outfit choices, iPhone purchase every September, or that studio type Condo sign-up.

Call center agents are smart
My team’s account handles technical support for DSL connections where we do troubleshooting, ‘baby sit’ through the entire process, and sometimes listen to frustratingly long conversation about the war in Iraq or why couldn’t Katy Perry get a Grammy.

Not only we needed to be smart work-wise, but we also need to be smart enough to be updated on what’s happening in the world.
I’ll always be indebted to the call center industry.

Joining it resulted to the improvement of my spoken English, my social skills to be up par with Jimmy Fallon, and unearthing this competitive thirst for success I didn't know was inside me.

I may never go back to it (eventually, I left because of the shifting schedule), but my respect will be forever.