Has THIS ever happened to you?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It was just a little bit past midnight. I was settling in for the day, just about to squeeze as much sleep as I possibly could before my 4:30 AM alarm goes off. It almost always happens- random thoughts play around in your head as you try to doze off.

What-if's and why-not's and how-come's and what-the's.

And then it happens. A Eureka! moment.

Hey, that's a really good idea, I thought to myself. I'll dwell on it more tomorrow when I hit the crapper. I toss around a little bit, ready to get that much-needed sleep.

No, you gotta hear this one out, says a fragment of my personality. This one's really good! Gotta write it down before you lose it.

OK. I reach out for my phone and type away at the keypad, trying desperately to form the idea into words, so I can get back to it some other time- like when I've already had some sleep!

No, not good enough, man, persists yet another voice in my skull. Get up. Do some research. Make plans. Now.

I half-stumble in the dark and fire up the PC, apparently whipped into action by some unusual sense of urgency. I go online, do a little bit of research, look up some facts, and after a few minutes- settle down with the kind of satisfaction that said, "Nice. This idea can really work out."

The various personalities inside my head congratulate each other. Now, we have vision. A clarity of purpose.

And hopefully, we get to see this baby materialize in a few weeks. =)


The Sorry State of Contact Centers

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Sign o' the times, indeed.

I feel real bad that all these contact centers are forced to hire borderline English-deficient agents just to fill their quota of warm bodies to get their operations going on.

Back in 2001, I was already running campaigns (for Easycall and E-performax), and to be honest- as a radio dude- I could only consider a few to be really effective communicators; people who had the proper skillsets and mindset for the job. Fast forward to today, 6 years later- the quality of agents seems to have really gone down.

I suppose it can't be helped- 1) More call centers than ever before, 2) Your talent pool hasn't exactly grown to meet that need, so all these companies are forced to hire more people with just the bare set of English skills to get the job done, 3) The ones WITH decent English choose to do other things, as they feel getting into a contact center is beneath their skills, or simply not worth the time, money or effort.

Can't deny it though: The BPO industry still commands a sizeable chunk of money to be made (by anyone- enterprising individuals, foreign investors, the lowly CSR, etc.), and there are still so many opportunities for growth and development. But don't expect me to run your operations for chump change. I know these companies can afford to cough up a little extra cash if they really think they have to.

Right now, I'm just happy what I'm doing at the moment- doing something I really like (writing), for better-than-average pay (it pays the bills, plus you have some extra left over), with almost no responsibility whatsoever (no teams to manage, etc), and just the right amount of time to do other things outside work (work out, do some business, etc).

So who do I feel sorry for? This bunch of CSRs chattering in Tagalog next to my workspace, right next to a sign that says "English-only Zone". Instead of honing their craft with a genuine desire to be better at their jobs, they waste their time griping about how someone hung up on them (no surprise there), and how they can jump to another call center two buildings away offering (what they think is) a better package for them. I feel sorry for them because, in two years, they will wonder why their contemporaries have moved on to better companies and better positions, while they will still be complaining incessantly about their lot in corporate life.

And with that, I fire up my player and drown myself to the sounds of The Fray, following up some leads my editor just sent me. I'm just not being paid enough to care about these CSRs. And in a way, I'm really happy I don't have to.


I suppose we should be getting on with our lives now?

Gotta thank TV for coming out with a lot of great stuff this past season.

Heroes from NBC was probably the most noteworthy of them all. Great character development, excellent story and plot twists, giving you just enough of your fix this week so that you end up at the edge of your seats by the end of the episode, anxiously waiting for the next week's show. Well done, Tim Kring, well done.

Then you have Grey's Anatomy (season 3), Scrubs (season 6), My Name is Earl (season 2), Veronica Mars (season 3) and, of course, Lost (season 3). All these shows I've religiously downloaded each and every week, thanking the gods of broadband how life has been made so much better with file-sharing from fellow file-sharers.

So now that its all done, what next?

While waiting for the networks to build and hype their line-up of shows for the fall season, it might be prudent to actually get off your ass and re-discover the world you've so thoughtlessly left behind.

In my case, it's work. Apparently, I've been too busy recreating these past several months, that I've actually put a very important task- making money- completely on hold. Gotta keep making money to do the things you like to do, you know.

And so I decided to get into some writing. Serious writing. In fact, the kind of writing that gets paid (like copywriting and doing SEO for a bunch of Australian websites), with a number of blogs going on to help hone my craft.

Blogging, I suppose, helps build a good network of like-minded individuals. For one, I would like to see how this all figures out in giving any business or project an online presence, which hopefully can be translated into actual revenue. It IS very much possible- and as I discover more about it, I hope to document it all here on this blog.

So there's writing, and the continuing quest for the perfect new career, and a couple of projects I really want to get off the ground. All these things to supposedly keep me occupied, at least until the next batch of great TV shows comes around to bring back the couch potato in me.

(Hey, anyone seen that new take on The Bionic Woman?)


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