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.

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