The customer service industry is probably one of the toughest jobs — dealing with annoying and furious customers every day is not an easy job. In fact, dealing with these kind of everyday behavior can cause mental and physical exhaustion, which may negatively affect agents’ physical health, and may lead to poor performance. Moreover, despite this baleful effect on health condition, a lot of people — particularly young ones — prefer to work as a call center agents because of the promising future it offers.
It’s noteworthy that call center work is not only limited to customer service. As a matter of fact, there are two types of call center jobs: outbound and inbound. Notably, outbound and inbound call center have one thing in common — they need to deal with annoying customers every day. That’s why it’s inevitable for call center agents, regardless of the nature of their work, to feel the burnout.
Indeed, being in this kind of environment everyday can debilitate one’s perspective to continue the work, and maintaining a positive attitude in this industry is very important. As a matter of fact, having a positive attitude can significantly help agents ease the work burnout.
There are many reasons why customer representatives or call center agents need to maintain a positive attitude in their daily lives. Moreover, maintaining a positive attitude can only be achieved by changing the agent’s perspective towards their work. It’s a matter of conditioning the mind by seeing the lighter side. As an example, try to have a good conversation with your customers — not all customers are annoying, there are some customers who are very affectionate, and love to give a good conversation.
Having a positive attitude can motivate the entire team, and most likely help other agents to overcome the obstacles they’re facing in the course of their job. As a matter of fact, according to Arindam Nag, people who have a positive attitude in the workplace can inspire people around them to see the positive side, and may see the world differently.
In fact, positive attitude can also make an agent more productive; according to website Training Today, most customers will more likely respond positively to a call center with a positive attitude. In fact, maintaining a positive attitude can increase job satisfaction — call center agents who find their work enjoyable and rewarding can result to a lower employee turnover rate.
The ASEAN Economic Community 2015, also known as the 2015 ASEAN integration agreement, is an economic blueprint drafted by the ASEAN members to establish a regional integrated economic community. All member states will be subject to a “single market and production base” which will allow the free flow of goods, services, and investments, as well as the freer flow of capital and skills in the ASEAN region. However, this blueprint has been viewed by many as a looming threat to the BPO industry in the Philippines, which is slowly crippling India as the leader of the BPO industry in Asia.
The study conducted by the Asian Development Bank concluded that member states will meet different challenges including labor migration and fierce competitions between the Asia-Pacific neighbors. The Philippines as the emerging leader in BPO industry will expect a heavy blow of economic loss because of the aggressive competition, and may slow down or decrease the country’s economic growth.
Tholons Inc., a leading US-based globalization and investment advisory firm, named the Philippines the second largest outsourcing destination in the world, in which India has a narrow lead over the Philippines as the top choice destination. According to the published article, the Philippines’ BPO industry has grown tenfold from US $1.55 billion in 2004 to $15.5 billion in 2013. It is also expected that this figure will proliferate as the Philippine government has invested heavily to further develop the industry.
However, as a result of intense competition between ASEAN nations, the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 agreement is expected to hinder this growth. As an illustration, international companies may rationalize offshoring to ASEAN member states, as lowering trade and employment barriers in the region has been unloosed because of the agreement.
On the other hand, despite the different challenges posed by the ASEAN Economic Community 2015 agreement, the Philippines remains to have the upper hand in the region, as it already cemented its credentials in the international trade. In addition to that, the country has dominant characteristics, which lure a lot of offshoring companies compared to its neighboring ASEAN nations such as: linguistic and cultural compatibility, lower labor cost, which are the main reasons why international companies outsourced their service. The full support of the government in developing the industry through proper legislation and improving the country’s infrastructure sector widely contributed to the long-standing sustainability of the BPO industry.
Call center work has been one of the high-compensating jobs in the professional industry. As a matter of fact, in other countries, some BPO firms don’t even require their applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. However, the majority of call center agents in these countries hold a bachelor’s degree and even went to a reputable school, especially in locations such as the Philippines and India. Having a degree in this industry has been just one prerequisite and conditional requirement. Regardless of applicant’s educational background and work experience, it’s noteworthy to know what are the must-have qualities of a good call center agent.
Probably one of the most important characteristics a call center agent must have is knowledge retention. To optimize an agent’s performance, call center agents need to absorb large amount of information. In the first place, the primary goal of an agent is to provide exceptional support to customers, and this can only be achieved by memorizing large amounts of knowledge about the company and its service or product. As a matter of fact, having good knowledge retention ability can improve customers’ experience and agents’ performance.
At the frontline of the company, call center agents are exposed to a demanding environment and dealing with customers’ different personalities every day is a bit challenging. In this kind of working environment, being flexible is very important. As an illustration, agents need to handle dozens of calls every day, and dealing with an array of customers is inevitable. Moreover, since the majority of offshoring companies are in different time zones, call center agents should also be flexible working in challenging hours. (Night shift, weekends and during holidays)
Indeed, having effective communication skills is probably the must-have ability of an aspiring call center agent. Regardless of educational background, having effective communication skills is very important. — Take note, good communication skills are not only limited to conveying verbal messages or thoughts, but also involve active listening. As a matter of fact, active listening will help agents communicate more clearly and effectively.
In addition to active listening, call center agents’ primary goals are to provide the highest quality of customer support to avoid the same problem happening again. To avoid repeating problems, it’s a must for call center agents to carefully pay attention to detail; by doing this, agents would have a greater understanding of the customer’s issue. Combined with clarification, customer problems can be easily solved.
In the end, mastering these abilities cannot be done in a short period of time; even competent and skilled professionals started their careers as learners. As a matter of fact, practice and daily work experience is still the best way in improving one’s abilities.
The offshoring industry has been a key industry especially in developing countries. As a matter of fact, the outsourcing industry is one of the robust sectors in some Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Philippines — yes, you read it right, Vietnam has now ventured into the BPO industry, this communist state country has been rarely recognized and is overshadowed by the Philippines and India in the list of top BPO destinations in Asia. However, the outsourcing industry in Vietnam has been hurdled by linguistic and cultural compatibility, which are pivotal points in mapping a good location and long-term sustainability, particularly in the call center industry. That’s why the BPO industry in the country is only limited to document-oriented business processing.
Maybe you are wondering what is the connection of linguistic and cultural compatibility in the call center industry. As mentioned, mapping a good relocation destination for call center outsourcing is very important. Notably, a majority of outsourced services are provided in the English language and it is very important that the chosen country of relocation is well versed in the English language. — Here in Vietnam, as well as, in India and the Philippines, there are both opportunities and obstacles.
The call center industry in Asia was first introduced in India, which is regarded as one of the nations with a powerful command of the English language. This is not surprising, India’s historic use of the English language is the product of colonization by England. It has been estimated that India has used the English language since the 1800s. However, despite having the linguistic and cultural advantage, a lot of call center industries are shifting to a BPO emerging market: the Philippines.
There are many reasons why call center firms are moving their services to the Philippines. Primarily, BPO firms in India have been facing different challenges. According to an educational portal (managementstudyguide.com), which tackles the growing problems of BPO firms in India, BPO firms are greatly affected by the current socioeconomic and political instability of the country, which forces them to discontinue their service.
Moreover, unlike other developing countries which served as a good relocation site of BPO companies, the Philippines has been distinguished for its advantage to other countries in terms of linguistic and cultural compatibility. The archipelagic country located in the Western Pacific has been part of the American state for almost half a millennium, and they embody the American culture until today. As a matter of fact, the Philippine government has developed a form of government somewhat similar to that of the United States, which is why a lot of western companies are very keen in relocating their companies to the country.
In fact, India has been known to be more economically and technologically advanced when compared to the Philippines. However, Filipinos are known for their neutral accent, which is the one considerable factor why a lot of call center firms choose the Philippines over India.
The book by John C. Messenger and Naj Ghosheh, ‘Offshoring and Working Conditions in Remote Work’, emphasized the importance of different factors BPO firms need to consider in mapping the right relocation of their service which include; the importance of the social and political stability of a country, linguistic capability and cultural empathy. These are very crucial factors in relocation of business processing, especially for long-term sustainability of the company, which mainly rely on manpower.
The call center industry has been one of the lucrative industries emerging in Asia, particularly in India and the Philippines, which served as the few Asian countries that had a developed market in the BPO industry. As a matter of fact, working in a call center industry in these countries has been a general trend, particularly for people who are looking for a high compensating salary and self growth and development.
However, entering the call center industry is not an easy process, applicants should first pass a series of interviews, composed sometimes of individual and panel interviews. As an illustration,interviewer(s) will ask various questions to gauge your verbal communication skills. In fact,sometimes they will intimidate you like a lawyer asking an accused in a trial, just to measure your tolerance in dealing with enraged customers.
If you passed this level of the limbo welcome to the jungle!
Being a call center agent is one of the satisfying jobs you will have, aside of higher compensation and benefits. You will also meet a lot of friends in this industry, who will be your best friends forever.
As a newbie, learning the art of customer service is probably the most challenging part of this industry, aside from learning all the aspects of your product. Probably, the most grueling part is how to adjust yourself to the personality of your customers, which will take time and failure attempts. In this moment in your career, you will realize how challenging and fulfilling the call center industry is.
Moreover, working in a call center is a demanding job. You need to work more or less nine hours, sit and talk to irate customers every day. Considering this kind of working environment, you need to have a high quality of physical and mental health to endure this kind of work every day. You need to sacrifice some of your basic necessities like going to the comfort room, or resting for a while, because the job requires your full attention it will definitely force your human capacity. In all honesty, these are the reasons why a lot of people enjoy this career. The challenges and the fulfillment’s are the things that fuel them to go to work every day.
In addition to that, helping someone (customers) get through to their problems can be humbling and fulfilling it’s a priceless experience! Having good communication skills is just one aspect that you need to have if you want to enter this industry. As a matter of fact, having a positive attitude in this industry will help you bridge between the market and customers, wherein transactions and any problems can be solved or can be done easily.