Sunday, December 17

The Way Things Work At A Call Center

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It is always the same. Some big shot company has very bad products designed based on planned obsolescence to last no more than a year or two. They make it look like the big solution to your current problem and so easy to use that the only thing you need to do to make it work is to take it out of the box. So you get excited, you buy it and take it home only to discover that the product doesn’t turn on, it does not do what you were told it did at the store, it is not easy to use and it there is no manual anywhere. The only thing you can find on the box is a serial number written in tiny fonts, so small you have you get a magnifying glass to be able to read it and a phone number for technical support.

That very same morning a poor man from a third world country somewhere in india with no skills, some english knowledge but no real language pro-efficiency, no product knowledge and no hands on experience with the product itself is getting ready to answer the phone, trying to shake off his last call in which he was already yelled to by a woman because she couldn’t understand what he was saying, like if it was his fault that the only job available to him in his country involves a language he can barely speak about a product he cannot buy on his salary, and for a company that was not involved in the process of manufacturing that product, there for lacking the ability of adequate product training. He takes a deep breath and hopes for the best. Maybe it’s just a simple matter. He hits the “Manual In” button and repeats the same script he has been mumbling to other customers all morning. This time you listen to it, and it is your time to yell. 

Call centers now a days are a sweat shop. It is very sad to see what goes on in there. People are underpaid, under mind and poorly managed by outsourcing companies only interested in the few dollars per call that their client is willing to pay, and they maximize their earnings by directing as many calls as possible to their sites, making their operators take in more calls per hour for the same amount. 

The skills of the operator is of no or very little value to this companies, which hire compulsively and fire people at an incredible rate. Since the job opportunities decay with every passing day on 3rd world countries, people working on this sites are always in fear. Management creates an environment of fear amongst their workers. They are only allowed 2 15 minutes breaks and one 30 minutes break, on which they are supposed to go to the bathroom, eat and rest all at the same time. Shifts are usually 9 hours long, but in order to satisfy their economical needs, people have to work extra hours, so they would be working every day, all week, sometimes 10 to 12 hours a day. In this kind of environment this guy has taken your call and the outcome of it depends on how much experience this guy has and how good he can manage his stress. 

All of the circumstances described above wouldn’t actually matter if there was some real incentive for the worker. If the schedule wasn’t so tight, if their employers weren’t so greedy, but mainly, if that big company that outsourced their calls to another country would have stayed in its country of origin. Why? Outsourcing jobs does not solve the unemployment problem of the destination country, and it creates unemployment at the source country. Outsourcing creates a platform for abuse at the destination, and a void of income at the source. You loose, your country looses, and the destination country’s industry loses. 

At the end, you don’t get the service you expected, your product, which was never designed to last from the get go, ends up in the trash, and the guy who took your call was fired because he arrived 5 minuted late the next day and that prevented the outsourcing company from making 2 or 3 dollars for the call he didn’t take on those 5 minutes. Human value is of no value today. Think about that next time you call your favorite company’s tech support.

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