I was really excited the moment I got hired as a Customer Service Representative at a call center in Makati, back in September 2013. I researched everything about call center companies and I think I might be able to apply to one of them. Anyway, I was already attending numerous job fairs and so far I haven’t had any luck… until that moment.
Right after getting hired, I immediately celebrated this achievement with a nice meal and a nice stroll in Ayala Center, not knowing that I’m up to a surprise twist as soon as my training starts. I thought, what did I actually get myself into?
[10-03/Wednesday] I started training at a call center company in Makati as a Customer Service Representative (CSR). On the first day, I suddenly felt lethargic up to the point of falling asleep while waiting for the orientation. Everything went well on the first day, but I had a hard time falling asleep when I got home the following morning.
[10-04/Thursday] Despite the lack of sleep, I was able to make it through the second day of training without getting a headache. Of course, there’s a tendency to fall asleep as I’m not used to staying up through the night and the strong smell of coffee in the pantry area makes me feel nauseous. And yes, we actually filled up the application forms after the lunch break (the call center company didn’t ask for my resume back when I applied during the job fair).
[10-05/Friday] Pre-employment medical exam, shortened to PEME, in one of the training rooms. I collapsed during the blood extraction for the blood examination, I had low blood pressure at the time. It took me a while before I can get up and complete the rest of the medical exams.
[10-08/Monday] Off to process my NBI clearance and other documents needed for employment. We were given a day off in order to comply with the requirements, dropping by the HR office to submit the documents, and had a nice early dinner at a Japanese casual dining restaurant in Makati and a nice sip of lemon tea in a milk tea shop at Centris Walk (Quezon City).
[Rest of the third week] Communications training, as well as a crash course in the English language and speech training.
[10-16/Wednesday] I celebrated my 23rd birthday at a fast food chain in Makati Avenue Extension. Of course, it was an informal celebration considering that I never actually told my co-trainees about my birthday, but we still managed to eat out anyway.
[Fourth week] The actual call center training begins. This is where we learn the basics of customer service and we did some role-playing on handling customer concerns and problems.
[Fifth week] And I finally passed the Global Communications Training, so I’m off to Enhanced Class. A day later, I had an interview for an account and before I know it, I’m already headed to Product Specific Training. But first, there’s a two-day Financial Forensics Training (if I recall correctly) and it coincided with the Halloween zombie run in Buendia.
[11-04/Monday] PST begins and we introduced ourselves to our new trainer. She then divided our batch into five groups. I come up with the name for our group, and the rest of my group mates agreed. The others had already chosen such unique names for their respective groups as well, and that’s how our first day of PST went.
[Rest of the first week] In this hands-on training on account management, we learned the basics of managing the customer’s accounts. In order to manage the customers’ accounts, I need to ask for the customer’s concern, pull up their accounts, try to figure out the problem as well as check the customer’s records, and either provide solutions (for a problem) or refer to one of the specialists (depending on the problem). Of course, I also need to pull up the Quick Source (Knowledge Database) so that I can provide the right solutions to their concerns and problems.
[11-07/Thursday] There’s a typhoon in the Eastern Visayas area, but Metro Manila is also affected, albeit just strong winds and some rainfall. I even recall myself nearly got blown by the strong wind while heading to a convenience store during break time. Of course, in preparation for this, I bought a new umbrella and a black and gray scarf using my training allowance.
[Second week] I feel like quitting right this instant, but my batchmates/co-trainees convinced me not to give up. I’m still giving it a try to see if I’m really capable of doing non-stop complicated work. Since I tend to forget the parts of the general account information (WAGN) screen, I started to feel anxious. My trainer isn’t really pleased with some of us not remembering the parts of the WAGN screen so we’re trying our best to familiarize ourselves with it.
[11-13/Wednesday] We just had our own lockers, as well as a set of padlock and key, and an Emergency Passport. I had no idea as to what the latter is used for, but I assumed that it is related to the locker that we’re using. Well, my locker is located at the bottom, so I’ll definitely need to bend down just to store my things in there. Oh well, that’s how it is.
[Third week] Just got back from a two-day outing, and we’re about to begin our OJT. Yes, the PST continues, but we also spend a considerable amount of time inside the actual workplace, sitting in with the call center agents and taking notes. Of course, I also heard their frustrations with dealing with rude customers and how they deal with it minus the rudeness. I also get to listen to some calls and I managed to pay attention to how the agents handle the customer’s concerns.
[Fourth week] Start of Academic Bay or ABAY. My shift starts past midnight and I have to deal with a risk-taking alternative to MRT-3 (there are no train operations from 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM) by riding the UV Express from SM Fairview to Buendia and then taking the jeepney to Makati Avenue, where the BPO is located. Okay, so we’re done with sitting in with the call center agents and learning from their experiences, but I don’t think I was able to fully absorb what they shared to us. Looks like it’ll be a challenge for me to do the same once I hit the desk. And yes, we were trained in using the fingerprint scanner and entering the passcode in order to enter the workstation. The passcode consists of my ID number, and an additional digit preceding it. I’m probably getting used to this kind of life, or so I thought.
[Fourth week] And the stressful part of transition begins. To be honest, I really want to give up and find another job, but at least I need to experience first what being a call center agent is like before giving my verdict. It was such an extremely stressful experience for me that I couldn’t help but break down after a few unpleasant calls. This stressful experience only gets worse with the customers’ rude response to my solutions to their problems, which is kind of infuriating for me. Despite this, we have to be nice to the customers at all times.
[First two weeks] Yeah, life goes on in the workstation. Just keep going and never give up. Still, I tend to feel upset at times due to the stress I experienced with some of the rude customers and I always feel kind of relieved upon stepping out of the building to the morning rush of vehicles and workers in the area. Now that I look at it, I tend to feel weird at times since I have to work at night, just because… Anyway, our PST trainer (and team leader) created a new team and some of us batchmates are in it. And yeah, I think we already got our Christmas package (I opted for a Christmas ham) just weeks before the actual Christmas celebration.
[Third week] Christmas is coming, and the good news is we can choose one of the two holidays (whiich is actually a day off) in order for us call center agents to spend time with the family. I opted for Christmas Day, but then I made a wrong decision as my relatives always gathered around New Year’s Day. I should’ve opted for a New Year’s day off instead. And yes, we had our Christmas Party at the World Trade Center in Pasay, but since I’m on duty that day, I can’t attend. It really sucks, but at least we had our free meal.
[Holiday week] Yes, I really enjoyed spending a day off on Christmas with my mom and little sister, but I really can’t enjoy New Year’s day since I have work on that day. At least, the curtains on our workplace are drawn and the lights are dimmed so we can all see the fireworks display while tending to our customers’ concerns. The following day, I only managed to join my relatives for a New Year’s feast, but I have to go home early so I can catch a few hours of sleep before going to work later that night.
[First week] I was really thinking of resigning from my job as a CSR in training, but I hold back. Some of my batchmates had already left, and I’m probably doing the same thing too eventually. My PST trainer announced that our team will be dissolved and we will be transferred to different teams, meaning that I’ll be on a different team with a couple of my batchmates, new teammates, and a new team leader. I was feeling a little intimidated since some of them are unapproachable, but most of them warmed up to us and are welcomed to the team.
[Second week] Having bought my very own smartphone using my earnings as a trainee, I was pretty cheerful for the time being. But of course, I can’t be really that cheerful all the time since I’m still feeling a great deal with stress with some rude customers.
[Third week] I was pretty close to getting terminated, mostly due to tardiness. Also, I already have issues with misunderstandings regarding break time schedules (one of them is actually my fault) and the pre-buffer schedules that require me to log on at least an hour early. Not only that, but I also had a feeling that I’m not doing well in my performance and I can never catch up with the rest. I was starting to get anxious about what will happen to me if I end up getting terminated from my job due to poor performance and tardiness issues. So I decided to ask my team leader for advice regarding my planned resignation from the company. She told me that I might need to render at least a few days of work, though she also said that there’s a possibility of an immediate resignation but that will depend on the Program Director.
[Fourth week] I struggled to write a resignation letter, but I managed to do it anyway. I handed the resignation letter to my team leader, and a few hours later she told me that he (Program Director) already signed it, meaning that I’ll only have a few days before I’m officially done with my job as a CSR (in training).
[01-26/Saturday] My last day at the company. I feel a little bit emotional as I bid farewell to my batchmates and my teammates, and decided to pick up my things in the locker. In the meantime, the headset will have to stay there for the time being as the HR department is not open on weekends. I’ll be back on Monday afternoon to turn over the headset and the lock and key to the HR personnel, as well as processing my resignation from the company and getting my documents back.
Almost four months and a lot of experiences in and out of the workplace… it was quite fun. For a while, my life changed as I tend to focus on work rather than my daily routine. And working at night isn’t that bad, it’s just that there are a lot of disadvantages too. The sound of passing vehicles and the sight of city lights at night somehow lighten up my mood, it feels kind of relaxing at times.
I still have mixed feelings about working at a call center. For some reason, I don’t feel like applying to another BPO company again as soon as I resigned from my job, and so far I haven’t had any success in finding another job outside the BPO industry. And for the next few months, I’ve been consistently rejecting offers from other BPO companies, including referrals from my friends.
Sometimes, I wonder if I’m really happy with my decision now that I’ve left the stressful life of a call center agent. I’ve already learned a few things in this four-month journey including being courteous to rude customers, finding solutions to the customers’ concerns, and being helpful and cheerful at all times. Yes, I may have learned a few things, but I don’t think I can ever learn how a customer should treat the customer support representatives in the nicest way possible. Whatever.
So my nightlife ends in a bittersweet note, and I’m back to my old self again. I can only help but smile as I recall the remarkable moments that I experienced during training and the stressful times in the workplace, as well as the side trips in malls and other places in the morning, right after the shift. There’s a chance I might never do this again, but who knows?
In short, working the night shift is fun, but absolutely stressful and depressing. I’m so glad I get to experience this kind of life because I’m not gonna do this again. Still, I might reconsider.