I’ve just quit my job at the call centre and for a variety of reasons, but there was one big reason.
I Quit Because The Job Was Sucking The Life Out Of Me.
I should have run the day the trainer answered my question as to why there so much American style hype in the place, and she answered by saying “when you are on the phones its like you are battery hens but with computers. The hype is our way of making you feel valued”.
Combine this with working too hard, you find cubicle cracks start to show.
I should have run the day the national manager gave us a meet and greet in training, then mentioned several times how important it was for us to stick at the job. There was a hint of pleading in his voice that unnerved me at the time.
I should have run the day I first gave notice and ended up staying an additional 5 weeks. I knew back then.
I just should have run.
So what’s it like working in a call centre?
Everything is watched, listened to, dissected and reviewed. Unlike normal life we mostly go about life with a certain amount of freedom, freedom is not an option at call centres. In a call centre every aspect of your day is controlled. The words you say, the time you have and the way you operate. It’s the the company way or the highway.
Never in my life have I measured a work day by minutes.
I didn’t ever believe those recorded messages but now I know its true. When big business say they will record your message for training and quality purposes they mean it. Every call is recorded, many, surprisingly more than you think possible, are listened to and reviewed for exactly what they say – training and quality control. Control is the key word and George Orwell wasn’t far off the mark.
Respect is my new measure for all staff in call centres . A few years back I was unwell from self inflected excess, I had a call from Telstra (Australia’s major phone company). To my horror I was a mean bitch to the poor girl on the phone. I often think of this call with shame. Not a shining moment in my life, yet now I think I have atoned.
You Are Under Constant Pressure
At a call centre you are under the pump from the minute in to the moment out. You have to reach targets on every aspect of your day. From the seconds you talk (seriously) to the sales you make, words you use and how you related and made the client feel valued. You are even measured on how much you care.
Call centres have rules for every aspect of your day.
Call Centres are noisy. Beyond noisy they are crazy work environments. Then it all turns to crap when your trying to talk to a customer and your boss is listening to one of your calls only a few metres away. You hear the call and so does everyone else. My most agonising moments where when as a team, each week we listened to a team members call and graded it step by step. Hand on my heart I gave every call a 10 out 10. It was my small piece of not playing by the rules.
Call Centres love the group love, the one on one chat, let me sit behind you out of your view so I can watch, listen assess and measure.
Call Centres love to record your work not as a work of art but as a body of evidence.
You’re expected to be at your desk early, if a call drops in late in the day you have to stay late, but if you are a minute late or sick you are made to feel like a thief who is stealing from the Company.
At the call centre ( the one I worked in) you were expected to dress in corporate uniform. This is because somehow a suit and tie and business dress makes a difference. (No it doesn’t.)
Other Interesting Facts Re My Call Centre
A call centre is a work environment where you are surrounded by hundreds of people in a working space the size of a stadium but instead of being social you are socially isolated. The five minute “huddle” is only good because you don’t have to talk on the phone for five minutes and no, I never felt better for the huddle experience.
Irish are difficult to understand on the phone, particularly if shouting, in a panic, or talking quickly.
When you are rude, shout, and insist the agent do whatever on your behalf, think twice. Several people reduced me to teary moments, I’m not used to mean people shouting at me. I could harden up but seriously what happened to manners.
Big business takes your security seriously, so if your password is shit change it, or we can’t help you.
When you do one of those random surveys, after you have spoken to big business call centres, they ask you what you rate the call out of 10 did you know that 8 is considered a fail. Only 9’s and 10’s are acceptable.
What is this mini hell we have exported from around the world.
How Do People Stay So Long
These places become bearable, only because you build close relationships with the people around you. You have to, so you can keep faith in humanity. Like a war situation, you bond with your platoon, because they understand, they are doing the time with you. It’s not prison but it is pretty horrible.
People stay because they don’t have a choice. They do what they have to do, get paid just above the average wage to persuade them to stay. I could be wrong but I missed talking to the ones who loved it.
It Appeared That Nearly Everyone Is There Until, Because Off or While They…
When they employ a new group of staff, management appear to know that only a percentage will stay and expect a fall out rate that would not be acceptable in any other business.
This is a hard gig and seemingly only the tough or seriously don’t care stick it out.
The Indian man who was beyond rude then told me I was stupid and hung up on me – have a nice day because I have gotten over it, I may be stupid but you’re an asshole. Maybe I haven’t gotten over it because I still wish I could throw my shoes at you.
I Am One Of The Lucky Ones.
I had the luxury of saying thanks but no thanks before leaving. Even before I started, I knew I had a game plan, an escape route, I had a big hairy dream waiting to be embraced. A longer plan became only half a year, then only 103 working days. Too much I cried, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Even though I was making the best of it and giving 100% my very core was telling me it was wrong. My daughter waged that I would last 12 weeks I lasted 11.
Leaving has been the best decision of my year it will be hard to beat.
I was gutless and told them it was my Captain’s decision. I said that to play nice. I knew I needed to leave.
It Was A Place I Found Difficult To Reconcile
I worked hard to get this job so it felt good to be accepted. Eight positions eleven applications. It got to the point that each application was a control test on marketing me. I so wanted the job. They the powers that be, knew better than me, I just wore them down and they gave me the job. I should have stopped applying after the seventh time.
It Wasn’t All Bad
I had lot’s of good times. I actually loved many aspects of the job. Particularly in the 4 weeks of training getting to know the people I worked with. All where fun, intelligent and hard working. I enjoyed for the most part, talking to people on the phones but the job applied constant pressure on every call, so it made you hate it.
I wasn’t bad for the job I just wasn’t desperate enough. “How desperate are you?” Should be one of the first questions they ask in the interview.
Call centres are a reflection on modern life and many of its sins. I the consumer want 24/7 convenient service, I want a person to talk to me and fix my problems. Big business want to streamline and make a profit. Solution! the 24/7 call centre with cubicle workers tied to the phone.
My Take Away’s
Some things aren’t worth it, but it certainly has been a valuable experience.
Be nice to telephone operators. It’s that simple.
Rate calls 10/10 just because a Miss told you to. It will make someone feel good, probably yourself also, plus it’s easy to do. Think Twilight Zone and saving a strangers life, or at least them being paid a bonus they deserve. If the operator is from overseas insist on talking to their manager and say how happy you are. It will cost you an extra five minutes of your day but will do wonders on a far distant shore.
Record compliments as often as you can.
Appreciate your life, your job, your home life and the life you have. Why? because there’s always someone worse off than you and they might be working in your local call centre.
Scottish Author J.M.Barrie wrote: Be Kinder Than Necessary — Everyone You Meet Is Fighting Some Kind Of Battle.
So there you have it my exit interview complete. In my real exit interview I asked “Aren’t you going to ask me how to make things better? the “I don’t really care woman” said “No we don’t ask that.”
Fair play, I accept that.
As I said leaving was a good idea.
“It’s been a pleasure talking with you and may I ask are you happy with my service?”
PS If you are one who loves your job at a call centre, good for you. We are all different and I don’t mean to offend. You can do the job, I couldn’t sustain.