Monsters

Before Netflix and Xbox.

There was once a time when Monster Inc. ruled the TV. Not Xbox, not Netflix. Just Monster Inc. It played a lot that I could almost memorize the lines, I almost know most of the characters. Marcus would watch this Pixar film day in day out and his reactions remain the same as if it is his first time every time. And I would pretend the same thing. I would act scared when the robotic kid would shriek during the scare simulation scene. I seem to miss those days.

Marcus has since upped his entertainment. It’s now Xbox with Call of Duty series leading his choices–shooting game, I know. More so recently that we finally had success in redeeming the Xbox Live Gold prepaid subscription which by the way was purchased out of his coin bank. Yes, he had P2000 out of it. It was a matter of talking with Microsoft’s chat support agent who incidentally was Filipino. The solution was just to change the region on my account from Philippines to United States and voilà, no more error. Nada. Nil. Gone! Funny but Microsoft’s current online FAQs related to this error do not mention anything about this very simple solution. I wonder why.

The activation happened on a Labor Day. It was while I cherish my first ever legit Labor Day time off after a long time working in the BPO. This time there is no need to compete with anyone for vacation slots, no need to fake sickness or get creative with alibis. It’s one of my few new benefits. A day off away from monitoring calls all day is always a bliss. It was one day sans the monsters disguised as bad English, moody agents, rude customers, and anything in between. I felt bad that I ended the chat after realizing too late that I need to answer a survey for the very helpful Microsoft chat support agent. Thanks a lot anyway dude, you made our son very happy. Now we know what to do when we redeem another code when his subscription ends 12 months after. 
***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Dark clouds ahead on a hot summer day.)

At The Other End Of The Line

Newbie outbound agent’s life.

 

Who says D) All of the above?

 

 

***

I am among those who like posters and typography. I love looking at menu artworks especially that of Starbucks which is one way of being seen in front of the store without having to spend a cent. I am also interested in corporate photography that are used in slide presentations–usually compensates for boring lectures. All these, however, require tools to accomplish which is the reason my ideas remain inside my head. I can’t buy the software, I can’t buy the camera.

Fortunately, I finally found time to check out Canva.com which offers an online tool for anyone who has a poster idea. The website has a range of layouts and a number of typefaces to go along with each design. The poster above is my first creation using its free service. I need a back office job.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Next stop, find a tarpaulin to place the house on sale.)

Shooting Two Birds

A worthy purchase–my first non-free ebook.

Start reading something new again this year. Watch the American Sniper this weekend. These were two personal plans that until today seem hard to achieve. But after two straight days of sleeping around midnight and waking up three hours after–yes, my almost four years of BPO life has taken over my normal sleeping pattern, and honestly I miss the days when I sleep uninterrupted from night until the right breakfast moment–I finally did myself a favor.

It’s Sunday morning and I just shot two birds with one stone. Immediately after reading the sample from my Kindle for Android app I decided that today’s the perfect day I swipe my plastic card to pay for my first ebook ever and at the same time know the story of an American legend. Although it’s not really through a movie, yet, I am quite sure that with this book I will learn more about how a man shot his way (pardon the pun) into history.

Two birds with one stone is something I don’t know if Chris Kyle did manage to do using a sniper rifle but I will know soon. So if you’ll excuse me I have a day to find out. I’m now on page 19.

***

Interestingly, sometime in November last year–also on a weekend, same unholy hour–I purchased my first Google Play movie. It was Mark Wahlberg’s Shooter–also a sniper movie.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It’s cold outside. The pan de sal is calling.)

Outsourcing in the Business Process Outsourcing industry

It cannot be denied that outsourcing has become the key to the survival and competitiveness of most businesses. In my quest to be part of the call center industry, I discovered yesterday that even the business process outsourcing providers have resorted to such practice–outsourcing.

One of the tweets I marked as favorite, a couple of weeks ago, was from a job posting company. The tweet states, ”Call center agents with high salary. Accepting fresh grads!–People Solutions.” Upon clicking its link, a more detailed and attractive proposal comes up: “We are offering a salary package of PhP 20000 to PhP 30000 to applicants who will successfully pass our one-day hiring process.” Despite having some doubts on the veracity of the salary package, I sent my resume nevertheless–any bum would be compelled to try anyway. Less than a week later I received an SMS. They want to interview me.

The appointment date came but my excitement ebbed as soon as I reached the venue. Having applied in two different call centers in the past, I was expecting to find another setting with carpeted floor, cozy and professional-looking reception area, and well-dressed customer service agents frequenting the free coffee machine. Sadly, on the contrary, I arrived at a building that looks anything but corporate – unless cost-cutting measures have made monobloc chairs an acceptable fixture in BPO offices.

It’s a good thing, however, that the disposition of the account manager who faced us somehow made up for the bland appearance of their headquarters. Interestingly, we (applicants) soon learned from her that after the brief orientation and group discussion, hiring personnel from different call center companies will soon come over to interview us further.

It became clear that People Solutions is after all outsourced by other BPOs to recruit potential agents like us. The young and bubbly personnel explained that she holds four accounts but stressed that they are not a recruitment agency which charges a fee to any of its applicants. At least.

In the evening, I was on my way to being hired by a second company. Unlike Convergys, I passed the initial interview, quiz, typing test, and the Versant. After about eight hours inside the cybermall, I finally reached the final interviewer who seems to make me so aware that the position, customer service representative, I am applying for is an entry level job which could make my past work experience and education meaningless.

Sensing her disbelief that someone with 15 years of diverse experience in the semiconductor industry, not to mention having recently completed an MBA study, will apply for such job, I explained to her my reasons and long term plans in the call center industry–that the requirements of most BPOs for team leads have changed, that the fundamentals of the business start with CSR/TSR, that I am envisioning myself stepping up in the near future, etcetera. But quite frankly, in the back of my mind, my courage to be firm with my answers is due to the fact that I’m still thinking about the Php 20000 to Php 30000 salary offer as seen from the JobsDB.com ad. Minutes later, the thought bubble bursts big time.

The Teleperformance personnel was shocked when I told her about my expected salary. She said that I’ll be disappointed to know that I can only receive half of it and that the signing bonus indicated on the job posting doesn’t apply to them. I was floored.

Sensing my frustration, she advised me to reconsider the offer and be back within a month or else I have to re-do the whole process again which means staying there for another eight hours along with other CSR hopefuls. Let’s see. So close yet so far.

***
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I’m expecting another call tonight.)

Relearning English the Call Center Way

In my quest to learn English I started attending a call center training that will go on for one week. Although I prepared myself to be corrected, all that mind setting did little to help suppress the shock I got the moment I heard our trainer speak. I haven’t heard such good and fluent English spoken in person for a long while.

The fluency of our trainer got me humbled and speechless. It made me feel that I was totally ignorant of this language the whole time and this may be because even if I have been blogging a lot for a couple of years already, I never had regular English conversation and if ever I had such chance to speak with someone at work, the quality did not come any near to what I am hearing inside this class. I am not saying that there is none in our current company who can speak English impressively but it is just that there is a very big difference compared with the call center standard. And it has something to do with what is called the “American thwang.”

According to our trainer, learning the American accent or pronunciation—funny that even this word is hard to pronounce—will be the majority of our training on top of my favorite grammar discussions. We also practiced listening skills and yesterday, we did tongue twisters that by the end of the class my tongue was just as tired as my mind.

Our trainer also suggested that we evaluate our typing skills by downloading Typing Master—I discovered can still do a decent 50 wpm with 95% accuracy for English words.

There will be three more sessions to go and I am eager to learn more. As painful and embarrassing as it may seem, I will open my mind to what is being taught, for this week I am relearning English. I kill me.