So what do you do?

Another nightmare day at the call centre. Despite having our hours back we were overwhelmed, it seems that too many people have left without being replaced. This is pure bad management, not just in my place either. One thing I can never understand about the call-centre industry in general is how badly it blase it is when it comes to retention of good and experienced staff. There seems to be an ‘anyone can do it’ attitude when it comes to call-centres. Sure it is one of the few jobs these days that doesn’t ask for much in the way of qualifications, but not anyone can do it well and it can take almost a year to be proficient in all the various systems we use. This alone is a case for looking after staff, but I think the prevailing culture is for managers see us not as individuals with a set of useful skills, but as parts of a machine which can be easily replaced.

There is also a woeful lack of progression, especially in a small to medium sized operation like mine where you might wait the best part of a decade to be promoted to the ranks of admin. Even our HR manager when she was doing our inductions made it clear that she didn’t think of the call-centre as a career choice, more of a stop-gap like bar-work or restaurant work in other words something to keep you afloat until something better comes along.

If you work in a call centre you dread the moment at parties, or other social gatherings where people invariably ask “so what do you do?”.  It really is a horrible thing to face, most other jobs have some sort of status attached, even working in a shop can be cool if it’s selling the right sort of thing like clothes, records or I-pods. As a teenager, or even in your early twenties people would always ask what sort of music you listened to, although also designed as a social sorting mechanism this was something much more democratic, but as an adult it is all about what you do; So what do you do? Run away maybe, or more usually you try to bury it deep in amongst other information “well I do a bit of writing, a bit of photography, but y’know to pay the bills.. well I sort of, y’know sort of just work in a call-centre really. Oh yes it’s just for a bit hopefully I’ll be getting out of it soon.”


One thought on “So what do you do?

  1. Well, put in other words, it sometimes sounds better…
    Like if you say that you work in “customer services” rather than in a call center… Also “technical support” sounds wayyyyy better than what it actually is. I’ve noticed that since I’ve moved on from being a “customer service representative” (filing complaints from people who were dissatisfied with the taste of their biscuits and wanted vouchers to be sent to them to cover for the fact that their expectations of the product weren’t met) to “tech support operator” (spending hours trying to explain to users that if they create a word document with 500+ pages, it WILL crash the application at some point, no matter what), people kind of think that I’ve moved up the social ladder.
    Well, it’s true that the skills I’m gaining doing technical support will be more helpful when I’m out of the call center than the ones I developed in the customer service cc but still…

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