Call center workers undergo intensive training in the different competencies before they go on board. These competencies are speed, communication, listening, attention, understanding, control, knowledge, computer literacy, teamwork, flexibility, stress tolerance, accent and voice.
A call flow is provided. This includes the standard procedures and information that the customer service representatives use in responding to their clients’ queries. But problem-solving skills are also necessary. As support service representatives, Che, AC, and Nice handle troubleshooting so they do not necessarily follow the script verbatim. They can adapt whenever the situation demands it. Che finds her job humanizing since she handles people’s problems. Despite the routine, Nice and Cris are always learning something new in their job. AC however finds each day routinary.
Virtues and Vices Developed in Call Center Work
Emotional control or the ability to refrain from overt displays
of aggression, capacity to endure difficulties with patience, and maintaining a pleasant disposition are valued qualities of Filipinos.9 The six women unanimously shared that they have developed patience in dealing with different kinds of people. Regardless of their feelings, customer service representatives are expected to sound happy, nice, and friendly to their customers. Among other service-oriented jobs, call center work requires more positive emotions from their workers and the suppression of negative sentiments. Calls are regularly monitored and the workers are evaluated based on their ability to comply with these standards.10 Because of the performance evaluations, they have learned too the virtue of hard work. Cherry likes the idea that she gets to be regularly evaluated because this challenges her to improve.
Working in the call center has its share of vices too. Che and Cris admit to smoking to relieve stress. Drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages have also become a habit for many call center workers. A study conducted by the University of the Philippines showed that though “risky sexual behavior is high among young professionals, this is slightly higher among call center agents than non-call center workers.”11 A later study conducted by the Ateneo de Manila University of 659 young call center workers (ages 15-29) in Metro Manila revealed the prevalence of engagement with multiple sex partners (90 percent for males; 70 percent for females), and in unprotected sex (73 percent for males and 80 percent for females),12 making them highly prone to HIV/AIDS.