Day 54: What is wrong with the call centers?

Photo: C. Claflin (Mom Fashion World)

On July 28, I called a 1-800 number to report my missing credit card (I know such a reckless rat I am! I know too, that it was just lying around the house somewhere but for the love of my life, I could not find it!) and I know exactly that the person who took my call was located in the Philippines. How do I know it was from the Philippines? Two reasons: the Filipino-English accent was heavy and when he put me on hold, he started talking in Tagalog (those of you who are working in the call centers, make sure that you push the button that plays music, while you put somebody on hold). So, when he picked the phone up again, I tried to persuade him to talk in Tagalog even if I know it is against their policies – well, he did not! Good for him.

I’ve had many stories about being on the phone, with a Filipino call center worker –some of which have brought memories and recollections of mother land, but that is another story to tell.

So what went wrong with this phone call?

It was not the worker himself who made everything wrong in this picture. In fact, he handled the call very well except that the internet connection in the Philippines was so slow, making him process my request longer than I thought (I almost hang up!)

What was wrong,  was the whole concept of call centers and outsourcing. Blame it to the immediate rise of power among gigantic companies. Blame it – maybe to greediness. Blame it all to Wal-mart and China. Blame it to the open world market! They are the ones who are responsible for taking out the value of a piece of merchandise. Gone are the days, when the Mom and Pop stores are busy filling in the orders of handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind items. They have since closed their doors due to fierce competition against the bigger chains.

What was wrong about the call centers are the giant movers of economy, scaling down their fiscal year budget in order to reward their executives with more perks, only to neglect half of their essential workers, including the troubleshooters  – the millions of competent call center associates.

Of course history repeats itself.

On August 6th, we went to the nearest AT & T store to ask for a replacement of my phone, after its screen suddenly blacked out. The store associate was very helpful, however when it was time to call the warranty company – an associate who claimed that they are in Arizona (but with an obvious Spanish accent!) the groaning and the eye-rolling started to set it. It took them forever (almost an hour) to get our shipping address right, the primary holder of the account and basic information that they have already asked at least five times during the last twenty minutes! When that was over, the At & T store associate said to make us feel better, “Thank goodness you only have a slider phone. Whenever we do this with smartphones, it takes us more than two hours to process the request!” TWO HOURS – and we are talking from an associate to supposed-to-be another associate from the same company being outsourced!

My husband murmured as we left the store, “This will drive their customers away!”

Maybe not – because they are AT & T – but the message is clear among the call centers worldwide, THAT:

Cheap is now the new standard.

Cheap is now mainstreamed. If you are not cheap, you are out!

Cheap is easily replaceable.

Cheap borrows (but never returns) originality.

Cheap steals everything!

Cheap is cheap.

Cheap is what is wrong with call centers! Cheap should be avoided.

Do you want to be cheap?

Daily with you,

- Alpha

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