On Call Center Agents

In the Philippines, BPOs have become the newest nursing to date. When "call center" is brought up in most conversations, negative connotations are automatically pitched in:

"Nursing graduates but ended up in call centers,"
"Degree holders but settled with call centers,"
"You just talk to people. What's so difficult with that?"
"Did not finish school, so he ended up in a call center."

Personally, I used to have the same mind-set, thinking lowly of call center agents. But then, after a year of working in a BPO company, I made friends with call center agents, and I thought otherwise. Was it their choice? Was it because it was an easy job to get into?

Why do people choose BPO companies? The answer is simple: the pay is really good. But when you get to the core of it and empathize with people who actually work as call center agents, you will find out that there are far deeper reasons than the high salary.

Some agents have families to feed, siblings to send to school, and cars or mortgage to pay. They are the breadwinners in the family, and they need the money to support the needs of their dependents.

Some agents are nurses. But with the current status of the health-care industry, medical professionals are compensated poorly, even volunteering and paying for the "free" services. When practicality is considered, getting a job that can compensate you well is a better choice.

Some agents did not finish school. But not all of them had the choice to go to school; some just did not have the resources to finance their education. It is not an easy feat working at night and going to school in the morning. Some may even have to sacrifice a good number of years to save money for their education, and saving money is not a walk in the park.

Some agents are degree holders. But with the current job market today, it leaves these people with no other practical choice: get a job that pays well. Why settle for a job that has a mediocre compensation when you can have one that can support your needs and the needs of your family?

You say that call center jobs are easy. But speaking in English effectively is not a skill that comes overnight; it is a skill polished through effort and experience. Working at night when your circadian rhythm demands for a sound sleep in the evening is not only difficult but also unhealthy; working on shifting schedules is also another story.

In a society where the government cannot alleviate the statuses of the middle-class and poor people, not even able to provide decent employment, we can't blame people on opting for BPO jobs over other jobs that could have been a better job fit or could have given them a better reputation. When we enter the real world, our choices all boil down to what is practical.

For people who are still adamant on their stand on call center agents, I understand that we are all entitled with our opinions. But let us consider the other side of the coin. We cannot judge people simply based on our own standards and morals. Everyone has their own back story. We need to listen.


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