Successful Call Center Agents

Successful Call Center Agents

By: Ms. Suzanne Lu-Bascara
| Site Director, SPi CRM Dumaguete

What made you decide to be a call center agent? I am sure that when you were 10 years old, you did not look up into the stars and said … Someday I am going to be a call center agent. No, that is usually reserved for dreams of being a ballerina, or a scientist who will find the cure for cancer. Maybe it was a wish to be like your parents – an accountant, a teacher, a doctor. But certainly not a call center agent.

Seriously, what made you decide to take up the CCS NCII Program here at Silliman University?

I am sure you have your reasons, and I bet all of them are practical. And these are very valid. The BPO  industry is the most dynamic one in the Philippine economy today. The call center sector is expected to generate $25 billion in revenues, giving 1.3  million direct jobs and around 5 million indirect jobs.

But I am pretty sure that there are still people around you who doubt your decision. Why be a call center agent?

Well let me tell you something. You are on the right track. That is right. You made the right decision. I myself am an example of this. At 10, I wanted to be an astronaut but of course, I ended up being an accountant. Reason – it was the hardest course in Silliman University during my time. I loved the challenged. In my career, I became an auditor, a banker, a software analyst and finally I came home to start SPI here in Dgte in 2004. Fast forward 13 years later, I am still here, and I am the Site Director of SPI CRM, a call center with 1,500 agents. And every day, I come face to face with people who have chosen this profession.

In my interactions at work, I am proud to say that I work with call center agents, a group of people who are helpful, who are goal oriented, and who contribute to the community.

At the core of being a call center agent is a person who wants to help others. Your training has given you skills asking probing questions to better understand where the caller is coming from. You have been taught the tools needed to resolve problems and you have been equipped with the right words to show empathy.

They say call center agents face problems. I say call center agents are faced with the chance to be of help to others.

This is also in line with your trainng here at Silliman University. You were taught via, veritas, vita. So when you go out there, help others and shine for the world to see God’s goodness.

A call center agent is goal oriented because the work environment is filled with opportunities for growth and development. I have seen agents being promoted to a higher to team leader in a year. There are many avenues for you to display your leadership skills, your people handling skills and these lead the way to promotions. Success at work translates to a more confident individual who contributes much to the community and the society.

A call center agent contributes to the community because he/she is working in an industry who is making our city prosperous. Do you notice how the business scene in Dumaguete is more vibrant? The streets are bustling, people are spending, and tourists are flying in even if it is rainy season.  This is not how Dgte was before SPI started the BPO industry. Believe me, things were so different 13 years ago. Graduates had to leave Dgte to find jobs in Cebu and Manila. There was no mall. We only had a few shops to choose from.

Thanks to the BPO industry, there are currently 9,000 employees working in the different BPO Companies in the city. 9,000 people earning good money, and spending this good money making other establishments like restaurants, boutiques, convenience stores and the like flourish.

This is actually the reason why Dgte is booming, people have money to spend and this spurs economic activity. And knowing this, the call center agent gets a sense of fulfillment, that by doing her work, she is making our city better.

So what makes a successful call center agent. If you ask me, here are three things which will make you stand out. The right attitude, having initiative and giving the personal touch.

The right attitude. Another way of referring to agents is customer service representative. And that is your job in a nutshell. To serve customers. Having an attitude of wanting to help, regardless of how difficult a caller is, always gives you the winning edge.

Initiative. Most of the challenges problems that you encounter are actually exceptions to the rule. The customer wants something done which is not the normal transaction. As an agent, you need to employ your creativity as well as your critical thinking skills to come up with a way to address the problem and make it a win-win situation. Take the initiative, go the extra mile.

Personal Touch  With the influx of new technology, we now see centers using chat bots and artificial intelligence to handle repetitive, low level tasks. Some folks see this as a threat to the call center agents’ job. Again, we will refer to this as a challenge. It is a challenge to show that in the end, personal touch is still key to a satisfying relationship with the client. If the caller makes a joke, what does the robot say? HAHAHA…. Your laughter and energy is so much more appealing. Thus inject your personal touch in your calls.

My ingredients for success, the right attitude, initiative and the personal touch.

So there you have it, you are in a great industry, and moreso if you join a great company, like SPiCRM. And I am not saying this because I work there. I work there because I think it is great. It gives me the chance to make develop young leaders, it has given me the chance to talk to you today. And it is a lot of fun there. For example, tonight, I am putting on a grass skirt and dancing hula for our employees for our Christmas party.

Before I end, allow me to share the story of my friend Jeroel. Jeroel came from a family of teachers, so naturally, at age 10 he looked up to the stars and wished to be a teacher like his mother. However, circumstances found him finishing a business degree. He wanted to immediately get a job so we he found himself working at a Call Center in Manila. The work was hard, the expectations were high, the clients were demanding. But Jeroel persevered. He was an optimist at heart. He went through his day with a smile and a ‘happy to serve’ attitude.

With his aptitude and attitude he moved on to become a trainer and eventually became a manager. You may ask, what happened to his dream? Well, he has fulfilled it. He is now a teacher to call center agents. Teaching them leadership and management. He even has time to organize events and competitions and has been invited by different schools to give lectures. Indeed, becoming a call center agent has a way of making your dreams come true.

So, if you want to start your career in the call center world, join us, Team Purple. I am looking forward to seeing you. Congratulations and God Speed. (Ms Suzanne Lu-Bascara graduated valedictorian in both elementary and high school in Silliman and obtained her degree in Accountancy, magna cum laude, from the University. A certified public accountant, she was part of the core team that established the Dumaguete site of SPi. She delivered this message during the graduation of the School of Agro-Industrial and Technical Education for the certificate course Contact Center Services NC II, held December 1, 2017 at the Instructional Media and Technology Center. )