Archive for the ‘CallCenter Issues’ Category

House Bill No. 6921 For Call Center Agents: A Redundancy

November 3, 2009

This new proposed bill in Congress for call center agents revitalized my fervor in blogging today as I can’t help but be amused as how its details are so similar to existing labor laws already. I was planning to blog about a different story today but I felt discussing this bill’s flaws presents more urgency.

For those unfamiliar with House Bill No. 6921 or the act ensuring the welfare and protection of business process outsourcing workers and the recognition of their rights as provided for in the labor code of the Philippines. You may click on the link above to read the lengthy speech made by Mr. Raymond Palatino describing “deplorable” conditions in our workplace. Contrastingly enough, the subsequent bill presents no unique substance that can impact our welfare and can be considered academic.

House Bill No. 6921 For Call Center Agents: A RedundancyOur BPO labor force is the industry’s most precious asset no doubt. However, we need no special bill to reiterate our basic rights as citizens. We do realize that we are special in some ways but we need no special treatment apart from our counterparts in other industries. We just need to supplement existing laws with creative ideas that will cater to our needs as workers and as citizens. The root of this problem lies within laws’ enforcement and not caused by lack of legislation.

*credit goes to targana.com for the image.


To stress my point about this House bill’s redundancy, let me point out several sections that are already in the Philippine Labor Code.

House Bill no. 6921 Sections 13, 14, 15 and 16 – Regarding regular hours of work, overtime and night differential. This is already stipulated in the labor code of the Philippines Articles 83 to 87.

House Bill no. 6921 Section 18 – About working on holidays. This is already found on LC Book 3 chapter 2 articles 92 to 94.

House Bill no. 6921 Section 8 – Concerning right to self-organization, to engage in collective bargaining agreement and to participate in democratic exercises. This is lengthily discussed in the original Philippines Labor code book 5 chapter 2 articles 248 to 259.

I can go on and on but fact of the matter is any good lawyer can clearly say that provisions in this house proposal are just duplicates of existing laws. As I have said above, the problem lies with awareness of personal rights by workers themselves and enforcement. Based on experience in the past years I’ve worked as a call center agent, supervisor and call center manager, people are rarely aware of our laws concerning labor especially with the details. Additionally, BPO companies that are most likely to break existing laws are small operators.

Because I want this composition to be constructive as well, I will cite some creative suggestions that will have an impact for our fellow BPO workers.I’ll also name areas of the law where we need stricter enforcement in the business process outsourcing industry.

Suggestions:
1. Set aside a day when employees can enjoy a rest day if in case they need to be working on legal holidays. The rest day must be as near as possible to the holiday date so they can enjoy being with their families. Some companies already implement this by using the “skeletal system”.
2. Transparent system of wage computation, disputes and resolution.

Additional suggestions post-writing:
1. Create an audit system for labor compliance of BPO’s – by regular visits of special auditing reps to unsure compliance.
2. Ensure managers and supervisors are updated with the labor code through testing and continuous education.
3. Abolish call center associations’ blacklist of call center applicants.

Enforcement are needed in the following areas.

1. Issues with wages and back pay.
2. Issues with bonds and non-compete clauses.
3. Granting of leaves
4. Rest periods or breaks.
5. Due process in corrective action proceedings.
6. Timely payment, reporting and reflection of SSS, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth contributions.
7. Issues on absences due to medical conditions.
8. Timeliness of regular salaries.
9. Abusive officer conducts.
10. Right to be employed without prejudice among call center association members.

As you may see, there are more enforcement issues than loopholes in our laws concerning BPO workers’ rights. As our numbers grow in the future, people that are able to raise issues for our benefit need to be in tune with our needs instead of acting only upon unsubstantiated reports. We need creative ideas and stricter enforcement, not restatement of the obvious.

We Need A Call Center Agent Party List in the Philippines

November 3, 2009

An anti-call center congressional privilege speech made me realize our call center agents in the Philippines need representation in Congress more than ever. There’s no better time to elect representatives to our government’s law-making body than now as our ranks continue to grow exponentially.

call center agent party listWhen I first heard about a call center agent party list group trying to get COMELEC approval for the 2010 elections, I scoffed at the idea because I saw no point in it. I considered call center work as privileged because it is exclusive to those who can pass stringent tests and keep up with the grind to be able to survive in it. Compensation is rewarding for those who have the personality and diligence. Certainly with such lofty status in our society, we won’t need any legislative help from our government. However, today I changed my mind after reading this anti-call center speech by Rep. Raymond Palatino from the Kabataan Partylist group website. It opened my eyes how other sectors of our society treat our vocation with such indignity and relegating our work as second-class. As call center employees, we are the ones who power this multi-billion dollar industry. Even call center companies and our government would certainly agree to that statement. And by God, we should never let others marginalize us by treating our work as undignified.

The good party list rep’s speech was full of stories about our work and how ghastly our situation inside our companies have been. However, truth of the matter is I didn’t find anything inhuman about the type of work we do as he has pointed out. In my comment (pending approval) at the blog post, I indicated that while our situation is not perfect, the work we do is not meant for everyone and the demands of our type of work is no different from our counterparts elsewhere around the world.

It can also be noted that the speech delivered way back August 17 was lengthy and curiously detailed, it did not present a sentence of solution or at least an idea how Congress can act for the improvement of our call center employees. I think everyone would agree that such privilege to speak in front of our law-makers should at least contain something they can work on and NOT just implore our lower house to act. Sadly, its just how things are around Congress. Even demi-congressmen are imbeciles who are left to deliver non-sense without clear and concise solutions.

call center agent party listThis is why I felt we as Philippine call center employees need true representation in Congress. Our numbers are in the hundreds of thousands and surely we can meet the 2% of total votes required to secure a seat in Congress next year. COMELEC requires party lists to represent a sector of society that is under-represented and marginalized. I really believe ours is both. If the professional “sabungeros” and gays feel they need to be represented, I’m doubly convicted we need it more. Surely everyone in the call center industry would agree that as our numbers continue to grow, we will definitely need credible persons to raise our concerns through our legislative branch of government.

The Best and Worst Call Centers In the Philippines

November 1, 2009

Find out which call centers rank best and worst based on employee feedback from the most active call center forum in the Philippines.This observation is purely based on opinions expressed by active members who have first hand experience with call centers mentioned and do not reflect how these companies operate.

Call Center Employee Satisfaction SurveyPinoyexchange.com, through the years has enjoyed massive following and participation from call center agents and even prospective call center applicants. Many people visit the forum to get feedback about job openings, call center experiences, call center salaries and such. Simply put, it is one of the most popular meeting places for everyone in the industry. Even call center managers have come to monitor threads concerning their call centers to gain feedback both popular or alarming. It is probably a place that can make or break PR for call centers in the Philippines.

For the past few years, I have also monitored the exchanges in this forum in order to gauge how much appeal do certain call centers have from within their ranks and also from call center applicants. In this light, I have come to observe which are the best and worst in the country.

The worst call center in the Philippines

1. Firstsource – this company is very notorious among forum participants. Their first thread created in the forum was eventually deleted by the admins because it was riddled with atrocious feedback from Firstsource employees themselves ranging from call center mismanagement, serious work ethics problems down to illicit officer relationships. Many have stayed clear away from Firstsource because of these. However, many are also hoping that things have changed in the past year and are now looking for positive feedback.

2. West Contact Services – is probably an all-time “favorite’ amongst forum participants because its lack of hiring process organization, laughable company perks and some bad management feedback. According to participants, West Contact Services experiences one of the highest attrition rates for call centers in the country.

3. One Global Contact Center – another notorious employer according to avid forum members for their unfair business practices concerning wages, clusterf*cked processes and unprofessional officer conducts. The original thread for this call center company was deleted for overwhelmingly bad feedback. The present thread for this call center now is riddled with one warning after another from forum members not to even consider this company.

The best call center in the Philippines

1. Convergys – seems has decent good following and loyalty from present workers and even from former employees. Most feedback rings of good management and pride of their culture. Some ex-employees have even regretted leaving Convergys.

2. Etelecare – The former Etelecare (now Stream Global Services) is also well-loved by people who had first hand experience working for them. Good structured organization, rewarding performance incentives and excellent culture puts Etelecare in the same mold of Convergys. It is, however, saddening for some employees that Etelecare has been recently bought out and they are worried that the culture they’ve tried to preserve may soon die along with the buyout.

3. IBM-Daksh – is well-admired by its employees for its strong processes that support career growth for employees. Run by Indian executives who are big in processes IBM-Daksh provides above average compensation and bonuses to performing employees. You won’t find much forum participants blasting IBM-Daksh for negligent, unfair or worrisome business practices.

The silent-type call center companies

="worstWiPro, WNS and VCustomer – these are relatively new call center companies in the Philippines which haven’t caught much attention among call center agents. It’s either they’ve prevented employees from providing honest feedback through 3rd party channels or most employees have really come to love these three that they don’t bother telling the world about it. Incidentally, these are major Indian BPO’s and 2 among the three have topped recent employee satisfaction surveys in India.

Call Center Disclaimer

Call Center Agent Retention: The Right Way

October 14, 2009

Call center agents resigning, or in more appropriate terms, staff attrition is a major concern for all call center companies not only in the Philippines but more so in India. Outsourcing companies have to deal with a “revolving door” situation where 15 employees leave and 10 employees come as replacements (although not necessarily in such exact order) in a never ending cycle which raises cost to operate and leaves the operations floor with a considerable void in skills.

It is no secret that call center work, especially at the rank and file level, is very demanding and repetitive. Many aspire for call center work but only a few are qualified. In those few selected, companies would later on find out fewer had the personality to actually keep up with the work demands. This problem roots itself from the actual hiring process. Call center companies have focused on benefits, salary and perks to encourage applicants to apply. However, only a few of these companies will actually focus on and drill down on these applicants to ensure they are fit for repetitive work during the hiring process. Call center agent retention shouldn’t be a predominant problem if only call center companies would ensure successful candidates are the right fit for the job not only of skills but also of attitude and personality during the the hiring process from start to finish. It is fairly noticeable in the job ads that call center work are the most enticing because of potentially huge salary, great benefits and programs. All of the these outsourcing companies pay huge sums of money to let job seekers know what a great company they are. Let me ask you a question now. How many of these companies actually spend on even a small space to tell job ad readers know that this work entails repetitive actions, following strict regulations and coping with stress in dealings to actually deliver satisfactory work? ZERO. Better call center agent retention starts at the very beginning of the hiring process. Informing potential applicants of the realities of call center work will allow companies to only reach “targeted” prospects who are already informed of the nature of the job both good and bad. Call center companies may feel they are not getting as much candidates worth their money to post an ad when they do this but at least they can be assured that the candidates who do step in their doorsteps have been informed of the work realities. Targeted hiring is key. Making sure you only sift through applicants with the right skills and mindset can save you the headache of dealing with attrition later on.

How do you best retain the people you have now? In my experience as a team leader, I felt my role was crucial in keeping my subordinates within the company. In this one call center that I worked for two years ago, there were demanding tasks that the management was expecting from my agents. My agents were asked to perform tasks that they had little training for nor inclination to do so.So much so that I felt we were setting them up for failure. However, during my stay I never had anybody quit on me so did my colleague. Today, I came to a conclusion that we had a huge part in keeping our teams intact because I made sure we had good working relationships with our subordinates. In addition, our teams members also had close working relationships with each other and that endearment may have played a role in making them stay. Studies have shown that retention factors like these can always trump reasons to go find “greener pastures”. Introspectively, I also realized that my very good working relationship with my boss at that time made me stay and aspire to be better with the work I did. I’m not saying companies need to keep good bosses to keep people inside but rather ensure to foster an environment that encourages open communications, good feedback structure and camaraderie. People may not always get the bosses they would like but companies could at least make sure bosses have the right attitude, mindset and personality to keep the people they already have.

Here is another good call center agent retention article you may find interesting:

Best Practices in Call Center Recruitment: Stop Trying to Understand Why Call Center Representatives Are Quitting

U.S. Credit Crunch Affecting Philippines’ BPO industry?

October 30, 2008

Whoah! It’s been almost a month since I wrote something. Wow! Has it been that long? Anyways, I’ve been busy here and there with almost little “me” time left. Busy, busy busy…

I’ve been thinking about what to write for the past few days and this U.S. economic problem got my attention recently because I’ve learned that the Americans’ money problems has reached our shores and the BPO industry in particular. Tell you about it later.

Unlike common misconception about us “call center people” that we are oblivious to our surroundings and we don’t know and care about what goes on with the world, I’m particularly keen on economic news because it helps me analyze the conditions, climate and future of our industry here. It helps me understand the “whole picture” and everything that might affect my job in one way or another. It’s on of the traits a manager needs to acquire to get ahead.

Recently, I’ve heard that problems with the Wachovia Bank in the U.S. has somewhat affected Wachovia call center’s operations here in Alabang, Philippines. A good source from one of the recruitment firms tells me Wachovia has temporarily stopped hiring people because the company is actually losing clients/accounts recently. Or was it Genpact? In any case, these are things that I’m particularly concerned about.
In the coming months when we usually see a number of call centers ramping in the past years, things are definitely going to be different. Don’t expect the same conditions primarily because most companies in the U.S. are expecting low sales during the holidays. Majority of people in the U.S. will be spending less due to economic and money worries. Less sales mean less calls, less calls mean less people are needed on the phones.

I’m going to throw back a question to you now. Has your call center company seen the bad effects of the economic crisis in the U.S.? Kindly share and leave a comment! Thanks.

Call Center Survey Time Again!

August 7, 2008

It’s that time of the month again! The last time we had a survey was about which call center company is the worst in terms of employee satisfaction. Respondents overwhelmingly concur Teletech takes the cake. However, the rest of the votes were spread evenly among West Contact Services, Teleperformance and the “others.”

This month’s survey shall tackle employee confidence for their company. Just to let everybody in on things, most U.S. companies are “tightening their belts” in the land of milk and honey. Even Starbucks slashed 12000 jobs all over the U.S. just last month and closed down 600 store outlets. If the trend continues, we may well soon feel the economic crunch here in our call centers in the Philippines because so much of what we have here depends on the economic climate over there. I’ve already been hearing quite a few accounts closing from different call centers here and there.

So the survey question is, are you confident of keeping your job despite some very concerning developments in the U.S. and in your call center company? Answer yes or no and if you’re kind enough to leave a comment, please do! Click on the comments link below. The survey is on the sidebar. Thanks!

PeopleSupport Bought By Aegis BPO

August 4, 2008

Hey guys and girls. I just got bombarded with emails about this latest news to hit the Philippine call center scene. It seems PS, after a long battle and refusal to be bought in or more appropriately a hostile takeover by IPVG months back, is now again on the trading block and things are looking good for a $250 million dollar take-over/merger ( depends on who you ask ) by Aegis BPO from India nonetheless. Here’s a small excerpt from a news snippet:

Aegis BPO, part of the Indian business conglomerate Essar Group, said it will buy Philippines’ back-office outsourcing group PeopleSupport Inc. for $12.50 a share in a deal worth $250 million.

In a conference call, Aegis said the transaction will be funded through Essar’s existing resources.

On completion, PeopleSupport will be delisted and the new company will be called Aegis PeopleSupport, Aparup Sengupta, global chief executive and managing director of Aegis BPO, said.

Aegis PeopleSupport will become a wholly owned unit of Aegis BPO and the deal is expected to complete in the third or fourth quarter of 2009.

I wonder how the PS people are reacting to this. The last time I wrote about PS, there were some violent reactions about their standings and how I wrote about them. Getting bought out inevitably does have mixed implications on all affected parties. Share your thoughts please!

Read about the news from trusted news sources below:

India’s Essar Group to buy U.S. firm for $250 million -Reuters

India’s Aegis BPO buys Philippines’ PeopleSupport in $250 mln deal – Investor Interactive

India’s Aegis BPO to merge with Philippines’ PeopleSupport -Forbes.com

India’s Aegis BPO to merge with Philippines’ PeopleSupport – Tradingmarkets.com

Goodbye PS na ba for some of our friends there?

Business Process Outsourcing: Is The Philippines Too Dependent

July 7, 2008

I’ve recently read a news headline quoting President PGMA discussing how she thinks BPO will offset the increasing gas and commodities’ prices but I can’t help but wonder, is that all the Philippines is right now? Is BPO the only thing keeping the Philippine economy afloat?

Maybe we, especially our leaders, are depending too much on the BPO industry to save the economy. Unwisely so. The BPO, with all its great promise and good things that our country has reaped for mildly sustaining it, is not forever going to be a sunshine industry of the country. Remember, the biggest reasons why BPO companies come hear are the relative relatively cheap labor, decent infrastructure, pool of qualified individuals and government incentives. Our money is relatively the same value with the Indian Rupee and India is definitely way ahead of the Philippines in terms of manpower pool. With these reasons alone, I don’t think these BPO companies will ever have trouble moving to OR back to India.

And then there’s China. With all the advantages that the Philippines has kept steady in order to attract foreign BPO investors, China can match it and even present itself as a way better low cost destination for BPO in the near future. Other countries are, in fact, building themselves up to get a piece of the BPO pie, even in Africa.

In conclusion, I think it is way wrong to totally depend on BPO alone. Our leaders should not make it as a flagship industry where we brand ourselves as a top BPO destination and make our country’s living out of it. Sooner or later, some other country will rise up and “take our candies.” We should instead be promoting and throwing more government support towards industries that are already inherent to our country. Agriculture and Tourism will provide more jobs and sustain our economy longer because it is not dependent on the factors that affect BPO. In my opinion, the people leading us are just looking at the wrong direction towards sustainability.

Call Center Survey Summary

June 20, 2008

Survey question: Which is the worst call center in the Philippines?

Voting tally: 33 readers voted on this survey
West Contact – 7 votes
Sutherland -9 votes
Teletech -11 votes
None of the above – 11 votes

Yesterday, was the end of theover-a-monthlong call center survey I started and I found some interesting observations with it. First let me thank all of those who participated. The feedback the survey got will definitely inspire more survey in the near future. It was amusing to find people giving their honest opinions about their selected thumb’s-down. We also got some flaming from a couple of people who were upset that their call center was included. I’d have to say this was the more amusing part. A couple of readers even found this blog as a venue to argue about someone or something. You can read about all the funny call center comments here.

My observations:

1. It looks like Teletech seems to get the same amount of votes as with the rest of the other call centers not included in the list. No one really gave a specific comment about what’s not-so-good about Teletech so please leave a comment here on if you’ve been from Teletech or much better if you’re currently working for them so people can get an updated observation.

2. The rest of the choices aren’t too far away either. West gets 7 and Sutherland 9 which I think shows that we’ve made the correct choice of listing these in the call center survey. I drew these choices based on the observed feedback from one of the more popular Filipino forums online.

3. It was a good thing there was a good sould that provided positive feedback for West Contact Services. I just wished all rest could have provided some good points as well.

Lesson learned: We should all remember that like humans, call centers intrinsically good-natured. No company should be in business just to dupe their employees or customers. Most importantly and take it from me, sticking with your company for longer than you should would always be better. Unless they want you out ofcourse. :D

Call center survey – What’s the worst call center

May 12, 2008

It’s time to conduct a little survey on who’s the worst one around! hehe… The purpose of this short data gathering is not to put down anybody but rather bring the feedback online.

So many people online have been searching for the “worst call center in the Philippines” which probably shows people are starting to look at feedback from other people regarding which call centers provide well to their employees and who are or who have been the butt of complains based on former and present employee feedback.

I have been reading on a lot of complaints from call center employees in their forum at pinoyexchange.com and taking queue from my reading, it looks like the top are West Contact Services, Sutherland, and Teletech so let’s include them on the selection. Please feel free to make a comment here if your choice is not on the survey on the list. It would also help if you can elaborate your experience about the company to help others be informed. Links about articles written on a call center company is encouraged. The survey may be moved on the sidebar on a later date.

Thanks for your participation and we encourage positive feedback as well.


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