Call Center Life: New Brand of Culture

Monday, January 25, 2010

call center culture

The call center industry is the new frontier. To be part of this industry has its unique challenges. It is a heavily metricized job where your chance of keeping your job is highly rated with KPIs or key performance indicators. Performance, attendance, resolution, and call handling time are heavily tracked. As mentally challenging as it already is, there are also physical and emotional demands that the job requires. Work hours can drastically change from day shifts one week, lean for the next days, to a graveyard shift for the coming weeks. There are also emotionally draining calls from irate and frustrated customers that you have to absorb in every shift. With this cycle, you may experience ending your shift feeling like a walking, emotional time bomb.

Like in most corporate jobs, it is easier to just love the idea of getting off work as soon as you can if you are in the call center industry. A lot of call center agents would prefer to get away from their work as soon as their last call for the day has ended. Multi-tasking skills in this job is like a superpower. Believe me, working in a call center often makes me want to run away too right after my shift ends. Even superheroes run away, for a lack of reference.

It's not the night lights that places us, corporate zombies, into the spotlight. It's everything we had become when these corporate giants engulfed us with their financial resources. We seemed to develop and exude that same vibrance seen in neon-lighted signages of shops and establishments this industry helped flourish around it. These lights are entrancing and captivating just the same as the industry that feeds it.

Working as a call center agent places you in the category of people with odd working schedules plus the irony of a dynamic lifestyle. This also does not free you from being part of a different cultural hype unique to this industry.

For instance, call center agents from Convergys are known to be coños, which means that they are most often heard conversing off-shift in the local tongue mixed with over-articulated English fillers. This way of speaking may have been developed because of the company's strict 'English only policy' during working hours.

Outsiders may think that most call center agents speak predominantly in English mixed with the local dialect the entire day. Although this is rare for those who have been in the industry for a while but admittedly, this is not surprising for new agents. Old agents are well-adjusted to the language shift. New agents will still have to adapt to this language-shifting hullabaloo.

I belong to a technical account for Dell Computers. This arena is a highly technical environment where geeks and enthusiasts thrive. In this environment, a wide variety of hobbies like photography, biking, backpacking, gaming, etc, are being shared with everyone even within and across teams. These adrenaline junkies can go fill their weekends or day-offs with outings like playing tennis, badminton, flag football, etc. Just recently, we trekked to Mantalungon and climbed Osmeña Peak, Cebu's highest peak. Still not satisfied, we hiked 6 hours to the ravines and slopes traversing to the other side of Cebu until we reached Kawasan Falls of Badian. It's like everyone just seemed to try to get the life they seem to lost somewhere along the way.

Enough with these Indiana Jones wannabes. Let's get on with the Blair Waldorfs, the Gossip Girls and Boys prancing the corporate arena of a call center world.

Fashion forwardness may be more apparent in a customer service account. Styles can be superimposing for men and women alike in this part almost mimicking a Tinseltown. You may also think you're in New York or Paris at times when men wear scarves over leather jackets, and women wear leather gloves and high coned heels. This in vogue vibe differs for every call center and for certain accounts. It's like being in high school once again in this world. You're either in or out.

Sleeping during the day is normal in this job, just as another kind of normal alongside this is attracting new studies. This culture is morphing into a lifestyle of extremes with high-caffeine and nicotine intake, extra-marital affairs, and hook-ups. Young, stressed, and trying to figure things out - what can you expect?

The bottom line is - the call center life and call center job developed its own culture. Suddenly, it is now a mixture of New York, Paris, Las Vegas, and the Malaysian jungle. You get the gist.

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  1. We are the new age vampires!
    We feed on caffeine and nicotine. Yeah, s-e-x too. Oops :D

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.



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