A friend of mine, much to his chagrin, was duty-bound to study nursing in order to conform to what his parents wanted (a familiar but sad reality in many Filipino households). And being the good son that he was, he graduated with flying colors and eventually passed the nursing licensure exam. However, after four painstaking years of memorizing tongue-twisting medical terms plus an additional two years of hard hospital labor (as volunteers, which means you get no pay at all but you work in various killer shifts, and what is more damning is the fact that there are hospitals who charge neophyte nurses fees before they allow them to become slaves in their infirmaries, talk about one of the biggest ironies of work life), my friend and his family realized that thanks to the burgeoning world economic crisis, the future in landing a lucrative job in nursing looks bleak at best.

There is a massive influx of registered nurses today and that is the reason why local hospitals have the guts to offer sarcastically take-it-or-leave-it cellar salaries. And the suffering of local RNs does not even end there. The hiring process has become so stringent you may have to literally wipe someone’s ass in order to get hired – for a measly $170 per month. My friend, not wanting to be a part of the merciful demographics, decided to tell his parents that he will be applying for a call center job. What he got was a resounding “NO”.

The widespread perception on working in call centers is that it is a no-brainer job and many parents do not want their kids to waste all that they have learned in college by working at night, wearing a headset, and talking to angry Americans. The description is true, most call center shifts are at night because of the need to interact live with customers on the other side of the world which is on a totally different time zone, hence, the discrepancy in work schedules. However, representatives who provide customer service and technical support for customers based in Australia work during the day. The depiction of call center agents wearing headsets is also generally true, although there are other facets of customer support which does not entail verbally interacting with customers using the phones and these include email and chat support. The portrayal of call center agents as regularly talking to angry Americans may be partly true although there is no statistics yet on the ratio of angry callers against those who are not, and frankly speaking, it is also hard to discern whether a caller is angry or not.

But in the midst of all these negative feedback on the job of a call center agent, the advantages and benefits far outweigh the downbeat side of it. First off, do not construe this as a personal attack but nurses do get hollered at as well. In fact, they have to face angry patients and relatives of patients on a daily basis and on a more intimate fashion. I would rather sit in an air-conditioned room and listen to an American shout at me on the phone knowing that he is halfway around the world than feel the hot breath of a sick person on my face shouting invectives at me because he does not feel well. Second, the claim that call center work is a no-brainer is definitely the inexpert outburst of people who have not worked in this industry at all or those who have worked within the confines of a call center but have not had the opportunity to be promoted to other non-agent positions.

The truth is, the call center trade is one of the most dynamic industries in the entire planet. If applied to manufacturing and production, the call center system will push those industries at least a decade forward. Always gunning for the highest customer service scores, call centers utilize some of the most rigorous monitoring and coaching program in order to retain the trust of their clients. Quality attributes pertaining to calls have been strategically quantified in order to make the assessment program uncomplicated. Very few manufacturing companies make use of this quality numeric program and if company owners only knew how effective this system can be to their business, their company’s productivity would have tripled within a short period of time. The training progression in call centers is also topnotch. Most of the well-known contact centers enroll their potential managers to high-priced personality development and management training programs including Six Sigma certification, Cisco training, Microsoft accreditation, and a lot more, things that normal employees would not enjoy in non-call center companies.