By Madiha Javed from Wah Cantt
Pakistan’s call centre industry has established itself to be one of the most popular and successful sector of the country. The reason behind this success is that it has created vast employment opportunities for youngsters who have very little or no work experience and skills.
In a country like Pakistan, where unemployment rate is high, such job opportunities are bound to be welcomed by job seeking individuals.
Fresh graduates take this opportunity as sunshine towards a bright future. Call centre jobs are easily accessible and act as a good starter to generate income. If you have strong communication skills and feel you can talk to people over the phone with authority and confidence then that’s all what you need to get a job with a call centre.
Once you get the job things look quite exiting. Till the trainings are undergone it remains a fun, but once that’s over the real work begins. It does get boring and frustrating in a few weeks as you start the routine of answering one call after the other. Especially when most of the times customers are calling in to abuse you over different issues including balance deduction without his/her knowledge, network issues and so on.
When you are unemployed and get a chance to work at a BPO, your communication skills are enhanced and you learn tactics to handle calls efficiently, but still when the pros and cons are compared, its long term benefits are far less.
The repetitive nature of most call centres can be both good and bad simultaneously. If you’re feeling down and don’t want to go to work any day, the repetition can help you as you will not have to put in too much effort in your work. The negative side is that, at some point you will get bored of the monotonous nature of the BPO or call center industry.
I still remember the days when I worked at a call center and used to come home after work. I simply hated answering calls from anyone or even seeing someone’s name appear on my cell phone’s screen. I became rude, irritated, and began hating myself. There were severe impacts on my family life and I had to practically abandon my friends circle.
Job seekers take this opportunity as a first step towards the corporate world, but unfortunately only a few actually end up successfully shifting to a better job; most of them remain stuck in this job forever.
Long hours of work, permanent night shifts, incredibly high work targets and loss of identity are amongst some of the major factors adversely affecting the lives of employees affiliated with the call center industry in Pakistan.
The nature of work in call centers is such that an agent is made to work on a chair, continuously for nine hours, whereby he/she is forced to read a pre-scripted document at the start of a call for every customer. This tedious routine literary made me a psycho, insomniac, and rude individual with a disturbing my life as a whole. It’s one of the looniest jobs in the world as you are surrounded by your colleagues and friends constantly talking on the phone in 8 to 9 hour long shifts, with just 15 minute tea breaks and 30 minute lunch breaks in between.
This frustration, tension and depressive nature of a call centre job is driving our youth into adoption of unusual and abnormal behaviours and poses a serious threat to the society and is weakening our roots and culture.
In my opinion, the worst part about working at a call centre is the overly strict rules and regulations. Generally, if you are more than a few minutes late you receive a negative ‘point’. If you get a certain number of ‘points’ you will be fired instantly regardless of how good you are at your job.
In some cases things are even worse than words can describe. I myself worked at a call centre of a cellular company in Pakistan and I and was deprived of any employee benefits besides my salary. In addition to this, we were also dispossessed of basic employee rights, for instance, we were not given a single penny for working on public holidays. Taking a day off even for medical reasons is an uphill task there.
We worked in 9 hour long shifts and were given just a single day off after 6 days of work which is extremely tough; other call centers generally give at least two days off weekly.
It is indeed a challenging job that requires tackling different customers which include good, bad, abusive, moody and at times aggressive clients. You require a tactful approach to address the needs and issues of the customer.
A lot of sacrifice and commitment is required from an agent to work during night shifts and to alter his/her life to adapt to a new lifestyle; hence I salute all CSO’s (Customer Support Officers) for adjusting to such a tough lifestyle.
One year work experience with this industry is enough. A CSO gets far away from his social life and develops habits of rudeness and frustration in life. A CSO requires a lot of patience even when a customer is annoying and using abusive language. You end up taking out this frustration in your life outside your work place which impacts your relationship with your friends and family; please keep in mind that no job is worth more than these closely knit relationships.
Opting for a job in a call centre might not be the best job in the world, but it is better than being unemployed and sitting at home. However, I sincerely request youngsters not to consider it as a long term carrier.