Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stress-Busting 101 (More Tips)

As a follow-up to yesterday's blog post, here are more tips on how you can de-stress to keep your head above the water no matter how stressful things get at the workplace:
  • Pet your pet.

    Fond of pets? I am a sucker for dogs and kitties and most animals, especially furry ones. The only animal I loathe is crocodile. Given its vicious reputation and unsightly appearance, I don't think this advice could apply to it anyway LOL. Petting your pets has been known to release feel-good hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. Notice how you calm down as you gently stroke your pet's cute little head upon coming home from a hard day's work? This may hold true if you have a pet doggie or kitty, but crocodiles? I bet instead of lowering stress, you would get stressed all the more after the crocodile makes a meal of your hand when you try to pet it tee-hee.

  • De-clutter!

    Constant exposure to a cluttered environment eventually translates to getting stressed out. How? If you always find yourself searching for needed things(cell phone, books, checkbook, etc.), you needlessly up your stress level. I, for one, have been planning to de-clutter and rearrange my tiny makeshift library at home for almost half a year now(That long would you believe!). The disorderliness of my surroundings is not only unpleasant to look at, but it also makes it hard for me to better manage my time since searching eats up time, hence I am deterred from doing what I ought to do right away.

  • Down a glass of fresh OJ.

    OJ, as in orange juice. The fresher, the better. You heard it right, but actually, other citrus fruit juices also work in the same healthy way. Why? Research says that these Vitamin-C rich beverages contain special nutrients that work to drag one's stress needle down. Specifically, it is said to decrease stress hormones like cortisol. Don't like orange juice much? Take your pick from strawberry, grapefruit, and even sweet pepper juices.

Want to know the latest in the call center industry? Stay updated by checking out the blogs at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stress-Busting 101

Can you call your work “work” if it is totally devoid of stress? The fact that you are exerting effort and have to direct it to meet a specific objective given your resources and limitations automatically means you are stressing yourself out—though not needlessly. Even in small doses, a typical work day would always give you your fair(most of the time not) share of stress.

Being a call center agent, the moment we seat ourselves at our station and make our first call for the day, we encounter stress. From beginning to end, expect that the entire shift would be loaded with stress that I find it amusing how we manage to stay seated and focused despite being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I guess it all boils down to how we hold and process it in that determines our chances of staying composed while at work. Beyond this, however, we can do very well with employing effective and simple stress-busting techniques to help us better manage ourselves, hence keeping ourselves sane, competent, and functional. Consider these three suggestions:

  • Tune in to your favorite music as you tune out to the world.

    Listening to soothing music, or any kind that appeals to your fancy, automatically drags your stress needle down. When you tune in, you automatically tune out to the rest of the world, thus creating a safe and quiet barrier for your thoughts, devoid of the drudgery and sham posed by reality.

  • Breathe deeply.

    Taking deep breaths—inhaling and exhaling, works to de-stress you in a jiffy. A quick and ready remedy when you feel you are about to burst, this method works to incorporate oxygen in your system while it gradually calms your spirit.

  • Go on a laugh trip.

    Laughter is indeed the best medicine, especially in dispelling the bad effects of stress. When you guffaw, your mind releases “feel good” hormones that work to relax your already tense system. Whether in company or in solitude, laughing always has its merits. If others chance upon you laughing by yourself and think you've gone nuts, shrug it off and just laugh at them. It's a whole lot better to be thought crazy as you are working to keep yourself from losing your mind, than to have totally lost your marbles and be thought of as sane(Now does that make sense, or what LOL?).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Zoning in on Stress

I find it noteworthy to mention the many different health problems typically beleaguering call center agents. Having worked the phones for almost a year now, I too succumbed to these woes at certain times, which eventually led to my filing sick leaves when my circumstance got out of hand. And since getting sick often poses problems that could affect one's standing at work, it is only appropriate that effective measures be taken to address specific sickness issues. Of these, stress ranks as the most common.

As you may all know by now, idling at work for call center agents is never possible since we are constantly monitored by our team leaders/ supervisors. Being conscious of this automatically puts the pressure on us; by getting pressured, we become stressed. Though stress can work to our advantage, as it motivates us to put our best foot forward, too much of it can lead to adverse health consequences—the most debilitating and potentially immediate of which is burn-out. In the long run, excessive exposure to stress can lead to more palpable physical health problems like heart disease, erectile dysfunction, nervous breakdown, and fatigue, among others.

Doing away with stress totally is flat-out impossible. At best, we can manage it, so we don't get too exposed. But how? Until my next post people. I'm already nearing stress-overload and by this my mind could no longer function as well as it should. Besides, it's already late in the morning(LOL). Time to call it a day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Weather Got Me

I am not feeling very well today. Early this evening as I was about to get up, I felt feverish and nauseous. Though the thought of absenting myself for tonight's shift crossed my mind, I opted not to, thinking that I would feel better after a hot shower and a steaming cup of coffee. Well, my spirit did get lifted a little. On the whole, I felt a bit better and even managed to get through the rituals of readying myself for work.. Upon getting to the office, however, the nausea and bad feeling resurfaced. I found myself struggling to fulfill my tasks. I felt so out of it that attempting to concentrate was futile. I want to write something more substantial for today's post, but sad to say, this feeling of “being under the weather” has gone from bad to worse and now...Until my next post, guys. My hips are screaming for rest, and my senses are all on red alert. I am left with no choice but to call it a day.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Practical Tips on Harmonizing Work and Home Life

Thought control is key to keeping oneself sane. When your marbles are perfectly intact in your head, you are rest assured of staying in control of the ins and outs of your life. By this, it only follows that overall you are able to harmonize the two most important aspects making up your life: home and work.

Many years back, I never gave the slightest thought to the importance of balancing work and home. To me, they were one and the same. However, as the stress piled on with the passing of the years, I found myself struggling to keep myself together. Hardly able to cope with the demands of my career and responsibilities at home, I was on the verge of tearing my hair out LOL. Luckily for me, and just in time, I came to a point whereby it dawned to me that the only way to get a hold of myself and keep my life normal was to do something about my dilemma.

Something? Something as in definite measures to keep the control—and the best and only way to get started on the right foot is by reorganizing my messed up brain. How?

  • Work matters should never be discussed once you are outside the office threshold. Likewise, home issues should not be entertained once you get to work.

  • When troublesome thoughts cross your mind and it should not be there(You're doing calls when the image of your recent spat with your sister early this morning crosses your mind.), put the breaks on by taking a deep breath and diverting your mind.

  • Before you shift your focus(as you are on your way to work or home), program your mind early on.

  • Acquire de-stressing techniques that work for you and jive with your personal preferences.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why It Pays to Listen

Being a good call center agent is not all about being a good English speaker. The main focus of our profession is managing an effective two-way communication between our customers and ourselves. The process of information relay determines the success of each correspondence or transaction. Although we have been given a script and the proper training, the actual process involved hinges on our ability to “listen and speak” as we get our information across. These abilities are interchangeable. Given that there are exceptional speakers and listeners who are born with the exact skills needed to become excellent communicators, those of us who may not have been granted such gifts by birth right always have the chance of developing them provided the right training and education.

During our training, most of us may have focused more on harnessing our speaking skills. However, good speaking is rendered useless if we do not know how to listen well. Hearing and listening should not be equated, for they are different. Most people capable of hearing may not know how it is like to listen, and those who may be devoid of hearing ability may uncannily have an unusual knack for listening—which is understanding with their minds and hearts that is. For call center agents, listening involves not just hearing your customer out but understanding his needs. Doing so enables you to respond properly and communicate in a way that best serves his and your interest.

Nonetheless, sometimes in a desperate need to end the day, as we are already frazzled by stress, it is a common mistake to just speak like a phone recorder, droning on without even noticing that we are talking at the same time as the person on the other end of the line. Once this happens, no exchange of information takes place, hence the process is botched. By this, we are hampered from meeting our goals. And when our goals are not met, we lose a potential customer, thus we fail to serve our purpose.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Not-So-Hilarious Comedy

There would always be those days when nothing seems to go right. From one annoyance to another, each catastrophe(mundane but unquestionably unnerving still) brings with it another reason to validate the thought that first popped in my head the second I opened my eyes when I awoke: “I don't think I should go to work today.”

But as tempting as it is to stay in bed until the next morning and continue what should have been a beautiful dream that got interrupted just as it was starting, the demands of reality(bills, responsibilities, the need to keep the stability in my world, bills, family needs, bills, personal needs, and again more bills) forced me to get up and drag my heavy arse to the bathroom to ready myself for work.

When it rains, it pours.

The first booboo was an idiotic occurrence brought on by forcing myself to get out of bed when I barely slept: I drifted to sleep the moment my rump touched the throne. Though idiotically hilarious, the repercussions of this event resulted to a series of more unfortunate events that although rib-tickling to observers, were destructive on my part. When I realized what had happened, it turned out that I had fallen asleep for a good half hour while attending to the call of nature. Alarmed and fully awake, finally, I was left with only 10 minutes to prep myself—bath, brushing my teeth, getting dressed, fixing myself and my things—before my brother starts yelling that I get my butt in the car ASAP, as he himself is running late on a business appointment.

And just as I had expected, this nightly drama that plays itself out almost every work night, did take place. By the time I had just slipped into my clothes, my brother was already running frantically to the garage while yelling that I rush and be downstairs in half a minute. Without thinking, I grabbed my bag, headed downstairs, kissed Mom hastily before stepping out, and ran straight to the garage. As I was running, the thought that I missed or forgot something nagged at me. However, with the car wheeling out of the gate, I could not be bothered to even spare a second to think it through. Only when I was comfortably strapped to the front seat next to him, and we were already driving along Edsa that I found out what it was: I had forgotten to put on my shoes.

When it rains, it does pour—and the day had just begun...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Importance of Voice and Expression

Conversations done over the phone allows us to interact with another person, albeit indirectly. As a call center agent, the primary lessons inculcated in me during my training bordered on the significance of the best and most proper way of conducting myself during a phone conversation. Besides the need to polish my English speaking skills, two important factors cannot, or should I say, never be dismissed: voice quality and proper expression.

On Voice Quality

Face to face conversations would involve voice tone, gestures, and facial expressions as part of the communication package. Over the phone, the absence of physical presence automatically means the voice would take center stage. Believe it or not, confidence level is easily detectable over the phone. Even if the person you are talking to may not be outright conscious of your underlying feelings, thoughts, or state of mind as you speak, believe me, he or she can tell beneath the words. Because neither one of you can see each other, voice quality is of utmost importance. If you already have a good speaking voice to begin with, that is a major plus factor. If otherwise, you can always work on improving it. All it takes is a little effort and patience. Listen to someone possessed with a good speaking voice talk (usually a DJ or colleague or anyone you know), and notice how he or she uses his or her voice to express his meaning along with the way he or she enunciates each word. Take note and start practising with this as a guide.

Proper Expression

By expression, I am not actually referring to the kinds of words you use, but the manner whereby you express yourself over the phone. And by no means are you supposed to sacrifice these qualities of expression at all cost: clarity and conciseness.

  • Clarity, I say?”

    Yes, I say so. A no-brainer actually. If you tend to eat up your words or the line is choppy, then it is only rightful that you do not come across clearly, meaning whoever you are talking to hardly understands a word that you say. Should this happen, then your effort and time come to naught. In layman's term; wasted, useless, balderdash, etc.

  • Why be concise?”

    Short, sweet, and meaningful is the way to go when doing business calls. Beating around the bush needlessly by ranting too much about things that are out of context from the message you are supposed to deliver, could lead to two unwanted possibilities: Either the one on the other end falls asleep due to extreme boredom, or he/she slams the phone on you as he/she finally loses his/her temper. Be nice. Be pleasant. Be direct. Be concise. A little dilly-dallying like talking about the weather would not hurt provided you do not overdo it. A little pleasantry segueing to the exact point of your call is part of the whole script. But overdoing it...As the old adage goes, “Too much spice, spoils the broth.”

Want to know the latest in the call center industry? Stay updated by checking out the blogs at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ode to the Weekend

It's the last day of the work week—and I could never be happier. Although the waiting has taken no longer than the usual five days, it feels as if I've been waiting for this day to come forever. I know I love my job; however, there are times when everything just becomes too much that I find myself trying my best not to puke at the thought of answering yet another phone call of the millions of calls, I am expected to take as a call center agent.

With the weekend here, the only thing I can think of is catching up on my lost hours of sleep. Maybe, after I have recharged my spirits and energy, I might ring my friends and arrange for a fun gimmick, either at the mall or any nearby province that offers splendid natural views and a wide open space ideal for a picnic. If we're up to it, we might try hiking or swimming at a nice, cozy resort somewhere. Anything that takes my mind off work, albeit just for a short while, would do perfectly. Two days of not having to see the three divisions of my work station and overhearing the transaction of the two colleagues flanking me, is a much looked-forward-to blessing. Really. Musing over this thought brings a smile to my face.

Two days. Two perfectly peaceful days. That is all the time needed to help me unwind and recharge for the coming work week.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guts, Age, and Being a Call Center Agent

These days, when it comes to being a call center agent age is never an issue. Whether you are just a 17-year old fresh out of high school lass/lad or a retired 45+ year old in need of a good paying job to supplement the family income, call center companies, especially ITI Philippines, keep their doors wide open for you. Just like in love, age has nothing to do with how you would fare in this line of work. It all boils down to your determination to step up to the plate and live up to company expectations.

Scared of having to communicate continuously in English? Don't be. Although this is common (I myself was on the verge of fainting during my first conversation with an American customer.), speaking English fluently is easily attainable given the right training and effort, particularly on the part of the trainee. Good thing, at ITI, they gave us the right kind of training needed, which was handled by the best trainers who set us off on the right path towards becoming successful call center agents. They laid the ground work for my acquiring the needed skills for the job. To further ensure that I reach my goal, I diligently practiced on my own by conversing with my pals in English, and brushing up on my grammar skills by reading more materials written in English.

Last but not the least, I mustered every ounce of courage I got to do what needed to be done. Well, every challenge questions our abilities and degree of personal courage. Without the latter, however, no ability, regardless of how great it is, would ever become useful. Why? Letting our fear of rejection or failure overtake us automatically impedes our progress because it keeps us from using our abilities to the fullest. Even if we trained ourselves hard, bleeding ourselves to death just so that we can get exactly the right kind of skills and training for the job we want, in my case as a call center agent, if we do not have the guts to apply them, then it all amounts to nothing. Makes sense, right?

Want to know the latest in the call center industry? Stay updated by checking out the blogs at

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Face Exasperation with a Smile

What I hate most about speaking with people, whether online, over the phone or even in person, is that they can't be expected to be nice 100% of the time. By nice, I mean civil, polite, even-tempered, and ethical in their way of communicating. As a call center agent, training yourself to be nice is an understatement. Professionally, being ethical and putting your best foot forward in conducting yourself while speaking with someone is imperative—and this is mandatory, regardless of the temperament or attitude of the one you are speaking with. Though exasperating, staying calm and in control of the situation, which means keeping up with your job requirement, is the only way to stay ahead of the game—if you want to stay the dutiful and productive call center agent you are that is.

But keeping your cool when the one on the other end of line is speaking like a total brute can be downright challenging. Before you let your blood boil over and give in to the temptation of telling him off or slamming down the receiver, in an effort to deafen him, albeit temporarily; listen up, count to 30, flash a big smile, and take these tips to heart:

  • Fighting fire with fire would only worsen the situation.

    Take a deep breath, and address the situation as calmly as you can. Resolve to end the conversation in the nicest, most professional, and calmest manner possible. Fighting back would only blow the situation out of proportion. Worse, it could lead to uglier consequences that could affect your good stead at work.

  • Politeness and being engaging in your conversations are the primary requisites of being a good call center agent.

    If you can't keep up with these requisites, then it only goes to show that you are not cut out for the position. Even if you are compelled to raise your voice and be upfront with your feelings, yielding would put you at risk of not only losing a potential customer, but also getting kicked out much sooner than you think.

  • Smile and just let it pass.

    Dealing with acid-tongued and/or boorish clients are just among the many identified challenges confronting every call center agent. Do not take it personally, and just resign yourself to this inevitable truth. No matter how rude they get, do not think of their remarks as anything personally directed at you. After all, though you speak with them on a one-on-one basis, the fact that you are corresponding with them for a specific business-related purpose means the conversation should be treated impersonally, on your end especially, right from the start. So just shrug it off, and get on with your task with your foot still put forward.

Want to know the latest in the call center industry? Stay updated by checking out the blogs at

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Phone Etiquette 101 Part 1: On Making Calls

It is perfectly understandable that to be a call center agent, one must be able to make calls. In other words, know how to use a phone. Though apparently a no-brainer, particularly due to the prevalence of advanced communication technology these days, being able to pick up a phone receiver and say “Hello” is not all there is to being a qualified call center agent. As a means of communicating, proper etiquette, which I think should be more aptly categorized as an “art form” on its own, must be applied if one is to succeed in this line of work.

Setting aside the emphasis on acquiring that distinctive accent identified with native English-speakers, phone etiquette speaks of having the right manners as two or more people try their best in communicating with one another. By communicating, I mean getting the message through in the clearest and most effective way possible—and needless to say, this goes way beyond mastering the art of picking up the phone and saying “Hello.”

To refresh our memories on the “Art of Making Calls” (With the stress we take on at work, losing sight of the basics can be downright easy, don't you agree?), here is a concise list of refresher pointers call-center agents should review from time to time:

  • It all begins with “courtesy.”

Whether on the phone or in person, courtesy is a communication must no one can dismiss, regardless of reason. Never mind if the one who answered you woke up on the wrong side of the bed and is venting his annoyance on you. What matters is you keep your composure and stay courteous at all times, at all cost.

  • Make sure you dial the right number.

Dialing the wrong number may not bother you if you are the one who did it. But for some people, especially those on the receiving end, the disturbance can get on their nerves, hence you automatically botch your chances of making them your prospects. Check your list of numbers carefully. If you have poor eyesight, get the appropriate glasses, so you cut down your chances of erring.

  • As soon as someone answers, say your greetings and give your name first before asking for the person desired.

This is self-explanatory already. Done for the sake of courtesy, you come across as ill-mannered if you proceed with asking for the person desired without introducing yourself first. And it goes without saying, that coming across as unethical automatically botches your chances of getting on the good side of your customers.

Want to know the latest in the call center industry? Stay updated by checking out the blogs at

Friday, July 8, 2011

Up and About All Night Long

The call center agent position can be aptly defined as an all-nighter job rather than a day job. It only makes sense since most call canters here operate at night to accommodate clientele in the US, whose daytime happens to be our nighttime. If you are not a born night owl like me, adjusting your body's natural system to be productive during the graveyard shift can prove quite troublesome—especially during the first one or two months.

To be a “call center agent”...

As if the time adjustment is not challenging enough, being a job—the security blanket that makes survival in the material world possible, I have to be on my toes all the time, as staying productive is a must if I were to remain in this game. At first, I thought chugging countless cups of coffee each night would cut it—and I was gravely mistaken.

Yes, the caffeine keeps you up during the first few nights. After a few weeks, however, your system gets immune to its effects that it wasn't long before I found myself struggling to stay awake and attentive. Should sleepiness strike during the peak hours of your shift as you are attending to a barrage of calls, believe me, the experience is very far from comfortable.

Forcing oneself to stay awake is not the only main objective call center agents or wanna-be call center agents must strive for. Keeping a close eye on the state of our health is likewise mandatory. From a logical standpoint, it does make sense. After all, how can you expect to continuously burn the midnight oil when your oiler is busted?

Practical and Healthy Stay-Up Advice

Cutting to the chase, I googled informative articles about practical ways to stay up and healthy while thriving in the graveyard shift. Below, I have compiled a few important and definitely doable health-wise pointers.

  • Keep your system running by making sure that your body is well-fueled.

    By this, you should never let yourself go hungry. Eat at the right time. Be wary of your food choices though. Piling on the junk food may sustain your energy needs for a time, but the excess salt and additives command a higher price in the long run: unwanted health complications. Stay on the healthy side by eating nutritious balanced meals.

  • No match for the sandman? Fight drowsiness by taking short walks.

    Get outside the office for a few minutes and inhale some fresh—pretend it is; never mind the fact that we live in a polluted city—night air. The walking would do your body good, for it shakes up those stiffening muscles. Plus, the change of scenery helps de-stress you, even just a bit.

  • Take power-naps.

    Power-naps are short naps lasting no more than half an hour to a full hour at a time. For hardworking call center minions like us, the short amount of time we spend in dreamland suffices to recharge our system and spirits. In taking them, however, we only have to make sure it is during our break time or else...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Call Center Buddies

It's exciting when you get to work with good friends. As a call center agent in a prestigious company in Makati, I take pride in performing at my best regardless of the weather, the snotty clients and my night shift work period. I always have my friends to cheer me up when on the job.

I just found out that my childhood best friend also applied for a call center job in Cebu. We have not seen each other in decades although Facebook has made us reconnect. And the good news is that she's currently training in the same company where I'm working at now. Can you believe that?!

Time to close my laptop now and sleep.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Are you cut out to be a call center agent?

Beating the summer heat could never be done more practically than visiting job fairs situated in the many malls dotting the metropolis. Rather than idling around and killing time by window shopping, why not make the most out of the free time by looking for good job opportunities?

Fresh grads or college students wanting to get a cool job experience as call center agents, can really benefit from job fairs. ITI Philippines, as part of its on-going expansion, participates in several job fairs this summer(For schedules, please refer to previous blog entry.). They have lots of seats available for aspiring call center agents.

How does your English sound?

Speaking English in almost the same fashion as native speakers do is the name of the game. But with ITI Philipinnes, even if your English is not that up to par just yet, they would still open their doors to you and give you the right training needed before setting you off on a regular career as a call center agent. En route, you can personally brush up on your English speaking skills with these easy do-it-yourself tips:

  • Get started with self-evaluation.

    Given that it is hard to stay objective in evaluating your own English speaking skills at best, you should solicit the help of a trusted friend to evaluate you. If this is not possible, however, try recording yourself speaking in English. All you have to do is choose a specific paragraph in English to read aloud. Then record using your cell phone or any available gadget you have capable of doing the job. After recording, play back and listen closely. Jot down your own assessment of how you sound like as you speak. For this, take note of your diction, particularly your pronunciation and grammar.

  • Work on developing your speech skills.

    After objectively evaluating yourself, the next step is to address your weak points. If you have trouble with pronunciation, practice more and listen to English conversations to learn how words are spoken. If it is grammar, give yourself a refresher course by poring over your English books(even those you had during your elementary years would do). To better familiarize you in preparation for the interview and the actual job, practice talking in English with your friend.

Interested in a call center career? Want to get more helpful pointers directly? Questions? You can email me at Also, check out the cool job openings of ITI Philippines. If you're up to it, you can directly send them your resume at

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Job Fair Events This May 2011

It's still summer and some of the newly graduates I know are still unemployed or currently looking for jobs. I recently shared to them a list of job fair events I got from a friend. Check out the list below 'cause you'll never know if you'll get your dream job anytime soon from one of these events:

  • May 17-18: Trinoma Mall & SM North, Quezon City
  • May 19-20: Amigo Mall, Iloilo City
  • May 23-24: Robinson's Galleria, Mandaluyong City
  • May 23-24: Metrodome, Bacolod City
  • May 24-25: Eton Place across Galleria
  • May 26-27: Starmall, Mandaluyong City
  • May 30-31: Market Market, Taguig City
Do you have questions about job fairs and trade exhibits? Feel free to email me at ;. Or I can refer you to this company I know that's currently in expansion mode nationwide. Email them your resume to

Happy job hunting!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Call Center Industry Growing Bigger In 2011!

According to data from the Call Center Association of the Philippines, local call centers generated roughly $6.3 billion in revenues last year. A 15-20% increase is estimated to fully occur this year, as more and more multinational companies continue to set-up outsourcing operations in the country.

More than 400,000 college graduates enter the labour for each year according to a research done by ITI Communications. Barely five years ago most graduates from various provinces had to flock to Manila to get the jobs they desired. Most newly graduates still do every year, but those who choose to work for offshore voice-BPO companies now have more than Metro Manila-based sites to choose from.