Wednesday 8 August 2018

Pilipina OptiMax

If you think that Bangalore is the call centre capital of the world, you are sooo yesterday and I need to update your racial stereotypes. Because, the person at the other end of the line is most likely to have been speaking Tagalog with the kids at breakfast. That's business process outsourcing (BPO) and it employs more than a million call centre operatives in the Philippines. That's 1% of the total [105million!] population including pensioners and infants. Apparently, the speak better, accent-neutral, English than elsewhere in the poor world.
If you're working for buttons in a call centre in Luzon or Manila and you have ambition to do better for your family, you might decide to take your fully-trained telephone manner to your cousin's garage and start your own business. Call centres do two quite different things. Either a) waiting for the orders or complaints to come in or b) cold calling an endless list of numbers trying to sell something that the callee doesn't yet know they need.

Empresa a) is subject to optimization: the company want to employ the fewest people [at the lowest wage] so that the customer is not made to wait an unacceptably long time. I'm sure that, in the instant gratification world, the time we are prepared to wait on hold listening to Greensleeves is diminishing. But you defo don't want to have your employees looking at the ceiling or chatting among themselves. Presumably the big places run on shifts because there are people awake 24/7 somewhere in the world. And I guess that more people come into work when the USA starts to wake up and finds their Amazon parcel hasn't arrived or they need a new smartphone. And there should be a hierarchy on the floor, beginners handling the routine calls; more experienced workers dealing with the rarer or more technical problems [thank you for your call, we value your custom, I am transferring you to technical support]; and I imagine that there are hard-nosed people who can take anger, contempt and abuse without losing sleep about it. I wrote before about choosing a nom-de-call, like Attracta Looney, so that you could leave the work at work

With Empresa b) you want, rather, to maximise the return on your investment in cold-caller salary. One way must be to set targets and identify an Earner-of-the-Week and let go those who consistently fail to deliver the fish. Two factors here 1) efficiency of the operatives = how many successful calls per billable hour 2) the cost per operative. The second factor is why there are fewer call centres are operating in Waterford - it's the minimum wage, silly.

I encountered the hierarchy on the cold call side this year, when I was set up by a 'junior employee' to talk to a 'penions expert'. That didn't turn out well for the Junior when his ambition sort of outstripped his ability.
Q. What's lowest form of life on the call centre payroll?
A. A robot!
Both His Blobbiness [self] and The Beloved have independently encountered one of these bottom feeders in the last week.
<Dring> <dring>
Your account with Eircom has been compromised, the sky is about to fall on your home, crushing your loved ones. Press 1 and we will protect you.
That business model must work. Some people, a bit simple, or technophobic, or groggy with sleep, press 1 and tumble into a rabbit-hole down which we were both too afeared to venture. The responders must be fewer [the robovoice is the opposite of empathic] than for a personable and enthusiastic real person. But The Company isn't paying the robot; only the workers in the second circle of hell. I presume that the latter will be calmly asking for credit card details, PINs and passwords as the only way to stop the sky falling now.  There is no illegal or exploitative activity going on wherever you live: that happens abroad.

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