Confessions of a call centre girl – here’s a tip from a first year student on how to turn a disaster situation to your advantage…

What began as an unceremonious firing turned into an unusual job find which led to an unexpected promotion.
Mirielle Crocco shares her insight into the inner workings of a call centre worker.

How I Got Here

you are fired

Last March, after coming home from a cinema date with my boyfriend, I had the extreme misfortune of suddenly finding myself jobless – fired via email.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, this just so happened to be an extremely busy time for me academically – I was juggling a cascade of deadlines on a number of challenging assignments and was already up to my eyeballs in stress.
Not exactly the ideal time for a job hunt!
After almost two weeks without an income, I finally landed on something – ‘market research interviewer’.
To be perfectly honest I had no idea what kind of a job it was, but it sounded promising, so I went in to the orientation day.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that I would be cold calling in a call centre.
While the idea of my doing this was uncomfortable at best, I had no choice but to swallow my pride and give it a solid go.
After all, that mobile bill isn’t going to pay itself.

The Place

call centre interior

I work in an office that takes up an entire floor – it consists of two big rooms separated by a canteen, toilets, training rooms and a long hallway.
The main areas are populated by pods and a mishmash of different computer screens, office chairs and supervisor desks.
It looks a bit like something out of a low-budget 90s film.

How to get a Survey

Staffing-clip-art

It takes a certain mindset to continue dialling after being violently hung up on and called a “silly cow”, or worse, repeatedly.
As it turns out, people don’t like being called out of the blue by someone they don’t know even if they aren’t selling anything (who would’ve known it?).
You’d think more people would want to give me their opinions on the political climate of the country or take part in a government sponsored study that has the potential to help their business, but no.
Half the time I got people telling me they can’t take part because they’re “really busy just now” which, as we all know, is code for “f*** off”.
This is where the negotiation comes in. I found this intimidating at first because I didn’t want to come off as coercing anyone.
But I learned that people are more likely to say yes when approached with a snappy to-the-point introduction delivered in a confident voice and casual manner.
That’s a seemingly mismatched combination but I was surprised at how many achievals I ended up getting with enough practice and coaching in this area.

The Job

call-centre-agent

The gig is market research – surveys upon surveys. We are not selling anything, we don’t ask for bank details, in short we are not a scam.
The job oddly reminded me of my time as a film/TV extra in New York – show up and follow directions, almost insultingly simple.
However, unlike the cushy NYC sets with their crafty tables and makeup teams, this job actually required a certain degree of negotiation skills and resilience.
Never did I know how many different kinds of telephone surveys could exist on such a variety of subjects targeted at businesses, private landlines and mobiles alike.
These include organisations wanting to make sure their service is up to par, the government trying to get some feedback to see how they can help businesses in the future, political monitors, TV studies, etc…etc…etc…
Basically, you show up, find your pod and seat, plop yourself down, log in, and start dialling.
Easy peasy depending on the job you’ve been allocated to but it’s not always as simple as that.

My Rise To Glory

business and education concept - smiling businesswoman stepping on chart bar

I grew bolder the more achievals I got and started talking to respondents with authority, borderline bossy (while keeping it professional, again another mismatched combination).
That made the whole thing seem that much more important than it actually was. And it got results.
What’s more it got me noticed.
I began getting requested for certain projects, and praised for my professionalism and about six months into the job, I got my first promotion – from humble telephone interviewer to big-shot assistant project supervisor.
Living the dream, like.

Conclusion

Law-Student-Jobs (1)

While it’s not my life’s passion to work in a call centre, I must admit that as far as student jobs are concerned this one is golden.
The flexibility is amazing and what’s more the only people I have to deal with are fellow employees, most of whom I’m either on good terms with or have never talked to ever.
I also managed to build up some valuable skills here, especially since my promotion, which has helped me fluff up my CV and I also learned something pretty neat – sometimes getting fired will get you promoted.

by Mireille C Crocco