where are they now: update #15 – call center misery

Remember the reader who was miserable in her job at a call center? Here’s her update.

I no longer work at the call center. I was able to get my numbers up and pass the probationary period. However, later in the summer my numbers started to suffer again. There was a week were I wasn’t feeling well and spent a lot of time away from my desk and went home early one day. That week messed up my numbers for the whole month. My manager had me convinced that I was about to be walked out and fired because of this one metric being low. My other metrics were all well above average. My co-workers were telling me not to worry that my manager was a jerk and “just like that” and that I wouldn’t be fired. To be sure, there was one day where I was honored at a team meeting for meeting all of my numbers and having high QA scores and the very next day another meeting with my manager about how poorly I was doing. He had me very worried for my job and I’m really not a worrier. The required time off continued through the summer, and even increased. 

Staffing was done by the “traffic” department, who looked at call volume and staffing and approved time off, etc. (not by my manager). I worked 11:30 am to 8pm Tuesday through Saturday. I got a notice in my mailbox that starting in October, my Saturday hours would change so that I would work until 10pm. This was because I was a “closer” on Saturdays and for the holiday season we would be open later. I was pretty ticked off about this as I had never been told that they could change my schedule on a whim, or that I was a Saturday closer, and I wasn’t too happy to be spending my Saturday nights walking across dark and icy parking lots all winter.

Luckily I found a different job before the late Saturday nights started. It’s not on the phones, it pays slightly more, has better hours, and I have my own desk. The issue with that (there’s always an issue with me! I can never be happy!) is that it is temp-to-hire. I was desperate to get out of the call center, and felt I was about to be fired any day, so I took this one. This job was supposed to be temp for 90 days and then hired, and I’ve hit that, and the latest update as to when I might get hired on is “We don’t know.” It’s a decent company, but the work is a bit boring, and I’m very over-qualified for it, so I’ve decided to start looking again.

As for my old company, they filed for bankruptcy right before I left. They were several hundred million dollars in debt. The parent company walked away, they couldn’t even sell. The company is now owned by the large banks that hold the majority of their debt.

{ 7 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I was hoping more for an individual update not the company. What has the individual done to help their performance other than get past the probationary period, criticize the work environment and leave?

    Sorry to be pessimistic but if the original issue isn't resolved, it's sure to repeat.

  2. Ask a Manager*

    I might be reading it wrong, but it sounded to me from the first paragraph like her performance was quite good, aside from one week where she was sick…? I don't get the sense that there's an issue here with her, but rather that she wasn't a huge fan of working at a call center!

  3. Anonymous*

    No offense, but aren't ALL call center jobs bad? In my area of the country, "call center" is code for "sweatshop" and nobody but the most desperate will take jobs there. My goodness, this woman seems very smart and nice and I really hope she can find a better job situation soon!

  4. Kimberlee Stiens*

    The thing about call centers is that they usually pay much better than pretty much any other job that is a) as easy to get (except in this economy, of course!) and b) requires little experience or education. It might not be as good as, say, a receptionist job, but its easier to get and probably pays about the same. Plus, because turnover is so high at these places, if you can deal with the environment you can be promoted over and over again.

    Its sorta like sales: If you can't cut it, you can't cut it. But if you are good at it, and willing to do it, you can make a lot of money and build a respectable career.

  5. WFM Kyle*

    Hey hey, don't hate on contact centers! As Kimberlee indicates they aren't a bad job, considering they are fairly easy to get, can pay decent, they give some valuable experience and often offer good opportunities for personal growth.

    I think they get a bad rap because some people really aren't prepared to have their work tracked so closely and be held to a high level of productivity. If you worked in, say Retail, it can be much easier to slack off when the boss isn't looking.

    I started in a contact center with no education or experience and 14 years later I have a great career as a WFM Manager (My team does the reports that make so many employees angry… and long range planning). I've learned a ton and got paid to do it!

    Some contact centers do have trouble hiring good managers. They almost always promote from within so team managers have no management experience and obviously they get some bad ones. The company you work for, and their willingness to invest in employees makes all the difference.

  6. OP*

    What I did to improve my performance? Absolutely nothing. I continued to take my scheduled breaks. Period. I didn’t go to the bathroom a thousand times a day, I didn’t spend half of my shift in the hall on my cell. I adjusted nothing. And then my numbers stabilized. How? No idea. And since Excel and math were above my manager’s head, it was never explained to me how I could improve or what I could have possibly done to fix my numbers. I have no idea how I could have resolved the original issue. Everything I tried was circumvented by my manager. I wasn’t able to see the raw data, and he wasn’t smart enough to explain it to me. And I couldn’t really take a whole lot of time investigating it, because that would eat into my stats!

    FWIW, Call Centers aren’t a bad job. Certainly there are worse ones out there. It was a job, I was out of unemployment, and desperate. It’s what Kerry over at Clue Wagon calls an umbrella job. If it’s raining and someone hands you an umbrella, you don’t complain that it doesn’t match your bag.

    Further, I’m not a bad employee. I don’t goof off, I don’t take advantage. That’s what irked me about this job. I know I’m a good employee and I was being treated like a slacker.

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