Thanks to Thanksgiving Day Time Off

Image from the web.

 

“I’ll give you 5 minutes to yourself, but only 10 seconds at a time.”-kids (via Twitter)

 

Do I have time? Such is the question that would linger every now and then. Among other things, time management is the toughest. Time they say is the great equalizer because everyone, regardless of status, has only 24 hours each day to spend. Yes, rich or poor, black or white, young or old, fat or thin, healthy or not, just 24 hours each—what differs is what is at stake for each minute lost. Extra time in reality does not exist and it won’t be a surprise if someone would wish if only they could buy time that the others won’t use. But then again, we can’t. Even Donald Trump can’t.

Do I have time? Take note of ‘I.’ I for individual, I for me. Sadly, we are not alone and time is not ours all the time.  Our jobs, bosses—bad bosses included, relatives, neighbors, friends, parents, wife, and kids, in no particular order, want either a small piece or a big chunk of our 24 hours. It takes a bit of skill, a bit of negotiation, a bit of luck, and a lot of sacrifice to manage time.

Even the holidays do not present total freedom. Unless you get to escape, if your personality and lifestyle permit you to do so, and isolate yourself to enjoy the whole day on your own—half of it I would spend in bed—you have at least one or two other people whom you need to spend time with.

This week I have that opportunity to enjoy the much-awaited time off. Thanks to the Americans who would ignore repeated and annoying rings and trade all business calls for a time together with their family and friends in front of their favorite roasted turkey and beer. Thanks to Thanksgiving Day, I have time to be just at home. No late night drives for two days. How to spend the next days is another matter but we’ll see. There’s iflix, there’s Minecraft and Call of Duty, there’s errand to the grocery store, there are things to pack, there’s a birthday to celebrate.

 ***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Waiting for Marcus’ plan of the day.)

Logo Loco

I am among those who get excited when companies announce that they have a new logo and I even would like to believe that given the time and tools I could create a good one, if not better, myself. Pardon the statement, it sounds more like I am frustrated graphic artist, but having a logo is not as simple as knowing how to make one. Every element in a logo should deliver the right message as the outcome becomes the symbol that sums up the company’s vision and mission. It is meant to get everyone like its employees and its target market recognize it and, more importantly, know at first glance the core message that it tries to deliver.

Many corporations were spot on with their logos but there were several who, despite their best intentions, failed to find that one minor detail thus a logo that is ridiculous or one that sends the opposite of its key message.  While I haven’t been part of a logo team of any company, my rusty marketing subject plus my imagination tell me that to come up with a logo involves a tedious and a creative process. Again, the vision and mission statement should be the foundation and some critical questions should be answered. What idea or products do you sell? What impression do you want to tell your target audience—i.e., your employees, your market, your community? How do you want your company to be perceived? If it appears good on shirt could be one but that should be among the least of the concerns.

It is therefore imperative that the right team is in place to come up with the right—not necessarily the best—logo. Ideally, every stakeholder must be there and everyone must at least possess a keen attention to detail as a logo is a tattoo that once completed would be hard, time-consuming, or worse, painful to change.

Lastly, like any product, a new logo should also have its own promotion to reach its target market. It should be handled by a good marketing team who knows how to sell it and knows the right media that could effectively get the message across. Anything less would make all efforts go to waste and the logo ends up as good material for a weekend article or an entertainment for people who likes to kill time online during their rest day.

My own rest day logo so there is no need to like it.

 

***

Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Good news: Marcus’ school is closed due to Typhoon Lando. Bad news: our gym is also closed.)

At The Other End Of The Line

Newbie outbound agent’s life.

 

Who says D) All of the above?

 

 

***

I am among those who like posters and typography. I love looking at menu artworks especially that of Starbucks which is one way of being seen in front of the store without having to spend a cent. I am also interested in corporate photography that are used in slide presentations–usually compensates for boring lectures. All these, however, require tools to accomplish which is the reason my ideas remain inside my head. I can’t buy the software, I can’t buy the camera.

Fortunately, I finally found time to check out Canva.com which offers an online tool for anyone who has a poster idea. The website has a range of layouts and a number of typefaces to go along with each design. The poster above is my first creation using its free service. I need a back office job.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Next stop, find a tarpaulin to place the house on sale.)

I Got Bills…

This blog needs some happy tune so here’s one called Bills by LunchMoney Lewis and I declare this as part of the soundtrack of my life.

Happy weekend!

 

****

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Survived the week, thanks boss for the sore throat relief spray!)

Thanksgiving Staycation

The calendar on my phone tells me it is Friday, past 3 a.m. I have just awakened from a cold sleep. I gazed around but no double-deck beds, no La-Z-Boy recliners either. I stepped out and no hallway too. On my left is a living area and on my right, the dining–floor fully carpeted. On the kitchen counter are tea and coffee packs neatly arranged on a white porcelain tray. Obviously I am not at work. Aw snap, I remember, I am in a Bellevue Alabang suite.

Thanksgivings haven’t been like this. It is not so often that I spend my time off with some other people at work and I am not bothered. I am with a party of selected employees and bosses but there is absence of stress. The only pressure was if I can keep up with everyone else during meal.

Brunch was at Shakey’s Paseo Sta. Rosa. Dinner was at Yakimix ATC. Ironically, in between these gut-busting itinerary our group watched a movie: Hunger Games. It was my first time to watch it and despite lack of sleep I was able to finish Mockingjay – Part 1–maybe it was because of Katniss Everdeen, or maybe President Alma Coin, or maybe just because I had one Starbucks venti Americano with an additional shot.

I am now stuffed as a turkey and buffet breakfast is fast approaching. Time to consider the gym.

Bellevue Alabang, What really goes on inside a staycation guest head

Staycation thoughts.

***

Tidbits:

I typed staycation and spell check suggests ‘stay caution.’ Well, the bathroom scale agrees.

Hunger Games is like work: there’s Capitol and there are people who want to obliterate it. (Don’t ask me but I’m Katniss’ cat.)

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (I want to do this again.)

The Big Boss Viewed My Blog

Some of us have probably read by now a number of articles about bosses, recruiters, or interviewers who are now using social media footprints to learn more about an employee or an applicant. But how many of us know someone who has experienced this, or, more awkwardly, see their own blog being opened right in front of them, in a cubicle, by their own boss. Guess what, it happened to me.

In my attempt to participate in other company activities I applied to be a part of a group involved in employee engagement. One of the qualifications is for one to be creative and during the interview I mentioned that I can write and in fact I have a blog. And as if under hypnosis, I soon found myself staring at our manager’s desktop as he types marcuscanblog.com on his internet browser’s URL address field.  For the very first time, I was browsing my blog site alongside someone whose impression of it could make or break my quest to be part of a new challenge. Well, I’ll know soon.

***

After the interview, I tried to recall if my current blog still contains posts that are relevant to the call center industry as I accidentally wiped out years worth of blog posts just last year. Thanks to Feedfabrik I was able to save more than a thousand pages of post since I started in 2006. And as I approach my second year in the industry, I will try to re-post those under the call center tag so please do drop by every now and then to read my archives. Yes, including you boss.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Laundry’s drying, done running–again, and now channel surfing. Will see wifey and Marcus later.)

Outsourcing in the Business Process Outsourcing industry

It cannot be denied that outsourcing has become the key to the survival and competitiveness of most businesses. In my quest to be part of the call center industry, I discovered yesterday that even the business process outsourcing providers have resorted to such practice–outsourcing.

One of the tweets I marked as favorite, a couple of weeks ago, was from a job posting company. The tweet states, ”Call center agents with high salary. Accepting fresh grads!–People Solutions.” Upon clicking its link, a more detailed and attractive proposal comes up: “We are offering a salary package of PhP 20000 to PhP 30000 to applicants who will successfully pass our one-day hiring process.” Despite having some doubts on the veracity of the salary package, I sent my resume nevertheless–any bum would be compelled to try anyway. Less than a week later I received an SMS. They want to interview me.

The appointment date came but my excitement ebbed as soon as I reached the venue. Having applied in two different call centers in the past, I was expecting to find another setting with carpeted floor, cozy and professional-looking reception area, and well-dressed customer service agents frequenting the free coffee machine. Sadly, on the contrary, I arrived at a building that looks anything but corporate – unless cost-cutting measures have made monobloc chairs an acceptable fixture in BPO offices.

It’s a good thing, however, that the disposition of the account manager who faced us somehow made up for the bland appearance of their headquarters. Interestingly, we (applicants) soon learned from her that after the brief orientation and group discussion, hiring personnel from different call center companies will soon come over to interview us further.

It became clear that People Solutions is after all outsourced by other BPOs to recruit potential agents like us. The young and bubbly personnel explained that she holds four accounts but stressed that they are not a recruitment agency which charges a fee to any of its applicants. At least.

In the evening, I was on my way to being hired by a second company. Unlike Convergys, I passed the initial interview, quiz, typing test, and the Versant. After about eight hours inside the cybermall, I finally reached the final interviewer who seems to make me so aware that the position, customer service representative, I am applying for is an entry level job which could make my past work experience and education meaningless.

Sensing her disbelief that someone with 15 years of diverse experience in the semiconductor industry, not to mention having recently completed an MBA study, will apply for such job, I explained to her my reasons and long term plans in the call center industry–that the requirements of most BPOs for team leads have changed, that the fundamentals of the business start with CSR/TSR, that I am envisioning myself stepping up in the near future, etcetera. But quite frankly, in the back of my mind, my courage to be firm with my answers is due to the fact that I’m still thinking about the Php 20000 to Php 30000 salary offer as seen from the JobsDB.com ad. Minutes later, the thought bubble bursts big time.

The Teleperformance personnel was shocked when I told her about my expected salary. She said that I’ll be disappointed to know that I can only receive half of it and that the signing bonus indicated on the job posting doesn’t apply to them. I was floored.

Sensing my frustration, she advised me to reconsider the offer and be back within a month or else I have to re-do the whole process again which means staying there for another eight hours along with other CSR hopefuls. Let’s see. So close yet so far.

***
Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I’m expecting another call tonight.)

A video conferencing faux pas

I had a funny recollection while listening to a classmate discuss about video conferencing. Several years ago while I was yet a technician, we had this activity wherein we did an RTC (or Real Time Collaboration) with another site somewhere abroad (if it’s Costa Rica or Malaysia, I can’t exactly remember) using video conferencing.

Here’s the short yet anecdotal experience. It happened inside the manufacturing floor. A bulky American man in smock approached, obviously in casual collared-shirt and faded rugged jeans.

Man: Good morning, what are you up to guys?

Cris: Hi there, we’re doing video conferencing to check if their machines are set up just like ours.

Man: That’s amazing. How does it work?

Cris: Well, we use this RTC equipment to…blah, blah, blah (technical jargons).

Man: Hmmm, cool…anyway, thanks a lot for the explanation.

Cris: No problem, what’s your name by the way.

Man: Kevin Taylor…

Cris: Your name sounds familiar…

Man: Yes…I’m the factory manager.

Should I describe how laughter (and embarrasment) broke out after that conversation? *LOL*

 

 

 Mood: 3/10 Honks (now, school work is next…that is, if I can figure it out)

 

Editorial Abstracting

A month have past since I got into this job. The moment I learned, from one of my facebook contacts, that it does exist, I grabbed the opportunity to get to know more about it. I just love writing and so it didn’t take much time before I signed up. Few weeks later, I attended the training.

During the training in one of the buildings along commercial avenue in Alabang, I was surprised to see that there’s a lot of people, who are actually interested to be in this program. Our batch was composed of retirees, teachers, event organizers, freelance writers, ex-call center agents and even those with current jobs and not surprisingly, several bums just like me. There was even one complete family who attended.

So what is this job all about? It’s a form of business process outsourcing (BPO), and basically, it’s the call center’s non-voice counterpart. It’s a bum writer’s dream as it entails one to work at home without the nosy bosses and ill-tempered co-workers, not that they existed before. Hahaha. Anyway, despite those attractive perks, until now I find it an odd job.

As much as I love writing, I soon realized that editorial abstracting is a different discipline from plain blogging. It requires a lot of reading and comprehension to form an acceptable, if not good, abstract. It starts with having what they call a journal that is accessible through the company’s website. This journal contains files that may either be articles, book reviews, news briefs, instructional articles, and photo essays just to name a very few. These files in pdf format should then be read, identified if what article type it belongs and finally, an abstract should be written out of it. The abstract length ranges from one sentence to 300-500 characters maximum, depending on the article type. Once done, these abstracts are then emailed to the company and which they then send it back to whoever (and wherever in the US) customer in abroad requested the abstract to be written.

The customers abroad are actually publishing companies who outsource these writing jobs here in the Philippines. These companies send articles that ranges almost anything under the sun. Yes, you read it right. It’s anything under the sun. Proof of it, the first journal I got was actually about GLBT. And I learned just then, that GLBT stands for Gay, Lesbians, Bisexual and Transgender, so imagine my surprise when I saw pictures of male caucasians tongue-tied in a bar and that I’m expected to write about their events and experiences. What’s funny is that I’m writing it for a fee with the highest being P16. And yes, once again, you read it right. 16 Philippine peso ($0.35).

But don’t retreat yet, unless for reasons of receiving a GLBT, the P16 fee is per article. Each journal may contain several articles and as you get the hang of it, the more abstracts you can write and the more journals you accomplish in a day. Soon you’ll be earning according to your phase and will be surprised how much you’ve actually accumulated and received as payment.

So far I’ve written abstracts about law, sports, treasure hunting, agriculture and lately, Russian-related articles. I’m expecting they’ll soon assign what I’ve listed as my topic of interest – economics, business & industry, religion, education. But then again, they say that it’s unlikely to be followed and that journals will be assigned according to availability. Well, I’ll take anything but no more GLBT please.

 

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (survived half-day of being home alone with the hyper Marcus)

Am I in the telco’s Twilight Zone?

 

They say that customer satisfaction is a combination of good products plus good service. If that’s the case, then my recent (and thankfully my latest) transactions with the phone company Digitel is anything but. It all started when I tried to inquire regarding our phone subscription’s disconnection. Here’s what transpired:

Customer service hotline. Agent entertained me obviously while using a scripted set of dialogues with me being asked of several account info but when I asked if they process disconnection, he said, “Sir, we don’t do that. Call our office instead.” Just before I hung up, I asked if he knows what might be the requirements for disconnection. Valid ID lang daw. Immediately after the conversation I checked our phone directory’s yellow pages and saw a list of numbers for Cavite. Great.

I tried 2-3 numbers and all I got was a recording saying, “The number is not yet in service” or something to that effect. Feeling hopeless, I called their office of area manager‘s number with the intent to report the problems with the listed office numbers. She wasn’t around, daw. So I asked the person at the other end of the line, if she knows any available and working number. She gave one. Then I asked if she knows what the requirements for disconnection are. Valid ID lang daw.

Directory assistance hotline. After failing to contact the number that the good secretary gave me, I remembered about the directory assistance hotline. And guess what? They don’t have an updated list of working numbers for Cavite! And that’s coming from a directory assistance hotline? Goodness. What could be more ironic than that?

Trying to be composed and convincing myself that maybe I have to go to their office indeed to process the subscription disconnection, I left home with a valid ID on hand. I arrived at Digitel’s office finding just one customer. Great. A few minutes later I was already talking to the customer service agent and politely said, while hiding any hint of previous frustrations, that I wanted our line disconnected . He smiled back, checked his computer, scribbled some notes on a piece of paper, handed it over to me and said, “Sir, here’s what you need…valid ID, phone, modem, and splitter.” Ti abi. Of course, I erupted, albeit controlled, but sarcastically replied back, “So it’s just indeed about time, I get our line disconnected…”

I was back home in no time, furious. Took the phone out and the rest of the Digitel items and I was back again to their office within a few minutes. This time, my anger is showing up even if I still tried to contain it and trying to be subtle as much as I can. My sweet revenge came soon, when he handed me a form to fill in and I was suppressing my evil smile while I wrote in front of him the comment: “Customer service is poor.” I could have written “sucks” but then again I did not – still trying to be civil despite all that.

Well, finally it’s goodbye Digitel for us. Hello, PLDT. In fact, I was there this morning to have our NDD activated. I was entertained by two well dressed employees…who doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing…and I eventually found out about them when my wife read the remark on the copy of the service request form at home. They’re OJTs. Man, am I in the twilight zone of the telecommunications world? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

 

 

 

 Mood: 3/10 Honks (back to dealing with GoDaddy.com. registered a new domain. hopefully this one will do the trick.)