Saturday, November 22, 2003

I Can Talk About It Now(continued)

You may have run into the fellows who (aside from its detractors like me) give telesales a bad name.
These ...people, when they're out on "the floor" making calls, forget the one thing that makes phone service the convenient and painless exercise it was meant to be. And that one thing is basic phone etiquette, a.k.a. common sense.

Too often the call center agent --be he American, Hindi, Filipino or [coming soon] Mainland Chinese-- is one of several things: a nervous wreck, a sadistic intelligence agent or someone who just doesn't know enough about the stuff he wants to sell you. He is too busy thinking about his quota, too frazzled by the irate guy from the last call and just too clueless to be of any help to anyone. He forgets to put himself in his customer's shoes.

If you were to receive a call from a breathy Saddam Hussein ordering you to buy his last automatic rifle and a couple of hand grenades, payment made via your credit card plus passport and safe passage to Jordan, would you feel inclined to oblige him?

Hardly. Right?

Now if Saddam barking orders was replaced by someone who sounded friendly, intelligent, earnest and unfailingly polite... someone who knew uses for Iraqi automatic rifles and grenades other than for perforating Americans... someone who sounded like... ah, like... Optimus Prime! (alright, alright-- Hugh Jackman. Sheesh. You women are hard to please...)

Wouldn't you feel better about parting with your money for an automatic rifle and a coupla dud grenades you can polish, custom-detail and hang on your wall for you to be proud of and for all your friends to envy?

I'd say you'd answer with a cautious yes.

Salome Learns Her Common Sense
And so it went that I spent two weeks learning the basics of life indentured to the call center. In week one, I was taught how to "sound as if" I was "born in the 'States," as that place was where we serviced our clients. (It's tricky at best-- 'tis a horrible thing to hear the Filipino "spek his bran op In-glis."* Most trainees are taught how to help neutralize their often thick Filipino accent.) This is standard-- if we expect our American clients to understand what we say, we haveta speak the way they do or come up with a close enough approximation. We were told (and good advice it is, if you want to get in this business) to saturate our surroundings with all things American, especially the way American mediapeople speak. "Watch the FOX network. Just don't always buy what they say." And the best piece of advice-- stay far away from local telenovelas!

Trainees were taught how to properly wield their voices (hm, shades of Dune and Star Wars here) and how to project assertiveness, friendliness, enthusiasm over the phone. It's safe to say that if you "feel the love," you can easily make the other guy on the line feel it too. "Like begets Like," my trainer would always remind us.

In week two, we were taught the basics of "Telesaaaales!!!"**

(to be concluded)

*-This sitch is so bad that even some of the call center veterans don't speak the way they think we trainees should. I oughtta know. I had to listen to 'em. It's also worth noting here that my grade school English teachers were wrong on the pronunciation of the letter "Z" and in the accent, rhythm and intonation of spoken English, be it American or the King's English. "Z" really is pronounced as "Zee" and not "Zay." This is not to boast that I speak with an "American accent." I don't. The kind of English I cultivated allowed me to say "Pedro, please vacuum the floor" without "Pedro" sounding like "Pay-drow..." or "...please vacuum the floor" sounding like "...pleyahs bakyum da plor."
**-When I took photos, I had my fellow trainees say "telesales" instead of "cheese."

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