Dare to Ask: Resentment over call center
By Phillip Milano
The Florida Times-Union
Why do a lot of these big companies hire people to answer their phones,
and you can barely understand what they are saying? I hate that!
Sherre, 30, black, Kansas City, Mo.
It’s just as hard on their end, and they have the added hassle of
dealing with people like you.
Whitney, 24, black female, Mississippi
Some companies don’t care about hearing complaints. That’s why they come up
with these never-ending voice mail systems. “Press 1 if your dog smells like
tuna. Press 2 if it’s raining outside.”
Taz, 33, male, Detroit
My company hires people from diverse backgrounds. I hear Latino accents,
Indio-Pakistani, Caribbean, African and so forth. All of these people are right
here in the United States.
EJ, white male, Dallas
I know it doesn’t make sense from a consumer side for a job that hinges
on communication skills to be shipped overseas to people who don’t speak English
well, but from the corporate side, it means more money for them.
Ed, 26, Asian male, Milpitas, Calif.
They do it ’cause they hate A-murr-ica. For more on how to take back
our country, text YOURACCENTTERRORIZESME to some office in Mangalore. Of course,
chances are your message will be routed to the Philippines, China or Latin
America, because a ton of folks are sitting in cubicles wearing headsets in
those places, too.
And, according to P.V. Kannan, whose California-based 24/7 Customer Inc. has
about 9,000 call center employees worldwide, most of these outsourced
tech-service people know the language and are trained to deal with Americans.
It’s just that you’re expecting something for nothing, think your tech
problem should be resolved in under three minutes, and have been brainwashed by
the media, movies and culture to think most call center operators are dweebs who
you can’t understand.
“Tech profit margins have eroded; they make their money on volume,” said
Kannan, whose company provides training and screens its applicants for
pronunciation and clarity of thought. “There are hundreds of thousands of
operators who handle calls and usually satisfy the person on the other end.
“I don’t buy the whole accent thing. Often if I order a sandwich, I meet
someone from a foreign location, too. No one using the Queen’s English is
serving you a hamburger. Human nature, though, is that if someone’s accent is
different, and our patience is already at wit’s end, we get even more
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Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Keep the cross-cultural dialogue going at our
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