Marital status of the confused

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Like most interviewers’ routine, every time I get to talk to aspiring agents for our telesales and special projects campaigns, I’d ask straightforward questions that are meant to bring out the honest details that are sometimes missing, or excluded (intentionally or otherwise) in the submitted resume or filled-up application form.

But recently, of all the applicant details I’d focus on, it’s the civil status that I’d ask more about, that’s because most applicants won’t reveal their marital status unless you ask. Strange that this is not unique to female applicants, yet “single” seems to be the common response among applicants with live-in partners, even those already with kids.

Curious, I’d ask why and applicants will be quick to explain that there’s really no space or option for “with live-in partner” in our application form. And some would reason out that it’s easy to get passed the initial screening when you’re single, and a few said there’s an added pressure when having to explain their complicated relationships during job interviews. The rest just say as long as they haven’t signed a marriage contract or had a church wedding, their best bet is the single status. continue reading »

Just say “Blessing!”

I’ve been working late at the office for a couple of weeks now in my attempt to cover three shifts. Since we transferred from our Parañaque headquarters to our own building in Makati about six years ago, my agents, especially those assigned in the mid- and graveyard shifts, have been sharing stories of scary chair movements, doors shutting, weird noises, uneasy feeling and nightmares when napping in our lounge, sightings that went from negligible to somewhat significant that such paranormal activities have somehow affected our operations, at least for the agents who claim to have experienced the horrific instances. That’s why it’s been our practice, tradition actually, to have our office blessed at least once a year. And so in my many late nights at the office, I was actually also hoping, waiting to experience the same. While I would get this eery feeling every time, no, the office was just that–workspace–plain and simple. But there’s no ignoring the fact that my agents are beginning to get scared, again. And we learned that we’ve been too busy last year we forgot to do the customary blessing.

So I asked my secretary to immediately look for a priest and schedule a mass and blessing. We used to just ask a priest from any parish, but my secretary was told this time that we’ll need to get in touch with the nearest parish, and thank goodness she was able to make arrangements easily. She was asked for what occasion it’s for, she said there was none, that we want to start the workweek blessed with a holy mass.

And so Monday came, everyone at the office was all prepped up. As soon as the priest arrived and got ready, he started the mass, with a question though.

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Sell me this pen, with questions

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I’m soon celebrating 14 years in the industry of business process outsourcing, working mostly in contact centers. The thing is, I didn’t exactly start out as a call center agent, but it’s as if my teaching, business development, and operations management experience set the path for me to make a career out of “calling.” While I would usually kickstart a telemarketing campaign but work in the background later managing its after-sales operations, I’d immerse myself in sales that I’d barge agent calls like a hawk and work on spiels calibration as if it’s my quota, inculcating the idea that in order for each call interaction to be productive, the agent receiving or making the call must be in control. But how do you actually take control of a call? continue reading »

Fishing the teams

After so many hiccups, due to venue availability and conflicts with schedules, this mid-June finally saw our company’s team building happening. It’s an event we’ve set months ahead, with weekly activities focused on the FISH! Philosophy that will culminate into an out-of-town overnight retreat of sorts, the highlight of which is the pool party and drinking sessions, accompanied by everyone’s favorite videoke machine. While I actually wanted to do as many exercises as time will permit, this time around I decided to just keep it simple and quick, so there will be more time spent for bonding.

Like other companies, especially those that are into the outsourcing business, we’ve been “team building” regularly or at least once a year. It sure felt more than a decade, and in the many years I’ve been in the call center industry, I’ve joined a variety of team building programs–from the remotest of venues with energy draining obstacle courses to the retreat houses with yawn-worthy, lecture-centered discussions–I still wouldn’t claim to be a veteran though, but taking advantage of my experience in teaching and training, especially theater in terms of group dynamics, I think this is something I can easily hack.

From the “porky adobo with eggs” activity–that’s our version of the open sesame game with a twist–to the more serious personality-perception-discussion I pegged as “change not change” capping the dynamics off with the shortened “colors exercise” I picked up from my theater acting days, which associates colors with emotions, encouraging participants to give up situations that trigger negative feelings.

Reminds me of that former accountant from an affiliate company who asked, without hiding her sarcasm, why we keep doing this team building. “Are you guys not that closely knit that you need to be constantly reminded via these costly resort trips?” This question is what actually convinced me that team building must be an essential part of our operations and I’m proud to have the lowest attrition rate, working with a bunch of crazy but funny and talented telesales and customer service professionals. continue reading »

At the Mobile Festival 2013

I’m usually 7:00am pronto at the office every Monday, that’s because I chose a car plate number banned until 7:00pm in Makati City every first day of the workweek, the same reason that pushes me to be early at work and avoid missing the almost always busy Mondays. But yesterday I found myself walking the whole stretch of SM Mall of Asia at the break of dawn to look for an open coffee shop, as I need to be wide awake for what seems to be the longest conference I’ll ever join – the first Mobile Festival in the Philippines at the SMX Convention Center, with 5 plenary programs that are supposed to end past my car coding hours. Insightful topics are to be presented by speakers from here and abroad, known for their expertise and contributions to mobile and a variety of industries.

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I’m actually enrolled at the Mobile Marketing Academy, that instantly registered me to this event, and I sure am glad to have joined. Saw familiar faces and got to talk to some business owners who seem to be late in the game or just starting but are embracing mobile anyway. There’s this consensus on the floor that indeed, mobile technologies have changed the way consumers engage with brands, that before deciding on a purchase, the typically-pocketable device has become an automatic go-to for information that can greatly influence the buying decision. And that companies must be ready to use mobile for making customer engagement more productive, convenient, and instant.

Aside from the overwhelming learning sessions, the highlight of the conference is actually “The Pitch” with which our Web Marketing Officer Pauline “Petim” Maminta (and fellow moderator for IGersManila), is a contestant and who eventually won with her Team Saucy, who pitched a seemingly simple app/service idea that got the judges scoring high for its straightforward presentation and high practicability for McDonald’s 30-minute delivery.

I can’t wait to get all these mobile ideas rolling for the projects and campaigns I’m involved with, now back to work. Too bad, I didn’t find any coffee shop that opens that early at MOA, but hey I managed to stay awake in that 7:00am to 7:00pm ordeal.

Love tea? Get a chance to win an iPad!

I love coffee but I love tea even more. I drink hot tea in the morning when I wake up and at the office whenever I feel work is draining my energy. The only tea I drink though is Twinings, the green tea and lemon variety.

If you love tea and want the elusive iPad (the original, I know) Twinings is running a promo (until May 20, 2011) in Facebook via an app that lets you find out your personality and the Twinings tea that best matches your taste. Here’s mine:


Nah, I don’t agree with the suggested tea. I actually tried the English Breakfast variety back when I was in Sau Paulo Brazil and I think it’s too strong for my liking. Anyways, take the Twinings Personali-TEA and find out yours.

Where you’ve been (off blogging)

Been a while, actually more than a month, of pressing office work and tight schedules and targets, that kept me from spending (or allotting) time for blogging.

Last 26-Sep-09, that fateful Saturday was my birthday, but many will remember it for the flash floods that Ondoy brought us in a span of just about 6 hours, shocking every Filipino rich and poor, reminding us nature can indeed command absolutely anything, and not even your plush and fully-loaded SUV can withstand its powerful flood current. And so either we’re drenched in water clueless or we’re found in our rooftops hungry, desperately praying for Ondoy (or the scarier Pepeng) to go away. While we’re lucky that my family were spared, I still couldn’t believe that that Saturday actually happened. And so in little ways, I tried to reach out and help. More pressure at work and otherwise, but getting by.

Donated to Red Cross via text. Reached out to relatives and friends affected by the typhoon. Our fraternity chapter, celebrating its founding anniversary last Saturday, did so instead by offering volunteer work at Quezon City Hall, even sharing memorable *repacking* moments with Vice Mayor Herbert “Bistek” Bautista. Knowing that everyone wants to take part in donating, volunteering, and rescue work, is a multiplier effect we need that will hopefully help us recover from this calamity faster, and go back to normal.

Happy Monday!

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” Brian Tracy.

Woke up 3:45am to the non-stop ringing alarm of my mobile phone, threw it aside and shook wifey to wake her up. Heading straight to the bathroom, I was then offered my favorite hot green tea after a quick shower, sat on my usual place on the opposite side of our dining after dressing up, where wifey’s enjoying her cup of coffee. Still dark outside at 4:55am.

It’s Monday. It’s been over two years that I started this Monday routine. It starts early and ends very late. And it’s all because my car’s plate number ends in 2. And because my office is in Makati.

Poor me, every Monday, I rush to be at Makati before 7:00am. And because coding is more stringent (as in 12 hours) in this business district, I can only go out after 7:00pm, which by that time, I’d be exhausted and totally drained. Unless you want to get fined, which is not exactly cheap, keeping the money rolling for “Ganito kami sa Makati.”

On the bright side though, because I’m forced to start early on, I’m better prepared for my workweek. 12 hours at the office—that’s a lot time to keep productive—more opportunities to get things done.

Silly thing is, I actually asked that my plate number end in 2. Happy Monday!