Mak Navarez: Tales of ‘irate callers’ and stand-up comedy
As told to Allan Macatuno, Olongapo City
I am Mark “Mak” Navarez, 30, and I’ve been a call center agent for nine years now. I consider myself as a “call center hopper” because I hop from one call center to another. In the past nine years I have worked for at least seven Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies in Manila and in Subic Bay Freeport.
I prepare for work in the morning just like any other employee or worker. I’m fortunate that I work in a day-shift account so I spend my morning preparing my two sons (who are 8 and 9 years old) for their school with the help of my wife. I help prepare our breakfast and I send my kids to school before I head to work.
I leave our home past 8 am. I ride a tricycle to reach the national highway. Then I take a jeepney and a taxi to my workplace inside the Subic Bay Freeport. It usually takes me 30 to 45 minutes to reach my office.
I should be in my workplace 30 minutes before my shift starts. We don’t use swipe cards unlike other offices in the free port. However, I have to wear my ID card at all times. My shift starts at 10 am and ends at 6 pm.
I have to keep dialing and must be logged in our system during working hours. We only have two breaks every day. Our first break is at 12:30 pm and that’s for our lunch. The other one is at 3 pm and that’s only for 30 minutes.
Every agent has to dial around 2,000 leads in a day. The average call handling time is two minutes as qualifier and the manager closes the call. Each call can last for 10 to 15 minutes. My job basically requires me to transfer six clients to my manager in a day and there should be one appointment set.
There’s what we call “irate callers.” Those are customers who complain a lot and vent their ire on agents like us but I consider that to be normal. We are trained to handle calls, including irate ones, in a very professional way. I stay calm and stick to our specific protocol in handling irate callers as much as possible.
During lunch, I browse the Internet before I eat because surfing the net is much faster when there’s nobody else doing it. Then I eat, smoke a cigarette, and surf the net again. We usually eat at our pantry. There’s a food truck similar to the Jollijeeps of Makati City that comes by our building to sell affordable typical Filipino dishes.
We have daily meetings and we call these “pre-” and “post-shift meetings.” My workstation is a typical one that you’ll find in other call centers. You’ll see a computer and headset. While others decorate their desks, I don’t. We wear semi-formal attire during weekdays and then we’re dressed down on Saturdays.
With this kind of work, you should not be too sensitive because there’s pressure everywhere. You have to learn how to work alongside different personalities. Your overall goal is to do well in your job.
When my shift ends, I fetch my wife, who works near my workplace, and we head home together. That’s my typical day, except for Saturday when I usually don’t go home right after work because I find time to join some friends who are into stand-up comedy.
Yes, despite having a job that requires me to be serious all the time, I try hard to make other people laugh when I’m no longer confined to the four corners of my workstation. Aside from being a call center agent, I’m a proud member of Comic Five-O, a group of stand-up comedians in the country.
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