My voice may not be a talent to showcase (or is it?) but was it really a ‘skill in disguise’ as I claimed on a previous post? Well I guess I have to scan back a year plus off my professional life. On to BPO – Business Process Outsourcing, I jumped in, well aware that it was nowhere near my specialization in graduation. Fresh off the 2014 batch of ‘Electrical Engineers’ form the University of Calicut, and having lost an opportunity to work at an MNC, I was rather desperate to somehow get hooked up for something that I could showcase as ‘job’ for the peering eyes around me.
Desperate for another Job? Don’t! You might end up hands tied by unreasonable contracts. There is absolutely no need. And you really don’t have to prove anything to any ‘peering eyes’ but yourself.
Luckily, by the grace of nature I landed on My First Workplace (MFW) as a call center agent ‘tagged CC1’, and ready to market telecom solutions for companies in UAE. I was one among the first five CC’s of the place and part of an industry that accounts for more than 1% of my nation’s GDP. It was the brain child of My First Boss (MFB) to back his sales team and marketing operations in Dubai from our home town, Calicut.
In the early ‘start up like’ days we’ve had to wear multiple hats as content developer, e-mail designer, debugger, electrician, cleaner etc. Everything offered something new to learn for we were part of kick starting an ecosystem that eventually at the time of posting this placed the parent company among the top 10 telecom channel partner companies in UAE. I realized that marketing is the foundation of every organization, without it everything else would simply tend to coil down.
Our tools were the phone and e-mail. It did sound monotonous and unimpressive to those who haven’t tried (especially my class mates and family), but every customer is unique in their expectations and requirements. Marketing involves profound planning, approach and timing. I did initially try to draw inspiration from the quotes of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ and have witnessed some real WOLF like performance which left me wondering if marketing was a God given talent or not. Experience has taught me that it is better to consider it as a double edge sword.
Several methods were adopted by CC agents to pitch the product and generate appointments. I would personally tag their approaches as (no harm intended) – ‘straight forward method’, ‘intense emailing’, ‘buttering customers’ etc. There have been instances where I did feel sorry for the customer’s loss due to delay in activations or technical issues that was beyond us to comprehend. And I would from my part never abstain from an angry customer, I found it highly irresponsible. But not everything in marketing is the responsibility of the agent.
The truth must not be hidden but I guess it can be manipulated. My policy would always be to take the perspective of the customer, perhaps that’s why I was often short of meeting the target.
While internal rivalry did often add to stress, it helped be on edge regarding the market trends. Disagreements and differences may bring out the ‘asshole’ in the team but true professionalism is marked by how fast the shit slips. Apologies for that dirty sentence but some times in the heat of target achievement or getting ripped by angry customers for no apparent fault of yours, puking dirt is a time tested stress buster. Challenging task of the leadership in sales oriented workforce would be to ensure overall harmony within the team. MFB and my Team Lead were experts in this regard.
Avoid mingling with co-workers emotionally; your day at the office is largely influenced by their attitude. Dealing with colleagues can be a gamble between professional and personal barriers. Wrong moves may lead to permanent damage.
MFB was an inspiring figure for all of us. There was a lot to learn from his all round experiences and attitude to accept hindrances and turn them to opportunities. His approach often motivated me for a start up. He would know the pulse of the office sitting half way across the continent and was wise in identifying talent to allocate suitable tasks. In a short span my profile was upgraded to sales coordination where I could see the big picture. Dubai and its landmarks became a home away from home. Perhaps I would know the place better than many expats living there.
Sales coordination was all about filtering generated appointments and rendering them feasible for the sales agent. Generating appointments for its namesake would only hamper his/her efforts.
More than a year just slipped by. During the span I had also completed a certification course on programming, became a recognized freelancer and got a real glimpse in to the professional life beyond those perceived within classrooms. Just like any other office environment, I too got a lot of memories, friends and a ton of selfies. Owing to the random act of kindness by a couple of my colleagues, I was able to secure my second job, one that appears to be more in tune to my career interest.