Good feelings gone.

Just when you though there might be hope for this site…

I spent quite a bit of time last night listening to agents on the phone. I was there at the beginning of their shift, so the calls were few and far between. I had a lot of idle time to sit with the agents and chat about their job. Once I signaled that I was interested in hearing their unedited opinions about [my company] and [the vendor] I started to get an entirely different picture of the situation. The two agents I was sitting with start speaking to each other in Hindi. I give one of them a puzzled look and he says, “He’s asking me, ‘should I tell him about…?'” I turn to the other agent and say, “Yes, you should tell me about…”

I listened to allegations of corruption, sexism, favoritism, inconsistent application of policy, unpaid compulsory overtime, uncomfortable dress codes, inedible cafeteria food, poor sanitation, sexual harassment and several accounts of generally poor work conditions. I asked them if they had ever worked at other call centers and how they would rate the one they work at now in comparison. They rated our pay on competitive-to-good side. However, in all other regards they rated their job among the worst in the industry. In addition to the slights and abuses listed above, they also complained that they never received basic training eg. How do I use this headset? I was given warning of an impending mass exodus after the next payday, which will occur right after I leave for the other office. They asked if I could do something about the managers that yell at them across the room, and said that customers often hear these shouts and ask them what’s going on.

What can I do about this? Would it make a difference? I have very low confidence that my opinion will carry any weight at all with the people who have the power to improve the situation. All around the office there are posters placed by [the vendor] that encourage favorable traits like honesty, integrity, empathy for the customer, dedication, respect and so forth. On one wall, there is a large display of [my company’s] “corporate values”. I’m wondering how far we’re willing to go to truly practice what we preach. In the last few months I’ve seen a lot of things both here and back home that run counter to those values. I like to think they’re more than just lip service, but I’m probably being naive. The butcher knows where the meat comes from.

Every cab ride has another story. The driver asks if I’m an American and I tell him I am. He says Americans are his favorite passengers. (I’m suspecting a butter-up, but go along with it.) After everything I’ve heard at the office, I’m hoping that he will have something nice to say about us. Perhaps a heartwarming anecdote or personal encounter with an American who did something exceptional. He says, “I like Americans best because they are the Number One Best Paymasters.” Great. An inelegant tip grub. I’m already feeling guilty about my ‘Paymaster’ status after hearing about the horrors in the office. None of the other drivers made pitches for tips, so I don’t feel so bad about leaving him hanging. He needs a better hook anyway.

I’ve got a lot on my mind. I was sent a meeting request from someone I’ve never heard of at my company. They claim to be a liaison between [dev side] and [our side]. I thought that was *my* job. They say they want to set up a meeting with me ahead of a meeting that they’re having with the higher-ups. The whole thing doesn’t sit right. The only reason I can imagine a need for a further layer of intermediary is that they want someone to apply a puff of Chanel No. 5 to the rather large turd on a platter that I’m carrying. I’m tired of wondering whether or not I can tell the truth, so I’m just going to do it and let the chips fall.


1 Response to “Good feelings gone.”

  1. 1 Dad
    February 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Your daily journal is very interesting. I wake up after a night’s rest and start off my day with your update. Fascinating! I’m guessing that conditions are at least as bad as were reported to you. The high turnover rate in such a poor country speaks pretty loudly. The fact that they stay such a short time says that conditions are blatantly bad. Perhaps exit interviews could be used to document…but who would do them honestly and I suppose they don’t resign but rather just don’t return. I’d be careful what you say to the company intermediary until you return home and have a full picture. At that point an unemotional report in writing is likely a better way to go. That would preclude spinning by others and twisting (adding any perfume)! I’m presuming that several others at your company have been to these sites and so they must know at least some of what you’re seeing. I’d presume that you were sent over there to fix or recommend solutions. So a methodical rendering of the facts and your observations followed by some simply stated change requirements would be powerful. I’m sure you know all of this, but just saying…
    Love ya…Dad

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