CSA notes: fun and not fun…

Shakespeare was right saying:

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,…”

That’s the second job where I felt that I am acting in a movie. Why? Because when we are chatting between the calls with my co workers and me myself we speak our normal voices but as soon as we hear the beep in our headsets the voice and intonation changed to a very sweet and very confident. That made me laugh so many times.

It took me several months to write this post: one reason I wanted to avoid to sound like I am whinning or complaining, the other reason: we tried to bring Union to our site so I had to keep my mouth shut for some time.

I really hope you, my friends, won’t take this post as complain about the job. Please consider this post more “open eyes” and “moment of true” about the job you can get without big competition. It also helps to feel your capabilities and ability for stress resistance, as well as to get interesting experience working with people and at some point ability to manipulate of customers reactions (in a good way).   Also, I like to hear various life stories so that I don’t need to watch soap operas here everything is so real from real people just listen…

We are all at some point customers but sometime have false impression about call centres. Some customers think that agents sit in a small room and know each other…
One funny question that I heard from customers: “Do you know A*** agent? Please, ask her/him why he told me that”

Ha! No, I don’t know that agent he/she could be employee of the other outsoursing company or other site.  Even on our site there are about 200 agents working different shifts. It’s over 100 employees on the production floors the same time (production floor is a huge room, so huge that I was able to make about 3000 steps just to get to the washroom which is on the other side of the floor after just couple rounds :))), and no we don’t have phone extensions as we don’t have personal cubicles, every day we may sit in a different one, we also don’t have ID numbers that we should provide to our customers,  we have names ))) (it’s not nazis consentration camp, lol)

No wonder Homo sapiens was able to move from the stone caves to brick buildings, having that amazing ability to adopt to any environment. I was able to get use to this job and laugh and have fun.

According to my observation, CSA  agents can evolve not only professionally but also their attitude can evolve; either from “darkness of unknown” to positive  “I can do and develop my skills” or  from “don’t care” to negative attitude  like “I hate this job”.

100% of agents want to quit and look for another job which happens a lot. In spite of that fact, company hires like crazy  because of the 90% turn over and also they need to meet certain requirements to keep the contract, there is always a lack of agents on the production floor. So no doubts that this kind of turn over effects the quality of customer service.  About 70% of trainee leave after the first three months. And that is why agents hear: “Your services are sh**t! The company is big BS” How service can be excellent if agents leave every 2-3 months, it’s not enough time to get to the point of  proficiency!

I can secretly tell you some agents don’t listen all that nice “s***flow”, they put on “mute” and finish their chips, pizza or poutine or their lunch, or just make funny faces. Then, when on the other side customer is done to vent, agent says sacramental phrase: “I am sorry to hear that…. Or I understand your feelings…”  What else to say of course you are sorry for another agent or technician who didn’t do the job properly )))

Not fun: Honestly, I find it humiliating, when someone abuses agent and the agent is not allowed to hang up the phone by policy. Would they do that if they could see you and look into your eyes? Would they do that if they saw you are pregnant or in a wheel chair? Would you as a civil person  in real life listen all that abusive or jargon words? I doubt… Most likely you would just ask politely to shut up, turn around and go… But as an agent you can’t that’s the company policy. Nice!

Also, It’s Not fun to get stuck with unreliable an immature Team Leader who smokes weed at work place, jumps like an ape on the floor and cannot be trusted when promised something. Good thing when you are switched to a great reliable TL, who cares about the team, life gets better. )
I should admit that only few employees consider call centre agent job as a career job but a lot of my co-workers has their reason to keep this job. Just because they need it at this moment.

Not fun thing when you get to know great people and they quit…

I also should mention its definetly family unfriendly job. Shifts are either late or early, most weekends agents work, try to ask for accommodation Ha-Ha-Ha!  I tried to get accommodation for my pregnancy, just to move shift half hour later, and get time for OB appointments, noway I could get it.

You can be stuck with one shift for more than one month so you see your kids when they are asleep or 45 min before school.
The other funny thing, some customers believe agent is a magician and can make 2-3  vip services for less then $ 100 and give refunds up to $1000 just as easy as to pee on two fingers :)) which is not true. The real true is the agents are limited to give refunds it reflects on the score card, also if they refund too often thay can be banned to do so for some period of time. The transfers to another department, length of the call also effects in the score card.

Agent cannot be late to log in to the system more than four minuts. Actually, you cannot be late at all or leave early it’s all reflected in their time cards and score cards. After certain amount of so called “Tardy” agent is asked to sign the Special form, when there are to many of them just get fired.

At call centre you can realize what a consumer society we live in. I always want to laugh out loud (hysterically) when I hear on the other of the line: “make me a great deal I’ll stay with your company but I don’t want to change anything on my account…. “Hey bud, I have only one promo available with upgraded services for higher price of cause, and I myself need to go and bow to LAs to get better deal for you.” So, that’s the “moment of true” I am not a magician…)))

And sometimes I get impression that we live a in society of adults who keep staying toddlers: why? Because some call and ask for ” a toy” for free right now, they think they deserve it for their great behaviour…and they make that fuss that toddler can do when thay are spoiled by parents.

Funny when “mature” guy calls with a question but keeps watching adult channel… He doesn’t care that the call is recorded, lol.

It is a false impression that if the call was recorded agent can go somewhere and listen to it. The records are mostly used for “quality and training perposes”. Manager or Team managers do have access to the calls only if the call was a success or there was a complain… Another reason the call cannot be retrieved is because they are recorded by the location, and if there are 10-19 locations…  Noway the call can be retrieved to listen if it has been done at the other site.

Of all this above I want to ask you not to get scared of any job. There’s no perfect job what ever you do gives you pay check, experience, confidence,  new friends and raise you over your head when you realize you can handle it.

Smile and move on with the high raised head!!

Spirit of Christmas!




Merry Christmas beloved friends!!!

Just couple days ago recalled the memories about last New Year at home with my mom before our family became oversea residents.

There is a Russian saying: “Your next year will be as good as you celebrate it!” Which means if you celebrate it with happiness among family and friends, you will be happy for the whole year; if you celebrate it on the road that’s how it’s going to be the whole year… So our last New Year eve  before we moved to Canada was among boxes moving from one place to another, so here we are it seems that New Year effected our next 9 years living on the boxes, moving from one place to another with a hope and intentions to settle our nest house one day.

Am I whining? Nope!

Am I a bit nostalgic? Yep! it’s a holiday one )))

And of course I am making a big wish at 12 am at New Year!

Some may ask why not Christmas? To make my big wish true I’ll put a not on our Christmas tree either… Yeah! Just to speed up the process ))

Actually before Christmas some people ask me whether we celebrate Christmas or not? It’s Canada! Sure we do!!! The more fun the better!

Also it’s different calendar then in Russia so it would be the same holiday as January 7 th! Isn’t it?

BUT We put presents under the Christmas tree twice!  Imagine that!!!!

Kids write two letters to two different saints Santa Clause and Father Frost. Auh! The Saint is actually the same but the name is different… And they come in different ways: Santa through the chimney.

(Kids ask me why can’t he use the door? He is not a thief!)

and Fr. Frost comes through the door (Russian kids from big cities would never get their presents if Father frost has to get to the apartment through the chimney, there are no chimneys or fireplaces in most apartments).

When Father Frost comes kids actually  should sing a song, dance or recite the poem to impress the old man and only then get a present; also Father Frost comes with his granddaughter Snow Girl (Snegurotchka), who entertains kids. She sings with them, cheers kids up if they’re shy, makes rounds around the Christmas tree, or better say New Year tree.

New Year is/ was as important in Russia as Christmas in North America. People start celebrate on the last week of December keep having fun for about 2 weeks after the first of January. Yeah! It’s hard to stop! Family visits, friends visits, day by day until the 10th of January. Then heavy hangover and extra 20lb on hips!!! :))

(Never started dieting before New Year, now  you know why :))) )

When orthodox Christmas, January 7th was added to to the calendar everyone got more reasons to have fun longer!!!

I love holidays!

Merry Christmas!

Happy New 2016 Year!

Make wishes twice! It will work I believe!

“We are Europeans!”

Note: People are different and have different views, just in case you’ve read this and completely disagree, its ok… this is just a scoop from some friends’ life… this time I want to blog “as is” with out judging or special comments.

After my first post on Russian language I got really interesting feedback from friend of mine from St. Petersburg. I asked permission if I could use his feedback in my blog. So I am going to paste the message in Russian but also will translate it into English.

If you are wondering why do I do this? Mostly because people often ask me: “How people are doing in my home country?”. It is a hard question for me first of all because I haven’t visited St. Petersburg for about 5.5 years, and also because I know from my social network that some people are travelling a lot to expensive resorts, but some are hardly connect dot to dot between pay days.

Also I have difficulties to answer this question: “Did you have a cultural shock when you moved to Canada?

I am always say:  Only just its a new place, and another tune of language in the air!”

Well, this message is from my co worker a school teacher and a great person. He is in his 60s and still working hard. He and his wife are extremely positive people. Even though, life was not always piece of pie for them they never give up and always keep up with all possible cultural, travelling and sport activities:

Tranls: So Immigration.

“I would like to start from a weird statement: “We’ve been Europeans for a long time already”

How come we are Europeans?   (you may get surprised, after resent  cooling down of political relationship, blaming and economical sanctions).

So called “middle class” “rolled” (translation from slang), “rolled” Europe from end to end and… NOT been impressed. These days people look realistically on the situation, not through pink glasses.  Yes, there is some brain leak  (Economist Guriev left Russia). There is immigration from Asia such countries as Tudgikistan these immigrants swipe the streets and do cleaning in our city.

These days there is no major immigration from Russia. Our life has adjusted a little bit.

The stairs in the buildings became cleaner.

The whole city changes almost daily for the better.

Book fair on Moyka at Mykhailovskiy Castle – Why? What for? Just recently there was one in Manezh. And that one was very crowded. It seems people started to read more again.

There is no lack of museums in Piter (Short form from St Petersburg): The State Hermitage got more space for its exibitions in General Staff Building, 4 floors: 3rd floor “Ampir”, 4nd floor “Impressionists” “Postimpressionists”, and “Pointillists”, and much more space to exhibit collections from storages.

My wife and I spent there five hours in September, and could spent more and more…

Everything changes: buildings, its interiors and POEPLE. Yes, may be not so fast, not everywhere but in public transit there are less fights between passengers. I pick up my granddaughter twice a week at a “rush hour” and only couple times we weren’t offered a seat.

My wife teaches extra curriculum Math classes at the prestigious private school  in downtown and she says her students, whose parents do business internationally, are very polite, modest and  responsible, one of the girls studies in London.

It seems people do not discuss the idea of immigration from Russia. New generation of “new Russians” are not those “gangs” for 90s any more.

Some of my friends friend even came back and built his own house close to Peterhof.

After I finish this letter I am  heading  on to basketball game in the newly built Sibur arena which is up to European standards.

In 90s a lot of our friends immigrated to different countries, most of them succeed, few of them not.

So should they wait?  Everyone made their choice and no regrets.

I started with a statement that we are Europeans! It is true because Europe helped  us to modify and get rid of a lot of illusions. More over Europe get use to us and misses us in many ways. After Dollar and Euro exchange rate has increased a lot of Finnish boarder towns had to wrap up their industry, sales  and lay off their employees.

People in Czech Republic, where we’ve been in September, feel sorry for the whole situation and hope that situation will change soon.  Italy is overcoming some depression now  because  beaches used to be crowded with Russian tourists, even in their boutiques sale guys spoke Russian. We teach world to speak Russian. Even though, European politicians showed their back to our Natural recourse. It just politicians. Common people talk about different things and hope for the better.

As for us, me and my wife discussed in spring which visa we should apply for Finnish (1 year) or Pribalic (3 years). … But our Petersburg’s Europe is not worse” (and even better…)

Quote: ” Итак, иммиграция.

Я начну с странного утверждения, мы уже давно европейцы.
 Как, удивишься ты, после очевидного похолодания, экономических санкций, политических обвинений – европейцы?
 Так называемый “средний класс”, прокатил, прокатал Европу, из конца в конец  и …не воодушевлён, он реально смотрит на мир, не через розовые очки.  Да, уехал Гуриев. и  был большой шум в газетах по этому поводу. Мозги убегают, замещаем их таджиками, которые у
нас улицы подметают.
 Массового отъезда нет.Жизнь немного наладилась. Подъезды стали чище, Город меняется чуть не ежедневно в лучшую сторону. Идёшь вдоль Мойки у Михайловского замка- книжная ярмарка. Как, зачем? Недавно ведь проходила в Манеже и там было столпотворение. А люди стали больше читать. Кажется, музеями Питер не обделён. Весной заглянул в Главный штаб на Дворцовой. Там когда-то помещались Министерства Иностранных дел, Финансов. В Советское время была контора, в которой работали мои знакомые.Сейчас это филиал Эрмитажа. Четыре этажа. На третьем “ампир” на четвёртом все импрессионисты,, постимпрессинисты, пуантилисты
И места ещё….можно из запасников тысячи произведений разместить. Я в сентябре привёл туда … и с трудом вывел через пять с половиной часов. Меняются дома, подъезды, ЛЮДИ. Наверное не везде и не так быстро, как хотелось бы. Но в транспорте нет склок. Я два раза в неделю забирал внучку из садика и отвозил к себе домой. “Час пик”. За год нам не уступили место пару раз. … ведёт кружок математики в центре города в элитной частной школе., Скромные, ответственные вежливые ребята- говорит она. Родители этих ребят ведут бизнес в мире, девочка, с которой занималась Алла в этом году уже учится в Лондоне. Но никто не обсуждает проблему: “надо валить”.”как валить”, “куда валить” Новая, будущая элита, совсем не “братки” из 90х годов. Наш друг в 90х уехал в Америку. Потом рассказывал, еду по шоссе, обгоняет навороченная машина. Вздрагиваю ищу глазами “бойца” с громадной шеей и стриженым затылком. В кабине очаровательная девушка. Наш друг вернулся, построил дом у Петергофа, сейчас заканчивает отделку внутренних помещений. В прошлое воскресенье подбрасывал нас с гостей на “тойоте”,  Сейчас я напишу письмо, отправлюсь на матч по баскетболу на вновь построенную Сибур-арену, не уступающую европейским аналогам.
 В 90е уехали наши лучшие друзья. Они в Америке, Канаде, Болгарии, Израиле. Практически все состоялись , достигли известных высот. Не очень удалась в плане карьеры жизнь наших друзей в Израиле.
 Так что надо было ждать?
Каждый выбрал себе дорогу.и не жалеет об этом.
Я начал с того, что мы  уже давно европейцы. Европа помогла увидеть нашу жизнь со стороны, помогла во многом измениться, помогла отбросить многие  иллюзии. Мало этого, Европа к нам привыкла, часто ей без нас плохо. После изменения курса доллара и евро в России  приграничные городки в Финляндии сворачивают производство, торговлю, проводят увольнения рабочих. В Чехии, откуда мы вернулись в сентябре, переживают, за нас и надеются на изменение ситуации. Я уже не говорю об Италии, десятки  километров побережья Римини были забиты русскими туристами. Где в любом бутике  Сан Марино нас зазывали на русском языке. Мы научили мир говорить на русском. Теперь  европейская элита воротит нос, им не нужен русский газ, нефть, Пусть берут у других, а мы наконец, наладим собственную переработку нефти или сжижение газа, появятся новые рабочие места. Это элита. Простые люди на улицах говорят о другом. Да и деловой мир  надеется на улучшение отношений.  Мы с …. этой весной обсуждали вопрос, какую визу брать. Годовую у финнов или трёхгодичную у прибалтов.
 Да, эстонцы, латыши, литовцы. под разговоры о страшной угрозе, нависшей над их странами, предлагают нам визы на три года. Мы взяли финскую, потому что  до этой самой Европы нам на автобусе пару часов. И наша Питерская Европа, представляется мне ничуть не хуже.”