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US Call-Center Jobs — That Pay $100K a Year 362

Posted by timothy
from the payment-for-the-gift-of-gab dept.
bheer writes "BusinessWeek profiles a call center company called iQor which has grown revenues 40% year-on-year by (shock) treating employees as critical assets. It's done this not by nickel-and-diming, but by expanding its US operations (13 centers across the US now), giving employees universal health insurance, and paying salaries and bonuses that are nearly 50% above industry norms. The article notes that outsourcing will continue and globalization will continue to change the world's economic landscape. 'But the US is hardly helpless. With smart processes and the proper incentives, US companies can keep jobs here in America, and do so in a way that is actually better for the company and its employees.' Now if only other companies get a clue as well."
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US Call-Center Jobs — That Pay $100K a Year

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  • Um, I'm doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:53PM (#29219727) Homepage Journal

    A phrase I saw in the summary almost had me sending a note to timothy from the "See any serious problems with this story? Email our on-duty editor" link, then when I RTFA I saw that it was word for word from TFA: "IQor also gives its U.S. employees universal health insurance".

    A meaningless phrase, I think. The words "health insurance" suffices; universal health insurance is what Canadian and European residents get from their government. Bad writing at the least, which lead me to suspect that there were bad facts as well. However, most of the rest of it seemed well written.

    Sure, some companies, such as Dell (DELL), have moved call centers back home after customer protests.

    Makes it look like the customers are protesting outsourcing, when in fact what pisses most people off is that the offshore phone monkeys are completely unintelligible. If you're handling calls from Mexican customers, your call center workers should be able to speak fluent Spanish, not bad Spanish like I speak.

    The best of iQor's front-line call-center workers make more than $100,000 per year.

    What's the starting wage? TFA doesn't say.

    And unlike many of its competitors, and an increasing number of other U.S. companies, iQor offers all its employees good health insurance and generous benefits packages.

    Some time in the early 1980s, the head of one of the airlines (that ironically became a union airline later) said "any company that gets a union deserves one". Treat your employees like shit, and they will treat your customers like shit, and may even organize a union.

    IQor also invests in technology designed to make its employees more efficient

    Gad, there's little I hate worse than robocallers. When I say "hello" you better echo my "hello" PDQ or I'm hanging the phone up. You called me; don't put me on hold as soon as I answer without even responding.

    From TFS: But the US is hardly helpless. With smart processes and the proper incentives, U.S. companies can keep jobs here in America, and do so in a way that is actually better for the company and its employees.

    That assumes that today's busiesspeople aren't so greedy and stupid that they're like the monkey who has his hand stuck in the jar, too stupidly greedy to let go of the treat inside. A pretty unwarranted assumption, I think.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:58PM (#29219819)

      IQor also invests in technology designed to make its employees more efficient

      Like donuts, and the possibility of more donuts.

    • Re:Um, I'm doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:00PM (#29219845)

      It doesn't matter what the starting wage is, as long as the ladder is there and you can work your way into a decent pay rate.

      More companies should consider this, rather than designing their jobs to have a single pay rate with no possibility of advancement apart from leaving to work elsewhere.

    • by cowscows (103644) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:15PM (#29220097) Journal

      I'm sure there are some things to nitpick in this particular case, but for all the different ways of crushing souls that corporations have come up with, there are still plenty of companies out there that see value in having happy employees, and with owners just trying to make an honest buck, rather than squeezing every possible dime out of the world.

      I guess the lesson at the end of the day is that there's more than one way to run a business. Imagine that.

    • by Quothz (683368) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:21PM (#29220185) Journal

      The words "health insurance" suffices; universal health insurance is what Canadian and European residents get from their government.

      No, it makes sense. Many companies offer health insurance to salaried professionals, but not to hourly employees. Others have different plans available for workers at different levels. In the context of a business, "universal" excludes those cases.

    • by nologin (256407) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:22PM (#29220191) Homepage

      Even though they say that they can give you more perks, the call center jobs still sucks...

      Why?

      Because when a company is proud that it's turnover rate is only 45% (less than half the industry's average), it tells me that this job is something I would never want to touch with a five foot pole (as opposed to a ten foot one).

      A company with 45% turnover on 11000 employees means approximately 4950 employees get churned out in a year. That still isn't very good...

      • by Golias (176380) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:49PM (#29220625)

        A company with 45% turnover on 11000 employees means approximately 4950 employees get churned out in a year. That still isn't very good...

        A call-center job, no matter how fun and rewarding it might be, is still an entry-level position. When most of your workforce is already planning on being somewhere else in a few years while you are training them in, a 45% turnover rate is OUTSTANDING.

        If you're still holding the exact same position at the exact same company which you took right after graduation, that's not an "entry-level" job, but a "dead-end" job.

        A call center is where you work while you take night classes in network administration, computer programming, or towards your MBA, which will prep you for whatever your REAL career will be. Nobody dreams about growing up to deal with angry customers for a living until retirement, unless you mean "deal with" them in the mafia sense of the word.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Grishnakh (216268)

          Yeah, but from what I've seen, programmers and network admins usually don't make more than $100k except in CA (where the cost of living and ridiculous taxes overwhelm the pay differential).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BigDish (636009)

          Depends on the call center. I work in what is effectively a call center for a large software company at the escallation site (in the US). Me and my peers love our job, Salaries get into the six-figures after you've been here for 2-3 years (not that they start low, mind you), customers don't scream at us, and we aren't taking calls as fast as we can. I have a friend that works escallations for a large PC company and it's a similar experience for him,

          I completely understand that my experience is not a typi

      • Re:Um, I'm doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Eil (82413) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:22PM (#29221185) Homepage Journal

        Even though they say that they can give you more perks, the call center jobs still sucks...

        Why?

        Because when a company is proud that it's turnover rate is only 45% (less than half the industry's average), it tells me that this job is something I would never want to touch with a five foot pole (as opposed to a ten foot one).

        Don't judge a an entire industry by the majority of the businesses that comprise it. I work for a managed web hosting company that's doing splendidly even in the recession because we bend over backwards to please our customers. Even when it means that once in awhile we have to refund an entire month's bill to keep the account or dedicate a tech's shift to solving a particularly troublesome MySQL problem. Although there is much that I disagree with in terms of management decisions here, one thing that I stand behind is their commitment to treating every single employee like gold. The pay is not stellar, but we have full medical and dental; a theatre-style lounge complete with projectors, cable TV, Xbox, and PC gaming rigs; unlimited free soft drinks and the company pays for outings like trips to sports games, amusement parks, newly-released movies, paintball, you name it. Every job here is stressful but the perks and camaraderie make it all totally worthwhile and as a result, we have no problem going the extra mile on a daily basis for the customers.

        • Re:Um, I'm doubtful (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Kristoph (242780) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @05:57PM (#29223771)

          I've co-founded a start-up or 3. My co-founders and I have never offered 'a theatre-style lounge complete with projectors, cable TV, Xbox, and PC gaming rigs; unlimited free soft drinks and the company pays for outings like trips to sports games, amusement parks, newly-released movies, paintball, you name it'. We do always make sure everyone has good hardware and a pleasant working environment. Also, we make sure our team members are well paid.

          IMHO, all else being equal, good pay is a much stronger retention mechanism then toys and free drinks. It's especially critical if you're looking to recruit and retain people with families. Better for productivity too.

          ]{

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @07:17PM (#29224729)

            I agree. I want to get paid (well) and then go home to the people I *really* want to hang out with. When I see companies with movie theaters and free drinks, all it tells me is that they expect their work to become my life. Thanks, but no thanks.

        • by Geminii (954348) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:57PM (#29226475)
          I just like the juxtaposition of "full dental" with "unlimited free soft drinks". :)
    • Re:Um, I'm doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:30PM (#29220319)

      Interestingly enough, the city I'm from had a "near-shore" call centre. I'm Canadian, and we've got the Western Pacific accent here.

      They were considered an excellent bargain because the staff spoke fluent, unaccented English. The customers loved it.

      It messed up our local economy in a strange way -- West paid $10 / hour to start, which meant that every store in town, from KFC to the Dollar Store, had to pay at least that or they wouldn't get staff. West employed thousands of people, and had a voracious appetite. When you can get $8 frying burgers or $10 + bus passes + tuition bonuses + entry into car draws, we had stores "closed today due to lack of staff".

      When our dollar reached parity last year, it became more expensive to run West than it was to just pay for Americans to do the job. They closed.

      • Re:Um, I'm doubtful (Score:4, Informative)

        by pcolaman (1208838) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:08PM (#29220957)

        Oh geez, West. Talk about a shit-faced company. No direct deposit unless you've worked there five years (like anyone would stay there that long), no assigned desk (rotated seating, even a bathroom break means logging out of your system and then finding a new one when you come back), systems that require running about 6-7 IE Windows and a few other network applications with only 512MB of RAM, 10 minute breaks that are cut short because you have to log back into said slow ass system about 4-5 minutes early in order to get back on the phone after the break, and team leads and senior reps that treat you like it's a damn elementary school. I have no illusion that call center jobs are great jobs, by and large, but I've worked with three different call centers and working at West by far was the worst experience of the three, no contest. The best thing about it was when I called in to tell them I was quitting, they didn't even act a tiny bit surprised. The average employee probably stays there about 2-3 months, including the training that lasts about a month and is much easier than the actual work.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a programmer that works directly with the call centers for a Fortune 500 company: there are a -lot- of other pieces of technology that helps efficiency other than robocallers. Live speech recognition to tell what common customer problems are, smarter call routing (you've called recently before, you must have a problem, let's move you to a higher-level agent), even simple things like better screenpops.

      As to robocallers, though: Our company uses a plain dialer for contacting customers in collections, but

    • by matastas (547484) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:43PM (#29220531)
      Not sure how you made the leap from 'technology designed to make its employees more efficient' to robocallers.

      From my understanding of TFA, IQor does customer service type of stuff. So, sophisticated knowledge bases, good front-ends for customer service tools, flexible processes, etc. can all be examples of tech that makes a customer service group more efficient (there's much more). Robocallers wouldn't even apply (the only automated piece of the called is, sometimes, the greeting).

      Did I miss something?
    • by iamhassi (659463)
      "The best of iQor's front-line call-center workers make more than $100,000 per year."

      Yeah but it looks like they outsourced their CEO [iqor.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      A meaningless phrase, I think. The words "health insurance" suffices; universal health insurance is what Canadian and European residents get from their government. Bad writing at the least, which lead me to suspect that there were bad facts as well. However, most of the rest of it seemed well written.

      No we don't.

      Sure, if I stab myself with a fork, or need a prescription, going to a doctor or hospital is free. (expensive for the system, but free for me)

      But dentists aren't free... and neither are optometrists. To get arch supports or other foot correction covered requires special (expensive) health insurance, but to get back surgery done doesn't.

      After tripping down the stairs I had to pay for a chiropractic visit out of my own pocket. Our "universal healthcare" is pretty much limited to hospital/MD crap.

  • This... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zulater (635326) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @01:54PM (#29219743)
    This is how the small business I work for operates. They treat employees as a vital resource and asset. They know they invest a lot of time and money to hire and train us so they compensate us well according to how well we help the company make money. They know that without the people doing the work the business wouldn't make money. It's how companies used to operate and imho how they should operate.

    Sure in the lean times we don't get the nice bonuses we are used to but we get to keep our jobs because they don't squander away money when times are good because they know bad times are coming.

    Common sense that seems lost in this day and age.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      As a business owner, I try to do the same thing. It's not difficult, you just can't be greedy. Do well a couple of months? Do go by yourself a brand new $100K car. Shove that cash into reserves, for when you have lean months and don't want to let people go. Good bosses/owners make for great/secure jobs for employees. I don't need an MBA to tell me that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Another ditto from a small business owner. What's always amazed me is that most companies, rightfully, put the customer first. Employees should come in second, not executive bonuses. After all, it's the employees who get/interact with those "precious" customers, not the executives.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JustOK (667959)

          It's not a simple rank, 'tho. Without employees, customers are useless. Without customers, employees are useless. Without customers and employees, executives are useless. Of the three, executives are most expendable. Or, at least, most of the executives.

    • Re:This... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mansa (94579) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:25PM (#29220241)

      Yep-

      And that attitude works on a large scale too... one of my company's founders said this about 80 years ago:

      "When all is said and done, this business is nothing but a symbol. And when we translate this, we find that it means a great many people think well of its products, and that a great multitude has faith in the integrity of the men who make this product.

      "In a very short time, the machines that are now so lively will soon become obsolete. And the big buildings, for all their solidity, must some day be replaced.

      "But a business which symbolizes can live so long as there are human beings alive. For it is not built of such flimsy materials as steel and concrete; it is built of human opinions, which may be made to live forever.

      "The goodwill of the people is the only enduring thing in any business. It is the sole substance... the rest is shadow."

      They take care of us, and we do our best to make the company successful.

    • They know that without the people doing the work the business wouldn't make money. It's how companies used to operate and imho how they should operate.

      When was this a common idiom for business? I am not aware of any golden age when it was common for a person to work his way out of poverty by selling his labor power.

      The point of capitalism is not to lift up the employees. The point is to take their work and pay them less than the amount of money it generated for the business, while pocketing the difference. There'll be anomalies here and there, but it's never been normal for employees to be paid in proportion to the value they create.

      • Re:This... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:46PM (#29220579)

        The point of capitalism is not to lift up the employees.

        You are looking at this through the evil end of the prism. The point of the article is that you can make money *while* lifting up employees, possibly more than if you crush them beneath your booted heal.

      • I am not aware of any golden age when it was common for a person to work his way out of poverty by selling his labor power.

        The point of capitalism is not to lift up the employees. The point is to take their work and pay them less than the amount of money it generated for the business, while pocketing the difference. There'll be anomalies here and there, but it's never been normal for employees to be paid in proportion to the value they create.

        Then you missed the entire Industrial Revolution, the coming of Labor Unions to protect laborers from exploitation. There were anomolies in there where men of vision made money and poor craftsmen and laborers made money. A lot of rural farmers left the fields for the cities to make money. There are historical studies that say the early 19th Century destroyed the skilled craftsman, by replacing their skilled labors with cheaply manufactured goods. However by the end of the same century the laborers that oper

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902)

        The point of capitalism is not to lift up the employees. The point is to take their work and pay them less than the amount of money it generated for the business, do the same for yourself while investing the difference.

        There, fixed that for you.

        There'll be anomalies here and there, but it's never been normal for employees to be paid in proportion to the value they create.

        Nope, never. Not even non-profits do that. Not even communist countries do that. No one, ever, ever, ever does that as a matter of practice and stays in business. You see, there are things other than the employee that must be paid for. Taxes for one. Social Sec

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      They know that without the people doing the work the business wouldn't make money. It's how companies used to operate and imho how they should operate.

      I'm hopeful that good employers like that will drive the bad ones out of business. I'm not optimistic, however. Globalization means to most of today's businesspeople "Fuck the customer, fuck the employee, there are six billion more where they came from".

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I recently started work at a medium-size company, which gave me (relative to other companies in the area, and in light of the current economy) what seems to me to be a very generous salary, I believe it was because they were desperate for my skills (which aren't that common in this metro area) and to make sure I didn't take another offer that wasn't a 30-minute commute away.

      However, while they had no trouble paying me well, for a bunch of stupid reasons, they absolutely refuse to get any of us software deve

  • Wishful Thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mpapet (761907) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:00PM (#29219865) Homepage

    1. Call centers are in the more depressed parts of the U.S. I have a sneaking suspicion the workers are happy-ish to be there, but aren't part of a healthy middle class.
    2...U.S. employees universal health insurance. What kind? PPO. I'm tired of hearing this topline chant when the details of the policies are depressing.
    3....and pays salaries and bonuses that are nearly 50% above industry norms. So, are the call center workers still the working poor?
    4. The best of iQor's front-line call-center workers make more than $100,000 per year The best one serving an uber-tight niche. More spam.

  • That's Ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:03PM (#29219907) Homepage Journal

    The CEO of this company was born in India!

    I think it says something very nasty about U.S. corporate culture that it takes an immigrant the see value in hiring Americans.

  • So if I am on the call with a "support representative" for 1 hour, it would cost them $52 in raw employment costs?? What type of service could possible afford this structure other than the financial services industry??

    They dont outsource because they are evil. They do it because they are trying to reduce the cost of things.... Yes, the model is flawed, however, and I suspect that in 10 years a computer will be the new support representative. Then I can tell it how bad I hate the company it works for whi

    • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:17PM (#29220115) Homepage

      I suspect that in 10 years a computer will be the new support representative. Then I can tell it how bad I hate the company it works for while not feeling bad about it...

      Just don't tell it how you feel about Windows 8 :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rhsanborn (773855)
      I suspect the fact that these people are incredibly efficient and good at their jobs means that you're less likely to be on the phone for an hour, which appears to be the point. They may get paid 4x more than the average phone jockey, but if they can handle 5x as many calls, then they are a better deal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jandrese (485)
        The only problem with that theory is that the people calling in will be just as dumb and angry as ever, so even if the guy in the call center is great he probably won't see the massive increase in productivity that you would expect.

        It seems to me that this company is the perfect "second tier" tech support line. The first tier being the guys in India who just go down the list regardless of what problem you have because 75% of the time it's the same dumb problem again and these guys get paid way too much t
  • HIdden Cost (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gers0667 (459800)

    I won't name names, but one of our competitors does this. The down side, they over-inflate their prices to the customers to compensate for 6 digit salaries for sales people. They are lucky to be in a business where they can pull this off because of the complexity of pricing, but as with any market, the margins get thinner and thinner and they just won't last.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:06PM (#29219957)

    Quote: "But the US is hardly helpless. With smart processes and the proper incentives, U.S. companies can keep jobs here in America
    .
    Managers rarely care, and even more rarely, have the technical expertise to handle labor decisions in ways that benefit themselves and the country. Their entire focus is getting that next bonus. If they have to move 75% of their operations to lower Slobbovia to do it, they will, rather than spend the 15 minutes of googling and thinking that would allow them to do the job more efficiently and cheaply in the USA.
    .
    Unfortunately, in the USA, most managers have MBAs but nothing else, an education which seems to leave most of them with the ability to do almost anything financial except understand and run a business in real time.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:11PM (#29220025)

    When you hear about these compensation packages the execs are getting, it makes you wonder how far that could stretch if divided equitably amongst the workers.

    The sad truth is that people don't seem to want to pay more for quality, they'll only pay more for fashion. When Macs were sold based on their utility, they eventually lost out to the up and coming Wintel systems that weren't as good but were a whole lot cheaper. The Mac CEO at the time was advised to cut the price and he said "No, people will pay for quality." No, they didn't. Not enough of them. And Mac didn't really make a comeback until Steve Jobs made them sexy again, made technology dance to the same tune as fashion. Suddenly Apple is chic and cool and people are happy to pay ridiculous gobs of money.

    Go figure.

    • by cowscows (103644)

      To be fair, in Apple's tougher times, they were selling a lot of crappy products. OSX isn't just more "fashionable" than MacOS 9 was, it's a whole lot better.

    • Completely true. Americans want cheap; they don't want quality. How else does Wal Mart make so much money? Most of its products are cheap, not of high quality. Everything is disposable, like a Bic razor. You pay next to nothing (relatively speaking) for it, so when it breaks, you just buy another one.
      The problem is that labor is now being viewed the same way.

      • by Lost Engineer (459920) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:51PM (#29220673)

        The widening income gap has left a huge hole in consumer items, particularly durable goods. High end goods (ie durables that actually last) are many multiples of the price of cheaper goods. Somehow luxury and utility/durability have merged. If you don't believe me go try and buy a set of knives. Your choices are: a) bendy throwaway toys at walmart/target/whatever or b) half a paycheck at some kitchen boutique.

        My policy now is that if something is supposed to last (and I can afford it or afford to do without it for a while) I make sure to buy well and buy once. It sucks though that I have to do so from brands and places that have outrageous markups though.

  • You know, if you treat your customers right and treat your employees right, you don't need (or want) to work off of price.

    Just look at Nordstrom.

    I remember a similar story in 1998, when I read an article (I still have clipped) from Fast Company Magazine (http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/21/sanity.html) where they were exceptional to their employees. They had free onsite daycare, free clinics, a mandatory gym...

    As a result, they were reported to keep thier employee turnover rates down, had happier custome
  • by tthomas48 (180798) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:12PM (#29220045) Homepage

    They moved their first call center out of Austin not because their employees were demanding high wages, but because they'd so pissed off everyone even remotely technical in town that they couldn't hire anyone in the first place.
    The great thing about following Dell is at least you know you're going to go into bankruptcy really, really slowly. I guess that's a business plan.

    • A dell bankruptcy would be tragic, in the literary sense. They will have driven computer prices so low as to put themselves out of business. However it ends, that is quite an accomplishment.

  • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:16PM (#29220101)

    In addition to these benefits, the company also offers world peace, satellite launches, and ponies.

  • ...just ditch the regulations that drive companies overseas in the first place - minimum wage, and regulations based on political pull (e.g. govt-union partnerships), for starters.
    • by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:25PM (#29220247)

      At the very least, minimum wage should be decided at the state or local level. What constitutes a "fair" minimum wage in B-F-Nowhere, Ohio sure as hell isn't a "fair" wage in New York City.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Minimum wages are set locally. Large cities frequently have higher minimum wage than the Federal minimum wage. The government's minimum wage is what is considered fair for an American, regardless of where you live in America. It's not really in the people's interest to create a serf class of actual Americans. At least with illegal immigrants you can deport them if they start causing trouble.
        • by Acer500 (846698)

          Minimum wages are set locally. Large cities frequently have higher minimum wage than the Federal minimum wage.

          Ahhh.... but there IS a Federal minimum wage. I think the GP was talking about LOWERING it, not increasing it.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      just ditch the regulations that drive companies overseas in the first place - minimum wage

      If you look at the list of minimum wages by country [wikipedia.org], you'll see that most countries have a higher minimum wage than the US's.

      and regulations based on political pull (e.g. govt-union partnerships)

      What government-union partnerships? Google lists only seven pages [google.com]. What are you talking about?

  • CWA 1701 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:23PM (#29220205)

    I know at IBM, most mainframe operators (including myself) made over $100k. It wasn't that hard. IBM just worked us to death, and paid us time and a half over 40. When you're working 12-hours a day 7 days a week (84 hours), the dollars add up ($27 RG, $41.50 OT). Add in the fact that I worked the night shift at the time, so I literally couldn't spend the money I was making. I left after a few years.

    I imagine a call-center like this is counting those 6-figure salaries in the same way. They pay their top employees to work 70 / 80 hours a week.

    Google the title. I agree that any company that gets a union deserves one.

  • by Niris (1443675)
    I work for a subcontracted dispatching company for Dish Network technicians called Linkus, and I can honestly say customer service would be a Hell of a lot better if they actually paid us more for the bullshit we have to deal with on a daily basis, and stopped trying to fit more tasks in for us to do on top of the already horribly busy day. As it stands, it's a dollar over minimum an hour to work a 10 hour day of listening to yelling customers, angry technicians, recording stat information from jobs, and ma
  • Much like the rest of the IT industry, mediocracy will become the norm and rewarded with ever growing salaries until the business becomes unsustainable and goes under. HR, diversity requirements and threat of lawsuits will not allow for an elite class of worker who makes exorbitantly more money, forcing the bar to be lowered.
  • by bzzfzz (1542813) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:48PM (#29220609)
    There was a brief time when companies considered high-quality customer service to be a competitive edge. This lasted from the beginning of large-scale DP in the 1970s until sometime in the early 1990s when most industries started to see customer service as a cost to be reduced.

    If you've already made a decision to provide crap customer service (an MBA would call it "minimizing service cost to the extent feasible"), it is cheaper to do this from locations with low labor costs. Most companies still prefer to provide crap customer service, and if you call almost any company selling cable, wireless, credit card, satellite, ISP service, banking, or insurance of any kind this is what you're likely to get.

    I presume that iQor is working with clients in high-value segments where high-quality customer service still matters. At this point, such a market is relatively small. There's no doubt it costs more, because you have to be able to retain the good reps, which means you can't put as much pressure on them to meet quotas, and you have to pay them more, and generally put up with things like doctor visits and bathroom breaks that drive down productivity. And you have to hire managers who actually know how to manage and motivate people. Compared to low-wage offshore locations, you end up paying 10x or 20x as much per call (I'm guessing).

    The wireless places and the banks and credit cards aren't, at this point, willing to do this. They model how much churn they're going to get, and what it will cost them, and decide that it isn't worth it. So it's a niche, where if you've sold someone a $20,000 injection molding machine or something, you feel more compelled to have someone on the phone who can actually figure out when it's going to ship.

    I'm not convinced that that changes anything, because niches by their nature do not scale well.

    And I don't think that my cell phone company is going to start having live humans making $30 an hour answer 611 calls on the second ring, either.

  • Our cable company (Rogers) decided to bill us for a non-existent mobile phone account, apparently because the phone subscriber's last name and ours were similar. Spent months talking/fighting/threatening Rogers to get them to cease attributing these bills to us, and we finally succeeded.

    Fast forward 6 months, and all of a sudden we're swamped with 5-6 automated voice messages daily (!) from Iqor. They'd obviously bought the bad paper and were trying to collect. I called them back and explained the situat
  • HP Way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Moof123 (1292134) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:52PM (#29220689)

    Even HP/Agilent have lost their way after the founders left. Back in the 50's-80's when the founders still called the shots they valued people (down to the janitors), treated them well, and fostered an environment that was aimed at excellence (i.e. you were inspired to keep up with your coworkers, not constantly dragged down to their level). Once the MBA's got in charge it has been steadily downhill.

    The lure to cut costs vs. the hard to quantify benefits of nurturing employees through creating a rewarding work environement is one few business majors who have not come up through the ranks can appreciate. Sadly it feels like virtually all corporate cultures have succumb to the dark side.

    I used to work 60 hour weeks happily, but having been outright screwed by too many MBA driven nickel and diming fiascos I no longer do. I work my 8 hours and go home, keeping my head down the whole time. I pour my creative juices into home projects instead of unrewarding work ones (3 industrial sewing machine actually come close to the fun of microwave IC design, who'd of thunk?).

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @02:53PM (#29220697) Journal

    I hope one day people will realize that most executives (in publicly-traded companies) DON'T have the companies', the investors' or the employees' interests at heart. Most of these executives gained their position due to crafty manipulation and NOT by actually, really improving a product or product line, increasing profitability or market share. But they were and will be always great at presenting their (short or very short term) results in the best light possible, and excellent at knowing and manipulating the right people.

    This breed of executives will outsource to poor countries (thus providing a short-term, fleeting increase in margins), lower salaries and/or fire employees at home (thus providing a short-term, fleeting increase in margins) and eliminate R&D and products/services (thus providing a short-term, fleeting increase in margins) - which will look good for a short while. Long enough to get a new promotion or a job at another company, after cashing in.

    Please do yourself a favor and have a glance at this book. [amazon.com]

  • This whole offshore call center crap may, as a practical matter, push Congress too far one day. Which is to say, push (us, lower-case note) Americans who vote for cretins too far one day.

    Sooner or later a power-hungry politician will come along and note, loudly and rhetorically, that some businesses are turning into giant wads of foreign money using computers and hirelings to harass Americans by phone call, from outside the country.

    What happens then is anybody's guess. If I could insert an "eating popcorn

  • by istartedi (132515) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:06PM (#29220913) Journal

    These $100k phone jobs aren't, "How do I plug in the VCR?" support.

    As somebody else pointed out, It's collections and sales. That's a totally different beast from what most geeks think of as call-center.

    These 6-figure people collect or sell 7-figures. They are not informing you that the router is down, or giving you the IP address for the mail server.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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