For 16 years, I have worked in the customer service and contact center industry. Until coming to Compassion, my experience was strictly in the for-profit world. Over the years, I’ve personally handled or listened to thousands upon thousands of customer service calls. Taking payments, refunding payments, solving problems, causing problems, selling products, selling services, setting up accounts, canceling accounts, saving accounts, asking questions, answering questions, greeting the caller, thanking the caller, putting people on hold, transferring to another department, ordering products, re-ordering products, taking credit cards, changing addresses, updating phone numbers…the list goes on and on.
The call center industry is known for its high turnover rate and constant influx of new employees. Many attribute this to the repetition and monotonous nature of the work. For the caller, a question or issue is often resolved when the call ends. For the customer service rep, he or she continues to answer or resolve that same question multiple times every day.
I came to a crossroads in my career a couple of summers ago. After several years of managing customer service operations, I began to question what lasting impact I was having. For every customer I served, there was another waiting. There was never any sense of completion, the work always continued – never ending.
Through a series of events (too detailed to list), God led me to Compassion. As the director of our customer service operation, I can tell you – it’s a much different world over here. In the midst of our day-to-day customer service efforts, we are witness to extraordinary miracles. We have the unique privilege of seeing how God moves through the hearts of His people to accomplish his purpose in ways that continually surprise and encourage us. Some of my personal favorites…
- A sponsor whose child was selected for the Leadership Development Program (LDP), who had recently lost her job, took a step of faith and committed to sponsoring the LDP student despite the significant increase in monthly giving that would be required. God’s provision came through and she continues to sponsor the LDP student today.
- A woman who lost her husband in a tragic car accident decided to sponsor a child and requested a boy with the same first name. To her surprise, the child also shared the same birthday with her husband.
- An employee was answering a sponsor’s question about Family Gifts and mentioned that her own sponsored child had bought a cow with her family gift, but that sadly the cow had recently died. It turned out that the sponsor she was talking with was a cattle rancher, who decided on the spot to donate a family gift to her sponsored child so that the family could buy another cow.
- A sponsor attended a Michael W. Smith concert and was looking at the packets on the Compassion display table. God moved on her heart to sponsor a specific child whose packet she felt drawn to, but she hesitated and placed the packet back on the table. Later during the concert, as Compassion was being presented, ushers were passing out packets for people to consider. She decided at that point to raise her hand. She was handed the very same packet she had placed back on the table earlier in the evening.
- A man called in at the last moment on December 31st wanting to make a year-end donation for tax purposes. He had decided to donate the money to Compassion and proceeded to make an individual contribution of $40,000!
There are so many stories like this that we encounter on a daily basis. This is no ordinary customer service job. And the industry standard for call center employee turnover? As you might imagine, we see a slightly different trend. By contrast, we have some employees who have served in our contact center for as many as 18 years.
Working at Compassion has completely altered my view of the call center industry. What was once just another customer service interaction is now filled with the possibility of seeing God’s hand at work in the lives of those who serve Him, each call a tangible example of everyday people reaching outside themselves to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Thank you for calling Compassion, indeed.
Brad Barker is our Director of Sponsor and Donor Relations (SDR). He oversees the daily operation of our contact center which provides customer service support to sponsors and donors via e-mail, letters and phone calls.