The Answer Group (TAG) is a large call center located in North Lauderdale Florida. It is (according to its own spokespeople) the second largest employer in Broward County Florida (the largest being the Broward County School Board).
It is the opinion of this commenter that The Answer Group, while hyping itself as a great place to work, is in actuality only a very small step above what would once be referred to as a stockyard. Although TAG is not guilty of outright deception the way many of the other companies listed on this site theoretically are, the fact is that they resort to a certain level of what we would call Spin to draw people in. So my recommendation is not that people don't go to work for TAG. But I am supplying some information here that might make some people who were thinking about making TAG their next place of employment reconsider.
I myself first discovered TAG in 2005. At the time I was trying to escape from an awful telemarketing gig that wasn't going anywhere. That's when one of my friends at work mentioned TAG. I logged on to their website, filled out the online application, passed the multiple choice test, was granted an interview and hired basically in the blink of an eye. My first though was: excellent! If nothing else at TAG I would actually be helping people, not bugging them over the phone.
In actuality, getting hired at TAG is no big feat as I soon discovered. Basically, TAG will hire just about anyone breathing. Anyone with a heartbeat, basic communication skills and anyone who knows how to operate a computer (and by operate, knowing where to point the mouse) is a good candidate for a job at TAG. My point is not that they should be only hiring people with four year college degrees (today's society places way too much of an emphasis on college). But at least be a tad selective in whom you hire.
Another aspect that drew me in was the pay: $12 an hour. Actually, that aspect is only half truthful. Yes, you do get paid $12 an hour. But as you are informed on the first day of training that only counts when you are logged into the phone and ready to take calls. When you are not logged in, you are logged in on Auxiliary or Aux Time. At the end of each pay cycle (you get paid every two weeks), the Aux time is added up and for every hour of Aux time, you get paid minimum wage. So let this serve as a warning, you can make good money at TAG. But don't let the AUX time add up.
The training classes usually last two weeks. During the classes you are supposed to learn what you need to learn to be a good support technician. Again, we find ourselves in half truth territory. Although there is hands on training (especially during the second week) and although the basic of being a technician are touched on, the majority of time spent during those two weeks is spent learning how to push buttons. In other words, you are taught primarily about software programs and how they work. Which is good to know (essential even). However, more time would be better spent on actual hands on. (As a side note: I had no problem with any of the training instructors).
Once you get through training, its out on to the floor. Depending on how well you did on the test you took on the opening day of training, you will be placed on one of the several accounts TAG services. (Side Note:The companies TAG provides service for include BellSouth, Sprint, Comcast, Gateway, SBC and Hughes.) Theoretically the real computer experts go to Gateway, while those with minimal or no computer knowledge go to Comcast (the biggest of the accounts). Originally I was placed with the Sprint account. But before I could begin training, it was announced more people were needed on Comcast and I was one of the chosen ones.
Once I got settled in for my two weeks of Comcast training, the one mantra that was drummed into my brain (as well as the brains of other classmates) was keep the call time low. If you go over a certain limit (usually 9 minutes), your supervisor will be on your a*s to get the call wrapped up ASAP.
While there is some legitimate concern here (and some callers do forget that this is a business line and tend to chatter on and on) trying to set a quota on call times is too one size fits all to really work. This is especially true when one's dealing with older customers or customers using older, pokey computers.
But the basic rule is that getting the call wrapped up in a certain amount of time is generally of higher priority than helping the customer resolve the problem. I make no claims that this is always an issue as sometimes the problem can be identified and fixed relatively quickly. However, sometimes fixing a problem can require a certain amount of time and the people up top at TAG need to remember that.
Other issues crop up frequently, such as computers getting locked and workers being unable to log on to them, equipment frequently not working, software programs going down when the workers need to use them.
The main issue that prompted me to write this was one with scheduling that popped up in October 2005. This issue had to do with scheduling.
Most TAG employees work a schedule of three 12-hour days, one six hour day and three days off. However, there was also a large group of people who worked a regular 8-4 M-F shift (bankers hours as it used to be known). In October of 2005, the decision was made to phase that shift out and move all of the people on it to the 12 hour shifts.
Unfortunately, TAG had not taken into account that many of the people on that shift were on it for a reason. Many of them had families to take care of or were going to school part time and simply could not work a 12 hour shift. As a result a good many workers, many of them dedicated, left TAG.
The reason TAG gave for this massive change was the fact that they were getting pounded with calls on the weekends and needed more people working then. However, another reason soon began to surface that seemed far more likely.
Refer back to my earlier comments about TAG's hiring practices. It seems that TAG had during the last hiring cycle, hired TOO MANY people for the Comcast account. So they needed to get rid of them. But they don't wanna lay them off, Noooo. That would require paying unemployment benefits. So they decide the best way to trim the fat is by causing employee dissatisfaction.
In spite of all that I just wrote and all the criticism I just hurled at TAG, I make no claims that TAG is an awful company. It is possible to work for them and make good money and be happy. However, if you are the type who doesn't like having supervisors breathe down their neck, if you value helping the customer over meeting an artificially assigned quota and if you don't like having your scheduled jerked around, keep all this in mind before applying at TAG.
Final Verdict: TAG on one level is a decent company. On another level, it's a stockyard
Los Alamos, New Mexico