West End actors between engagements man the phones at Isle of Dogs call centre
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 September 2015 | UPDATED: 13:07 14 September 2015
Ring up most call centres and you might find a recorded voice telling you your call “is important to us” — but you’re still number 10 in the queue.
What if you get through to a live, professional actor or actress instead?
That’s what happens when callers dial a centre run by RSVP Media Response on the Isle of Dogs in east London, which has just passed its silver jubilee with a starry 125 per cent rise in business.
They employ professional actors and actresses who are “taking a break” between engagements on the stage, filming or telly work.
The wannabe stars don’t follow scripts slavishly when you ring, like other call centres — they have the patter off by heart. And they chat.
The centre, which has increased its client businesses from just nine to 60 in the past five years, is now having to take two more floors in the Northern & Shell Tower at Crossharbour for an additional 240 phone operators.
“We are ‘out-performing’ our competitors due to professional actors we hire from the vibrant West End stage,” the company’s business development director Simon Christie explains.
“Most have trained in vocal production for a start. They have highly-developed communication skills.”
The operators “build a unique rapport” with callers from all walks of life.
Those treading the boards are lively and motivated and have a “natural empathy” to match whoever they speak to.
Managing director Mark Abernethy, who has worked at RSVP since the beginning, tells you: “We have become one of the leaders in the industry because we nurture unique, talented people.”
The bosses themselves are all ex-actors who started off on the phones, so they empathise with their staff.
Up-and-coming actors feel understood, knowing there may be many “jumps” between the film set and headset before the big break. Most stay for two to three years, which contrasts with other call centres that can see 100pc turnover in just 12 months.
The company also lets agents know about the next available roles in film, TV, or theatre.
Should a suitable audition be spotted, the actors immediately email their CV and, if chosen for audition, can quit their call desks immediately!
And that’s without putting you on ‘hold’.
Photos: Peter Tweedie