Monday, April 09, 2007

BPO calling…….

Once out of college, everyone wants to hold a job of their own and not expect anymore pocket money from parents. Ten years back, the scenario was different when our brothers and sisters were out of college. It was very difficult to get a job. But now its not a tough task for any graduate to get settled with a comfortable job, especially for an engineering graduate.The controversy is about whether all of them work on what they have studied and slogged for years together. If there were twenty thousand engineers passing out of college, hardly five percent of them land up with their 'study-related' work. Whereas the majority of them were and are still bound to work in an area which is nowhere related to their degree. For instance a mechanical engineer does marketing, a production engineer creates complicated codes for some 'XYZ' bank in the UK or US. And if it is a non-engineer, he/she has to spend months for getting a decent job.

The growth of call centers have thrown a huge opportunity for freshers. A call center agent has to do nothing much but to handle a foreign customer in 'our' odd hours. We can't conclude that as an easy task because, the variety of customers who call up the centers are immense. And handling each one of them in their own way is a tough job. Most of the call center processes deals with the US and UK people which gives a difference of minimum five hours. So one has to work in a complete night shift or in UK hours(2.00 p.m. to 10.p.m Indian hours). Apart from this they also have a graveyard shift which usually starts at 4.00 a.m. Naturally then the alarm should struck by 3 a.m.Funny to even think about.But this is what is happening.

Coming to the qualification part of the employees,there is no particular degree required for this job, except for well versed English knowledge and great communication skills to handle various customers.There are intensive training programs offered by the company themselves to train our people to understand and communicate with the foreign customers. 'Bite your lower lip' for a ‘V’(Vee) and 'kiss the air' for a ‘W’(Dub u) are the techniques by which an Indian takes a transformation. Naturally it takes sometime for us to get used to their accent. And the immediate reaction of the customer while attending a call is whether the agent is from India. They are clever enough to differentiate through the accent no matter what the Pseudo-Name is. Pseudo-Name is a unique name given for each agent, where-in Ram becomes Raymond, Sai as Sam, Hari is known as Harry and so on. This way the first step of customer satisfaction starts were-in we give them a feel of non-foreigners.

Now the question arises of what exactly is the work about.Basically troubleshooting or online sales.In the former the customer calls up the agent for any problem with their computer or 'any' product; whereas the later deals with marketing and selling of products through tele-calling.Nothing much about the job, except for a thorough study of troubleshooting techniques and to follow the various call-flows which deals with the techniques to handle tough situations.The most difficult part of it to handle the customer especially when a computer illiterate. There are wide range of customers. A very common group are the 'irate' ones who get irritated when their issue is left unresolved.These customers are the ones who escalate calls to supervisors.Secondly we have the 'flirting' customers who make a call to the agent without any issue but to just flirt and kill time.A common method adopted to handle such customers are to usually warn them and cut the call.

These days the youngsters are very keen in earning a handsome amount of money.So without much hesitation and delay they chose their first job, whatever comes in hand.There are a few people who feel 'Why a call-center?' But outsourcing has a lot of scope.Whatever job they choose, job-satisfaction and dedication is what needed for a successful career.Happy calling!


praveen said...

I completely agree with you. As an attempt to add to Anu's thought:

Today more than 50% of the non-engineering graduates' jobs are based on BPOs and call centres.I wonder what would happen if, this sector of industry find its way to india???. Where does these lakhs of graduates coming out every year to seek a Job?.

Out of these 50%, 78% of the people work in odd hours. Completely detached from the rest of the world. I know some of my friends working in BPOs who developed a aversion on light. They would shout in horror if any one attempted to unscreen their windows or open their doors. They dislike the empty roads (because it is how it will be when they return from their shift...recklessly). But apart from all these discomforts, for hunting their social and economical status one is proceeding, as every one of does.

What to do... In india "Fear of Losing their lives become less important than Fear of losing their Jobs".

People would have heard about 'Chetan Bagat'.The maker of a famous novel "Five point someone" his first book,which made a stir among the youngsters. Once with the satisfication of completed a good book and created good fame, he was moving in a market.While a young girl, identified her and asked "You were chetan bagat??". The author taken away in amusement and asked "How was the book?" expecting from her a good response, since she belong to the younger generation, whom the author's target audience was. The young girl, who was working in a call center, said "It was not that hell a lot of youngsters painstake at call centers. Huge proportions of young blood flows through the concrete walls of BPO centers. their pains are hidden under their costly outfits. their tears immersed under their facials, they have learned to hide their slur under their lipsticks.If you really want to write some thing to the write some thing about call centers".

It is said that this incident inspired hime to write his second Novel "One Night at Call center".

ann said...


Yes Praveen. You are right.Most of the call center employees behave differently.

Its good that people(like Chetan Bagat) write about such untold issues.Bringing such things to limelight will effectively help people who are unaware of certain aspects.

Call center life is not an easy task.