Friday, August 20, 2010

Hello Obama...America Calling?

121 - "Welcome to enterprise services of (BEEP BEEP BEEP). Dial 1 for English, Hindi mein jankari ke liye 2 dabaiye.

Dial 1 for Mobile / GSM, Dial 2 for Landline / Broadband...

...Please wait when we transfer your call to a customer service executive. (PAUSE) All our customer service executives are busy on other calls. Please wait. Your call is precious to us. (PAUSE) or (MUSIC)...

...All our customer service executives are busy on other calls. Please wait. Your call is precious to us. (PAUSE) or (MUSIC)...

EXECUTIVE - Hello, this is (BEEP) here. How can I help you?

ME - My name is Sanjeev Hariharan and I have called up w.r.t my mobile number 98XXX-XXXXX

EXECUTIVE - Kindly mention your mobile number.

ME - (again) 9 8 X X X - X X X X X.  My name is Sanjeev Hariharan and this number is registered in the name of (BEEEEEEEEEEP)

EXECUTIVE - May I know your name please.

ME - HELLOOOOOO...are you even listening to what I am saying...I already said that - THE NUMBER IS ------, MY NAME IS ------ AND THE NUMBER IS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF ------

EXECUTIVE - (sounding very cool)...Thank you for the information Sir. How can I help you?

ME - (exhausted already)...I need to get my number deactivated as I am holding 2 mobile numbers.

EXECUTIVE - For this, may I know the name of the company and the billing address please?

ME - (ready to get hanged myself or kill somebody)...Ma'am...are you deaf or is it that my voice is not reaching you or maybe your service is getting disrupted while I talk...what is it with you?

EXECUTIVE - The company and the billing address please?

ME - aaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...okay lets start again...THE NUMBER IS ------, MY NAME IS ------ AND THE NUMBER IS REGISTERED IN THE NAME OF ------

EXECUTIVE - Thank you for the information Sir. How can I help you? 


EXECUTIVE - Sorry Sir. For that please dial 12.... Is there anything else that I may help you with Sir. Sir...Sir...are you there Sir

How many times in your lifetime have you experienced a phone call with a preposterous monster (no gender bias out here!) at the other end, which though hears your voice, your feelings, emotions, problems, et al acts completely ignorant to the fact that you are desperately hanging on for dear life at the other? Many I am sure.

In an era of globalization and economic liberalization, we are all prisoners of our own fate whereby we need to face such humongous challenges in our daily lives of dealing with mechanically trained artifacts called 'Customer Service'.

Whoever said Customer is King must have been living in a fool's paradise or must have been a Marketeer getting some psychological treatment or more factually must be from India. This is a land of surprises, flip-flops, twisted stories, unforeseen challenges which all end up as a severe 'bolt from the blues' for the distraught kings. Well, then, I am not here to talk about Marketing or Customer Service or Sales Pitches...what I am here to talk about is something more contemporary, more with the zeit-geist - yes indeed...Off-shoring or Outsourcing as we all know it. But more, I am going to stick with the Call Centre concept of Outsourcing or B P O, as we call it. I hope thats the correct terminology, if not...bhavnaon ko samjho

More recently, the first black president of the US of A announced a bill which aimed at protecting jobs in the US of A for the Americans - how? By imposing taxes on companies which outsource their jobs to India. This may be a good strategy, but only in the short-term. In the long run, companies needing to outsource such skills & services to India can surely find a via-media approach, which is anyway rampant in practice even today. Obama wont have a clue if its a Czech, Austrian, Australian (that is unlikely though!) or an Indian servicing his country. Now thats besides the point that I want to talk about and at the most, I don't care, at least for now.

What I care about though, is that with all these outsourcing of so-called American jobs to India or more specifically Indian' the serious drop in service levels of call-centres locally. The response and the service of most (99.999999%) of the companies offering such services is wretched, pitiful and deplorable. I am assuming like in most goods and commodities that are exported from our motherland, even in services, the better (if not the best) ones service the western world and the woeful ones remain behind. In fact the woeful ones are so pathetic, that even their English language is at times distressing to hear.

I am amazed that a country, which someone more recently in their book call the 'Super Power' or the emerging nation of the next century is not even attempting to address, leave alone improving the standards of service to customers. I am not even talking about the ones you face in person at the numerous Bazaars & Loons..thats a altogether different breed and would require a separate discussion. Why have the standards of call centers dropping or should i say stooping to such low levels? Why are companies which rely on them as front-end ops not even attempt at improving them? Why are companies indifferent to the needs and concerns of customers facing these specimens? Why? Why?

My perspective on the issue is as follows -
1. There is large and ever-growing need need of such a breed globally.
2. Companies feel that the global demand is more crucial to meet than the discerning Indian consumers.
3. There is a shortage in terms of the breed community which is able and effective to handle such services probably due to
- low salary & perks
- uninteresting job profile & career growth opportunities and alternatives
- family, societal & peer pressures - such jobs are being looked at as cheap & identifiable with those who are 'Losers'...
4.  Companies not interested in or not able to spend time, money and effort in training & developing them

But, whatever be the reason/s, it is imperative that the outcome of this is appalling and least for the end consumer who has to hear the music - literally speaking at times.

What could be the solution? One and something which is evident is addressing the above (read: my perspective), but second, which I term as more interesting and 'killing 2 birds with 1 stone' types (PETA - pls excuse; no harm intended) is -


Ok, ok, ok....I know what you guys are thinking - this guy is nits and he has no understanding of global economic scenarios or cultural concepts or blah blah blah...NOOooo...thats not the case!

I know the Americans come at a higher price...i mean...they just charge higher
I know that they would consider such an offer almost displacing their social standing, even if some of them were the SEC D types in comparison to India
I know the Americans consider sitting in a call center - cheap, unimaginative, unskilled kinda job, but then somebody's gonna do it dude...if its not India, who?

Listen, here's an opportunity for Obama to sit across 2 tables -
1 - with Indian call center companies tellin' 'em to absorb American dropouts / jobless
2 - telling his countrymen to engage and be in sync with the Third World (No, i don't say that either...its been coined by someone else)

I seriously think that the solution/s to the above growing and growth impeding crisis is this - just get the Americans to do what you have been doing to 'em. I am sure they will be better and more interesting to hear when you call helplines - and anyways if you dont understand what the matter - you anyways don't even now. At least your dicussion with Christene, Maria, John, Sharon, Angelina, Brad, Chris, et al would be more inetresting than Sangeeta, Aslam, Tabassum, Meghna, Sundar, Shruti and the likes.

All it takes is Manmohan or Krishna to make a call and say

Hello Obama - May We Help You?

No comments:

Post a Comment