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05-22-2011, 09:14 AM   #1
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Indian Call Centers Hire in U.S.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/as-indian-companies-grow-in-the-us-ou...G_story_4.html

Extract:

"Capuana, a stocky man who prefers jeans and wears his hair long, uses a motivational-speaker’s approach to get workers to show up on time and do their best. “You really need to leave everything you have on that phone call,” he says, walking amid the 3-foot-by-4-foot cubicles with signs that read “Perfect Service” and “One Member at a Time.”

He pins pictures of the top 12 performers on a “Circle of Leaders” bulletin board each quarter. They receive free movie tickets, have greater dress-down privileges and eat free lunch. The practice has been adopted by Aegis on a corporate-wide level, he says.

Many Aegis employees at the site are not very aware that they work for an Indian company. The Dallas headquarters, though, celebrates India’s independence on Aug. 15. And the call center workers have made music videos for each other: The Indian office performed a Bollywood song, and workers at the U.S. office danced to the Black Eyed Peas.

But with all its globalism, Aegis also has its culture clashes. Some managers from India have a hard time understanding what motivates U.S. workers and why they are less-educated than their Indian peers. One Indian-born manager said he thinks that the U.S. standard of living has spoiled Americans and that they take less pride in their work. In other words, he says, they are lazy.
The India executives are also puzzled by the appeal of dress-down practices. “We don’t do that” in India, says Ramya Devi Ramachandran, 27, a former administrative assistant at the lower Manhattan office who worked for Aegis in India before moving to New York.

Essar and Aegis, however, want to step up the cross-sharing this year, shuffling dozens of U.S. Aegis employees to Goa and Bangalore in India to help handle large U.S. government contracts. Aegis executives say the cross-continent exchange will help India’s call centers keep up during peak Medicare enrollment season and aid the company’s cross-cultural efforts.
A few employees from the lower Manhattan call center are applying for the temporary transfer. “I’ve never been to India,” said Keith Swindell, 39, a trainer. “I’d enjoy traveling and getting international experience.”

Glader is a journalist based in New York."

"Times they are a changing.........."

05-22-2011, 10:04 AM   #2
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I think with call-center jobs, the *real* thing that made them less viable wasn't about wages, so much as attrition: a lot of people I've known used to rely on that sort of thing, tech support, marketing, etc: the simple fact was, they just kept exerting more and more controls on the poor workers: kind of soul-deadening as it was, but the 'calling scripts' kept getting more and more restrictive: calling strangers who mostly hang up is one thing, ...having to read the exact same words over and over again like some machine really just was more than a lot of people could take.

Corporate mentality, really: hire bright and sociable people, then set lower and middle management against them with respect to corporate, ...the 'solution' being imposing more and more control and mindless repetition. Ate itself. The fact is, bright and sociable people having to annoy folks for a living while not even interacting or thinking really just takes its toll, consequently, they spent as much on turnover and trying to 'motivate' underpaid people into cheerful machines as actually doing business. How to turn a room full of generally-pretty smart people into a money-losing machine, over and over.
05-23-2011, 04:33 AM   #3
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Call Centers were outsourced to India and other similar countries because of COST alone. It had nothing to do with any more educated Indian workers or even lazy American workers. Call Centers are simply much cheaper to staff over there than they are here.

Unfortunately (for them), the companies who outsourced are finding that customer satisfaction has plummeted and people are justifiably furious about having to describe technical or complicated issues to people who have accents thicker than molasses in winter. Troubleshooting is tough enough without having to ask the technician to speak more slowly or clearly in order to understand what they want you to do.

So now, the worm seems to be turning. I welcome the news in the OP that the centers are hiring native english speakers right back here in the U.S. However, it won't be long before the costs from companies like Aegis go back up (due to the cost of American labor) and they, and similar Indian companies, will be swept aside as American companies decide to cut out the increasingly over-expensive middle-man and return to providing their own services.

Mike
05-23-2011, 07:15 AM   #4
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I talked to a call center the other day. The person I was talking to was in South Carolina.
He may as well have been speaking Farsi for all that I could understand him.

05-23-2011, 07:22 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
I talked to a call center the other day. The person I was talking to was in South Carolina.
He may as well have been speaking Farsi for all that I could understand him.
Good point... So maybe the company you called would do better service to their Canadian customers if they routed their calls to someone more linguistically compatible.

I'd be willing to bet that a Indian customer in Delhi doesn't have their calls routed to an Aegis Call Center in Georgia...

Mike

p.s. on a related note, last year when we were vacationing in Maine, I witnessed the most hilarious conversation of my life. Our inn keeper had a very thick northeastern accent and a guest from southeast Tennessee was trying to get information out of him about local things to see and do... I don't think either one of them had a clue what the other was saying...

Last edited by MRRiley; 05-23-2011 at 07:29 AM.
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