Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A sad opportunity

This is a real incident and if you can identify with the people and circumstances in the following text, it is NOT a coincident.

Another cab ride. This time I am sharing the cab with 3 other people. They belong to the new generation of workers in India – the BPO employees. Teenagers, good looking (Delhi seems to have plenty of this variety), big-mouths, latest model cell phones, junk jewellery, tinted and spiked hair, independent-and-loving-it kinds.

Thankfully this time I was a silent listener. Though it was entertaining in the beginning, it was depressing to listen to the entire episode and find out the reason for this conversation!

The below text is an approximate reproduction of a cell phone conversation I overheard during the cab ride back home. Let’s call him LM1 for Loud Mouth1.

Hello? Reliance customer care?

Yeah, I bloody well want your help dude.

I got a f****** bill today morning and you seem to have charged me for calls I won’t even dream of making. There are two calls to Texas, 3 to New York and 5 to God-knows-what’s-that-place.

You want more details? Yeah my f****** number is 98719xxxxx and my name is Loud Mouth1.

Yeah that’s right. Look up your frigging records.

Yeah I will wait. But you better put on some nice music.

Looks at his friends LM2 and LM3 in the cab and gives them a thumbs up sign.

Hey what’s taking you so damn long? By the time you get back I think I would have got a new bill.

Don’t sorry-sir-me you b**b and tell me what’s the f****** problem.

You don’t know? What kind of a customer care executive are you?

You earn 15000 per month don’t you? And still you don’t know what to do?

Come on……speak out. Cat got your tongue? Say something. What’s your salary?
Confidential information my a**

You know what, I am going to complain about you to your team leader and your manager. Transfer the call to them, bimbo.

Makes faces to let LM2 and LM3 know that the guy on the other side is totally freaked out now.

You can’t? What kind of a call center is this? Where is your office? Gurgaon? Noida? Where?

Oh even that is confidential information huh?

Oh well then what do you plan to do about my problem?

You don’t have enough data? What more do you want dude?

You want me to send you a mail with my details and the problem? Tell me your mail address. Are you allowed to check mails on your operations floor?

Then how will you help me?

You need more time?

What do you think? I have nothing better to do? This is it. I need to talk to your Team leader.

Oh you can’t transfer the call. Okie then gimme his mobile number

He’s busy? That’s okie, I’ll call him after sometime. Now gimme the number NOW.

98-7-1-6-2-3-5-4-3? Okie dumb-box. Just wait and see what I am gonna do. You can kiss your job goodbye.

Hey one more thing, there should be some email in which I can register a complaint about your service?

Yeah. Tell me that mail address and also your team leader’s address.

Takes down the mail addresses and signals a victory sign to LM2 and LM3 who are equally excited.

Okie a**hole. Just wait and see what happens. Hope you have a really stinky day.

Goodbye sweetheart.

I was wondering why LM1 was so rude to the customer care executive. I expected that ideally LM1 should have been sympathetic to the dude at the other end cause they both do the same kind of work.

But later I learnt from LM3 that LM1 had got a ‘ripe’ call that day from a firangi who used all sorts of ‘ripe’ words at him. So what I witnessed was just ‘normal’ stuff that they do to relieve their tension.

It’s not very difficult to understand the mindset of a call center employee, especially when you see the dynamics unfolding right in front of your eyes(or ears.....whatever!)

- You have a neat call center job.

- You work night shifts.

- Like the latest BPO ad shows you land up at home early morning when your newly wed is just about to wake up in time for breakfast. I wonder what the ad is trying to say? "Scared of spending the nights with your spouse? Come join our BPO."

- You get screamed at by some irate customers who get even more agitated when they find out that you work in an outsourced call center and just your luck this person’s ex-girlfriend’s cousin got laid-off because of people like you.

- You get screamed at by your boss cause your ‘quality’ of work is not good enough since customers scream at you. Isn’t that a vicious circle?

- You get screamed at by your wife and kids (if you ever manage to have them at all, considering the problems you have with your spouse) who gets to see only a very sleepy and irritated person who takes out all the screaming tension on them.

- You realise after a couple of years that there’s only so much you can grow and earn doing the kind of work you do and only a very small percent of the entire janta gets promoted.

- Peer pressure hurts when you see that your other friends have very satisfying jobs and happy family lives.

Let’s not even talk about the health problems.

So many complications!

Is an 18 year old ready to take the tensions that tags along with the good salary package of a BPO job?

Keeping in mind the present growth rate and attrition levels of the BPO industry, within 10 years there would about 12 million people who have either worked or are working in this industry.

What a goldmine for psychiatrists and marriage counsellors and divorce lawyers in India!


silverine said...

This kind of behaviour is not typical to BPO employees. This is typical North Indian behavior. We have BPO guys here in B'lore too, but thy don't behave like this. This is how most Northies behave with the guy at the other end.I don't mean to sound Xenophobic but I think most people will agree with me.

Arun said...

Welcome to the New India.
but that is still better than remaining jobless right??correct me if i am wrong here...

ESElliot said...

18, younger or older, people in India, atleast those who are still proud of it are the most hospitable people in the entire way. Even so, there are the crummy brats who think the world of themselves just because they got a job in another country. Having been born in India and as a silent observer of the changing trends here, I think our Loud Mouth friends deserve better names like, "Arrogant-inconsiderate-insolent-son-of-a-you-know-who". People like them, though not so common or as much of these spineless potatoes hiding behind thier jobs, are much deservant of sympathy. Surely no person deserves to put up with this nonsense. If chances be persent I would suggest that this customer care executive tries and sues this guy for harrasment and nuissance charges.

Amit said...

First of all let me say this...No offence meant but please do not bring north India and South India like this out. No behaviour is typical to some region. Puhleaase!

Is it really necessary to give back what u get! Earlier cutlure and values was something ppl used to think about when India was thought of...Now BPO is something ppl think of when you talk of India cuz everyone knows there is no Indian culture and values left in India or I shall say urban India. Its just a huge Question...
BPO - Boon or Bane?

Amit said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
indiagenie said...

Silverine : I have worked in a BPO in Mumbai and have interacted with BPO employees in delhi, bangalore, pune, chennai and hyderabad in the course of my work and let me assure you there is no such divide as the one you claim as far as this kind of juvenile behavior is concerned. In all these cities there IS a small section of ppl who bring a bad name to the profession. If you need evidence, just head on to the BPO block in kodihalli in bangalore (DELL, IBM among others) and check out the behavior of the junta in the shops and other hangouts in the region.

ESElliot: Reliance cust care ppl better not sue anyone for anything. their service IS the absolute pits ;-)

Amit: No two ways about it. BPO IS a boon for the jobless masses. the problem is we have been treating it like a stop-gap arrangement, a a pocket money enhancer, until u get into a more serious job. This tendency, not only evident in parents and peers, is seeped in most of the employees themselves. No wonder they do not attempt to be give this job the seriousness it deserves. After all, anything that pays you as well must be respected.

Priya: "There is only so much you can grow "?
From associate (entry level) to AVP in 6 years is only so much ?
There are countless instances of phenomenal growth in the BPO industry, aided in no small part by the fact that it is still a nascent industry and is growing at astronomical rates.
The reason why so many ppl seem to be cribbing is that though there are thousands of english speaking people in the country, there are very,very few ppl among them who have the maturity, skills necessary to be promoted to levels where they can handle client facing positions. I have personally witnessed this phenomenon and can attest to the fact that the best BPO agent (in terms of his/her performance on the ops floor) is not necessarily good enough to be promoted.
What is often missed out that the BPO industry, just like any other service industry, needs the same kind of ppl in higher levels of the corporate heirarchy.
It is easier to get those kind of people from the lower ranks in any other industry, say software, because the lower ranks have people with stable and sound educations, mostly engineers, and they take their jobs and careers seriously.
While, in a BPO, the typical employee, increasingly not even a graduate yet, does not take his job seriously and does not even try to think from the higher level perspective, something thats imperative for anyone in any industry to be promoted.
My first boss in WSM told me during my initiation -
"To get to a position, think from the perspective of the person in that position, otherwise all your good work in your present position will be waste"

The question is,
How many of the existing BPO employees are mature enough to be able to do it?

indiagenie said...

and btw, dont reliance nos. start with 93xxx ?


Girl With Big Eyes said...

I am not sure whether it's just a Northie thing. Maybe, maybe not. But from my personal experiences I have seen that average Northies tend to very helpful but a little more aggressive than the average Southies.

Well if that's the option then yes. But then that's not the point I was driving at.

Fitting name, I should say!

BPO is definitely not bane. I have seen middle aged people and retired people working in day shifts and semi-night shifts. I guess for most of them it's just a way to kill boredom and to earn some quick money. For some teens BPO outfits are like EPM (Easy Pocket Money) generators - some come to make just enough money to buy that cell phone or music system.
How can it be bane if it improves the general lifestyle of 12 million people in 10 years and adds a little bit to the GDP too. But yeah, conditions apply.

Phew! - that maybe the longest comment in my blog! (except maybe this comment of mine)

I think this 'stop-gap arrangement attitude' you are talking about is good in a way. It's true that there are people who have grown quickly to reach even the AVP levels. But like you pointed out, how many can become AVPs? Even if 50% of the workforce gets into a call centre with the intention of making a lifelong career there, very few would make it to the top due to the sheer numbers. So in a way it's good that only a selected few are focused and rise to become managers and the aam agent junta leave the industry after a couple of years for higher education or for some other field of work.

And lastly, don’t read too much in between the numbers :)
They are just some random number of digits that my fingers at that moment.

Amit said...

GWBE: Is it not the case that we are just looking at the positive sides of one thing without even wondering about the other side of the coin. Well If you have n you still feel the same, then thats it...BPO is boon though from your perspective. Well I am not saying here it is bane from my perspective...Its just that I have read something disastrous about BPOs....

virdi said...

hey junta.... there is nothing like north india or south india in the BPO thing there is India and US in the BPO thing which is mroe important. one of my friends in Florida calls his CreditCard guys and the call is transfered to "Hi you are talking to Sid, how can i help you?" My friend " Hey you sound Indian, where are u? In Bangalore?" Sid: "Yes sir This is Sidharth, from Bangalore. How can I help you?" My friend freaks out and says " Arre yaar main thoda late ho gaya bil pay karne ke liye can you take care of this?? Kuch karo yaar" Siddharth "dont worry sir main hoon na, aap kahan se ho? wow from Delhi? What are you doing in US? MS in Texas? Thats cool. how is the weather?" and lots of bakwas and say "dont worry no chinta" Now tell me we screwed an american bank of its money or not? hehehehe.... its fun working for BPO... no idiots i dont work for a BPO...
well those who need jobs desparately work for BPO and callcenters and things like that... those who get other coding jobs work for companies like TCS or Infosys or blah blah blah... those who are studds in their verticals land up in McKinsey and Lehman brothers... and all these companies ultimately work for some company in US... TCS doing project for American Express or Bank of America and callcenter guys answering calls for the customers of these banks...
anyway its money.. over and out.. this discussion can go for 7 pages...

Anonymous said...

Silverline I dont thing we should categorise what is being written is can hold true for anyone going through the similar situatiom...

A said...

dunno abt ur summers, but ur cab rides surely seems like a hell lot of fun :D....kaash my summers wud have been so 'interesting'

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Well A,

Be careful what you wish for. You may actually get it.


Hafez said...

Why we need "Social Shorthand".
Observing one person's traits and categorise him/her to a particular
May be some wise people can do that.
Any way I am not that wise to find people's ethnicity from the way they act

GWBE "But from my personal experiences I have seen that average Northies tend to very helpful but a little more aggressive than the average Southies"

May be She is talking about the urbanised people.
Even Southies brought up in northern "CITIES" are no different
Mals brought up in Gulf countries are no different.
I don't think these Observations got anything to do with their ethnicity.
All my Northie friends are Awesome

"There's somethin' wrong with the world today
I don't know what it is
Something's wrong with our eyes

We're seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain't His
It sure ain't no surprise

We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge
We're livin' on the edge

There's somethin' wrong with the world today
The light bulb's gettin' dim
There's meltdown in the sky

If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister you're a better man that I

We're livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' on the edge
You can't stop yourself from fallin'
Livin' on the edge

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complication - aggravation
Is getting to you

If chicken little tells you that the sky is fallin'
Even if it wasn't would you still come crawlin'
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again & again & again & again & again"


Hey Nice Post Priya
Keep Rocking !!!
Let's talk, listen,rock with out Prejudice