So much these days is made of the stress and the sweatshop culture of call centres. But there is another side – that of how old business practices based on age and status are being swept aside in favour of a NAMASTE culture where the able can really succeed.
By S.Shridhar Kumar in Bangalore
1730 hrs IST, Bangalore, India.
“Good Morning, Thank you for calling A&B, you are through to Raghav, How may I help you today?”
1830 hrs IST, New Delhi, India.
“Hi, This is Mark Smith calling on behalf of American Express; I would like to discuss an exciting offer we have for you….”
0500 hrs IST, Hyderabad, India.
“Steve, Did you catch up with the NBA playoff on Sunday…”
0630 hrs IST, Pune, India.
“Mr. Spencer, seems like you are facing some tough weather along the coast..”
Little did we ever ponder on the fact that we would ever come across such sublime Western conversations, reflecting on the background of Dal-chawal and Rajma (famous delicacies) of the Indian soil. The principles of NBA Play-offstrategies, the American Stock market, the British weather, or the current London Broadway Opera’s were never the preferred topics of interest for the common Indian. But as ever, technology has its own way of pushing mankind to astonishing scales of adaptability.
It was not long ago that the concept of Business – Across – the – Seas was a distant dream, in fact an impossible feat to imagine. But the technical advancements of the West and the remarkable ideas of technology have rendered us, realistic yet astonishing business transactions. How else would you like to describe “A zappy New York corporate head, seated at 309, Lake St., Penn Yan, NY – 14527 in the busiest of corporate blocks in The Big Apple, calling in to order for a Pizza for lunch, to be answered by an ardent order taker situated at a call centre in New Delhi, India, who ensures that the Pizza is delivered in a remarkable service time, with extreme accuracy to the point that the number of Jalapeños in the Pizza ordered accurate to ensure the customer’s delight”.
That is the advent of technology that has scaled remarkable heights. Seems quite simple, but as the experts would tell you “IT IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS”.
To start with, let’s think about mind sets. It is not an easy job for an Indian to keep pace with the NBA standings, or the British Tabloids simply because his CHAI-BISKOOT (tea & biscuits) and Bollywood (the Indian Hollywood) Masala takes the most out of his appetite. But the attitude is there to break all barriers. Thanks to the Larry Kings and the Oprah Winfrey’s. The West has always been an interest for the subcontinent, but with the advent of Call centres it has generated a very consistent bunch of followers who don’t want to stop with just keeping in line with “The Daily Mail” or “The Guardian” but would go to the extent of checking out the British ads in “Loot”.
There was a period when the Subcontinent, especially India had a vast pool of educated, smart youngsters but with not enough opportunities to utilize their skills. That was a period to be marked in black when the thrust and zeal of confident youngsters were tossed across in vain, with no resources to tap this potential. But thanks to a set of whiz kids from the West, who thought that the NAMASTE (Welcome) culture would help improve the way they did Business. When the floodgates were opened, now it’s a rosy picture of vast opportunities, and healthy competition.
That brings us to the point, of the Overheads we got along with this incredible milestone. For starters, the advent of transitioning business from the West, brought in a wonderful exposure to a strong and healthy Work Culture. No longer, do the deserving need to wait in long black rooms, for success irrespective of calibre and talent as it had been for eternity in the dark loom of the Indian Work culture. On the contrary, the growth of opportunities which groomed in sync with handling Western clients, ensured that they also mimic their work culture and organizational values. So, gone are the dreary memories of smart, intellectual humans knocking on closed doors to exclaim, “ Sir, May I please come in ……….” , just because the one sitting on the other side of the door is older to them, or is a notch higher in the organizational structure. Thanks to the advent of such dynamic Western influences, the doors have opened at last.
The evolution of these capsules of energy, in corporate terms “The Outsource centres” has broken a very stupendous ritual of Indian work culture which was the ancient day light shift system. Men and Women of this vast land were fed on the principles of “WORK ONLY WHEN THE SUN IS UP AND SHINING, because the nights are not meant for working”. However, as a rule of Demography, the West wakes up when the East goes to sleep. So, the Indian Mard (Man in Hindi) and the Bharatiya Nari (the typical Indian woman) have now been exposed to working round the solar clock. In other terms, catapulting the Indian work group to the norms of world business.
The barriers of business across the seas are aplenty. But the important question is do these barriers pose a major threat to the effectiveness of the individual who awakens to these memorable and enchanting phone calls from the West. And sure to say, India has stretched her ways and norms wide enough to welcome this revolution, with the true spirit of the Namaste culture.
If you would ever want to know how effective the origin of outsourcing fundamentals has been in the Indian Market, you do not have to hold a Conference of the top heads of the leading organizations in the market. Rather, walk up to an entry level representative in a call centre, and s/he would explain to you how happy they are talking to the Smith’s and the Spencer’s of Virginia and Florida. The smile on the faces of these mighty warriors would explain the success of Outsourcing on the Indian soil.
S.Shridhar Kumar is currently employed with IBM in their Global Services unit, in Bangalore, India. He has been associated with this industry for about 5 years now & has worked with brands like Convergys & GE. Currently in the role of a Senior Operations Manager and a hotelier by qualification. His experience involves working in different roles in call center operations.