Call Center In India - Call Center Industry in India
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Accenture to double India outsourcing staff to 10,000

Recruitment is on full-throttle by multinational firms. Accenture Ltd. announced Wednesday that it is more than doubling its staff in India to 10,000 in December.

The company, based in Bermuda, currently employs 4,300 professionals in India for services such as consulting, system integration and business process outsourcing (BPO) for functions such as human resources management and financial accounting. The company also runs call centers in India. The BPO and call center services are offered both to customers and customers' clients.

According to Martin Cole, Accenture's India facilities are the only company sites as of now to offer voice-based BPO services for its clients. Accenture already has two call center facilities with a third coming up, besides three facilities in Mumbai.

Accenture started operations in India in 1987 with the consulting business and by 2001 it had about 1,000 staff in Mumbai offering consulting and IT services. The BPO services were introduced in April this year, and the call center was started in June this year.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Concerto plans to open call center in India

Some companies are shifting back from India and some newly opening. One of those firms which is planning to open a call center in India is Concerto.

The US-based Concerto Software has firmed up plans to set up its call center services which will be used as a global help desk in India with 70 people in February to provide high-end support to worldwide customers.

Pramod Ratwani, vice president, Asia Pacific and Middle East, Concerto Software Inc said, “ We’ve have zeroed in on two Indian cities, Bangalore and Hyderabad to set up our call centers in, which will provide product and technical support to our global customers".

"Company president James D Foy will announce the setting up of the call center, which will involve significant amount of investment”, he added.

At present, globally, the company has three help desks -- US, London and Singapore -- and when set up, India would be the fourth one.

Even though the Indian call center would take up new assignments, there is expected to be some job-shifts from its Boston based help desks to India resulting in 'job losses', he said.

Concerto, which makes software for call centers, itself has a small call center operation in Mumbai with 30 people. This center, however, gives Tier-I support to global companies by handling the basic queries.

The scene for setting up of call centers in India just keeps getting better, with more and more multinationals entrusting India with some of their major operations.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Call centers in India to have a tough time

People have starting to register themselves in the 'Do not call' list. And this in turn is giving the call center workers a hard time. Restrictions have made the consumers happier, but surprisingly the call centers workers are adjusting better to the situation than anticipated. Some of the consumers say that after registering the calls from the call centers have reduced from three a day to two in a week

Although industry representatives believe cuts are on the way, call-center operations have picked up new clients exempt from the Federal Trade Commission's sweeping rules, targeted businesses instead of consumers or switched to people who have existing relationships with their clients.

More than 50,000 complaints nationwide have been filed against call center executives, accused of calling numbers on the list. Which is still far less than 1 percent of the more than 50 million consumers, including 1.2 million in Arizona, who signed up for the 'Do Not Call' Registry as of mid-September.

Call centers are battling the rules in court and say that they are complying with the new regulations and are searching for ways to replace lost business. Although Call centers and their clients may be switching strategies, but it, ultimately, may not be enough to stop companies from cutting telemarketing services.

Some in the industry believe the real impact from the 'Do Not Call' rules will hit next year but note that it may be difficult to separate the rules' effect from the trend to move some call-center jobs to countries like India and the Philippines.

Call center executives are trying hard to comply with the rules because they know that if they call the people on the 'Do not call' list they will be fined huge sums of money.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Lavish spread of call centers in India

Lately there have been lots of call centers brewing up in India. Many multinationals have opened up their call centers to serve their worldwide clients. One of the reasons why call centers have been opened in India by multinationals is, India is a low-cost destination, where one can easily find cheap labor. Another reason for India being favored is its huge, unlimited English speaking populace, which is in abundance.

India is not the only one, which is favored for opening of call centers; there are countries, which are in the race. Countries like China, Malaysia, and Philippines etc all are strong contenders for being an outsourcing hub. What these call center market in India has done is it has created tremendous opportunities for employment for the youth. The pay package is good, and so people don’t mind the odd working hours. At the moment India is hot, but other English speaking nations are also catching up, and that’s one thing call center operators in India should keep in mind .

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Dell Affirms Commitment to its call centers in India

As everybody is aware, Dell did open its call centers in India to serve its clients in the U.S. But recent complaints about customer service calls, has forced Dell Computer in bringing some of its overseas business customer service back to the U.S., but it stressed that it remains committed to its call centers in India.
'Dell would be moving only some of its business customer service calls from its technical support center in Bangalore, India to facilities in the U.S. and it is definitely not moving all of its call centers out of India ', Mr.Barry French, director of public affairs for Dell Computer, said. "We remain committed to India and we constantly make changes to optimize our operations in order to give customers the best possible experience," French added.
The shift comes as the spread of IT jobs to overseas markets, along with many call center functions starts concerning lawmakers and IT workers. And this emerging backlash in the U.S. against outsourcing to India is a "cause of concern."
While setting up call centers and outsourcing operations offshore in countries like India can save companies in labor costs, sometimes language problems and other training issues can complicate the level of offshore customer service.
It is unclear exactly how much money Dell has saved by setting up customer call centers in India, and other countries around the world. But the company's decision to bring some of its call center operations for its business customers back to the United States, points to the importance the company assigns its enterprise strategy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Call centers are changing identities

Call center executives are told to watch endless episodes of ‘Friends’, ‘Ally Mcbeal’, and what not, so that they could mimic an acceptable American accent. Call centers are in fact changing complete identities of the executives. Once on the phone, Mohan becomes ‘Mac’, Sameer becomes ‘Sam’ and ‘Savitri’ becomes ‘Sally’ and so on. They are told to adopt American accents and say that they are calling from American cities to put their customers are easy.
Their training includes a smattering of U.S. history and geography, along with speech therapy so that they will sound "American." Some call centers are adorned with American flags to give a cultural feel to the place. Along the way, these employees are exposed to a way of life that can come into direct conflict with their conservative values and, sometimes, their sanity.
Indian call centers have sprung up nationwide in the last few years, as large American firms like American Express and General Electric have sought out the country's inexpensive, highly educated, English-speaking labor force. After sometime, these fake identities become a part of their lives and they start beleiveing that they are real Americans and sometimes start suffering from multiple personality disorders.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

India plans call center for farmers

It might seem a bit funny, but it’s true. The Indian government is planning a call center, for guess whom, ‘ Indian farmers’. This is keeping in mind that it will help them obtain all the relevant information, Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday. ‘ A call center scheme is pretty much on for the farmers, where in they will be able to get all the agriculture related information’ Singh said. This facility (call center) will be provided free of cost to the farmers and should be functional by the end of next month.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Indian outsourcing draws telephonic backlash

First it were protests, then ‘hate mails’ and now bugged up workers are using the telephone to vent out their anger over the transfer of jobs to low-cost destinations such as India. Some of them had already started receiving abusive e-mails on outsourcing posted on their websites, but now it has spilled onto telephones.
As a result the call-center workers have started reporting abusive calls, where in the callers blame them for lost opportunities and insist on speaking to U.S. based workers only.

One Hyderabad call center manager said that now calls have started to become more racist and sexist. However, none of the executives want to go on record because they fear they might loose their clients, due to bad publicity. Another Gurgaon call center executive testified to the trend of abusive calls, but said that it does not have much impact on the business.

When asked the question that how do they manage to deal with such abusive calls, all the center managers told that, in this kind of situation, they can’t do much more then to tell their staff to remain calm and polite.

As a result of wide media coverage on the outsourcing issue, workers in U.S. and Europe are starting to come out strongly with their displeasure on seeing their jobs going to countries like India and China. India is hot at the moment , but if they are faced with more and more of such problems they might have to find a solid way of dealing with such issues.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

US Firms continue outsourcing despite protests.

Although there are lots of protests against outsourcing, a huge percentage of fortune 500 companies still continue to outsource their operations overseas. Countries like India offer cheap and steady labor workforce, which helps companies to save up to around 70% of costs, according to US analysts.

For example take the case of financial companies. Although a potent method for them to increase the flow of revenue is cross selling and up selling, outsourcing by the way is one of the best methods to save costs, according to business intelligence firm, Cutting Edge Information.

It said one of the very good examples of a financial institution that has done this is, Citigroup. It has successfully cut its call center labor costs by about 50%, since it began outsourcing its call center operations. Even though higher telecommunications expenses and an increase in call volume eat up the savings, the company benefits from a more skilled work force in its Indian call centers.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Call Centers in India

The big boom in outsourcing has tremendously boosted the Indian Economy. More and more multinationals are making their way towards India in an effort to reduce costs. Although on one hand it has increased the opportunity for employment In India by almost ten fold, the populace in the west is crying foul. The constant flow of work to India is giving rise to unemployment in the west. This has understandably become a hot topic for discussion for some governments.

Right from data entry to tax returns, medical transcription to development services -- multinational companies are transferring their back office processes to external service providers. And India has been in the hot seat at gobbling these lucrative opportunities as fast as they could.

India offers a bouquet of benefits to the multinationals to come pouring down to India. These include, first and foremost, a 24*7, work culture, huge pool of skilled and literate professionals, work quality, a cost cutting of around 60-70 %, and to top it all, even the government has provided 100 percent tax exemption on foreign direct investment in IT-enabled services. These factors make it a strong contender in lapping up other such openings, and overshadowing other Asian outsourcing destinations, such as the Philippines and China.

“There is going to be no stopping of this trend, because of the simple reason that today the technology and know-how we have developed will certainly render those services much more efficiently and economically," said Mahendra K Sanghi, alternate president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.

The great news though is that, this sector is supposedly going to be earning around US$17 billion a year from outsourced jobs, according to the country's IT monitoring body, the National Association of Software and Service Companies. Moreover India is expected to have 6,000 call centers by 2008, compared to around 40 in 1999. – According to CAN.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Philippines' booming call-center business

India is Philippines' chief competitor in attracting call-center business. However the government of Philippines is of the view that the country has advantages on many fronts. Cultural affinity with the United States being the first advantage the second advantage is that labor in Philippines is relatively cheap and is equipped with modern telecommunications infrastructure. Another major difference is that Filipinos speak Americanized English as a second language, whereas the Indians speak the Queen's English.

Philippines has a Call CenterAcademy that focuses on teaching English proficiency, as well as American culture, call-center technology and sales, telemarketing and customer-service skills.

Unemployment is rising in the Philippines; it is 12.7 percent in July, which is up from 11.2 percent the previous year. Thus though the call centers are coming up in Philippines, the recruitment process is not easy to pass. Only selective candidates who are educated in English medium high school and graduate with a good American English Fluency are selected after conducting verbal and non-verbal English Grammar tests.

Jack Tucson, a founder and director of Ambergris (a Call Center), said that the company has been hiring about 150 to 200 people per month — only about 5 percent to 10 percent of the applicant pool in a country that produces about 385,000 college graduates a year.
Paula Angela Valladolid, training director of a Call Center in Philippines, said the company doesn't look specifically for an American accent but just an accent that is understandable to an American customer.

"It's been termed as a neutral accent," she said.

More important, she said, is understanding American culture to get a perspective on customers' needs and the types of responses they require.

Employees in these Call Centers are given USA Today and the most recent Texas travel guide to read between calls. They watch TV news from a Texas network during breaks in case conversation with a customer veers to current events.

Sunday, December 14, 2003
India an electronic housekeeper of the world: Birla

DUBAI : Strides made in the information technology sector has enabled India to emerge as the world's "electronic housekeeper" and good economic performance has put the nation firmly on the path of growth, the doyen of Indian industry K K Birla has said.

"We have become the electronic housekeeper of the world and with call centres moving to India at a large scale it is day even at night in India ," Birla, who attributed the phenomenon partly to the country's strength in English, said.

Birla, who is a member of the consultative committee for the ministry of finance said the Indian economy was doing extremely well buoyed by a good monsoon and inflation was under control.

Referring to the change in India 's profile overseas, Birla said Indian companies have now made a mark globally. "Many of our companies are in Fortune 500 list and international consumer brands have set up shop in India ".

Birla was addressing Indian businessmen at a function over the weekend organised by the India Knowledge Centre (IKC) here. The IKC is trying to bring top educational institutions like IIT, IIM and others to the Gulf to be partners with the Arab world in higher learning and technology.

The Birla Institute of Technology, of which he is the chairman, also has a campus here.

The first batch of 54 engineering graduates from BITS Dubai , which has a total of 420 students now, will pass out next year. BITS Pilani has a campus in Manama , Bahrain also.

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Veritas to double R&D in India

PUNE: Veritas Software Corporation plans to increase its R&D investment in India by more than 50 percent over the next year. The company has also established a tech support center and call center support operations in Pune.

Veritas Software executive VP of products and operations Mark Bregmen, who was in Pune for the Inventor and Awards, said that the company had invested around $ nine million in the support center operations. "The numbers have gone up from 20 to 70 people. We hope to take it over 170 by next year," he said.

Veritas established R&D facilities in India 11 years ago in Pune, with more than 500 engineers working on all facets of Veritas product development. The company plans to hire another 300 people over the next 12 months, thereby making it the single largest engineering site in one location for the company.

Bregmen said that the Pune team was pretty active on the R&D front with more than 40 percent of all patent disclosures coming from Pune. "There is a disproportionate focus on IP here," he said, hastening to add that low cost was not the driving factor for expansion plans in the city. Instead it was access to talent and ability to hire besides expertise in product development that had encouraged the company to grow the team in Pune, he explained.

This year around 60 development engineers from Pune were chosen for the awards, forcing the company to shift the award ceremony in the city rather than the usual practice of holding it in the US. Referring to the plans for the tech support center, Veritas Software senior director and head of Indian engineering Radha Shelat said that housing this with the R&D team offered direct customer feedback, translating into a good mechanism for improving the products.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
Aviva to move 2,350 UK jobs to India

LONDON: Britain's biggest insurer, Aviva Plc, has revealed it would move about 2,350 UK jobs to India, the latest move by the UK's financial services industry to export jobs to low-cost countries.

Aviva said it would shift about 350 UK call-center jobs and 2,000 in processing, administration and information technology. It added it would consider hiring more people next year in India, where outsourcing has become an engine of export growth.

Aviva, rival insurer Prudential Plc and major UK banks such as Lloyds TSB Group Plc are hiring in India where they can recruit highly educated workers at a fraction of the cost at home. Britain's biggest bank, HSBC Holdings Plc, said that in October it would move 4,000 UK jobs to low-cost countries.

"We are operating in an increasingly competitive environment," Aviva Chief Executive Richard Harvey said in the statement. "Staff will have the best possible opportunity to find other roles within our group."

Aviva informed at least 80 percent of the UK job cuts would be made without compulsory redundancies, though it did not rule them out. It is setting aside 1.5 million pounds ($2.6 million) to give career advice and retraining to staff affected.

Aviva plans to hire a total of about 2,500 workers in India next year, bringing the number of staff there to 3,700, the company said. Aviva employs 59,000 people, including about 33,000 in Britain.

Monday, December 01, 2003
Dell Shows How Not to Offshore
The widely-publicized decision by computer giant Dell to repatriate its corporate customer tech support from India to the US may be a textbook example of how not to apply offshoring as a management strategy., citing an Associated Press story reported Tuesday. Nov.25 that corporate owners of Dell's OptiFlex desktops and Latitude laptops will no longer be serviced from the maker's Bangalore, India call center. Instead their contacts will be answered by agents in Idaho, Tennessee and Texas call centers.

"Customers weren't satisfied with the level of support they were receiving, so we're moving some calls around to make sure they don't feel that way anymore," Dell spokesman Jon Weisblatt told the AP. He would not discuss the nature of the dissatisfaction with the call center in Bangalore.

But Suresh Gupta, founder of offshore consultancy, The Paaras Group (Harrison, NY) and a leading authority and speaker on offshoring told CommWeb that Dell apparently did not develop a well thought out contact center strategy.

"This is a classical case of viewing offshoring purely as a cost-cutting move instead of as a part of a broad-based global sourcing strategy," says Gupta.

Among the errors: Best Practice firms don't use offshore centers for handling premium customer contacts.

AP/CNN reported that corporate customers account for about 85% of Dell's business, with only 15% coming from the consumer market.

Also, Dell may have trained the agents in speaking in less accented English but apparently failed to recognize the cultural nuances, says Gupta.

AP/CNN reported that some U.S. customers have complained that the Indian support reps are difficult to communicate with because of thick accents and scripted responses.

An investment banking client mentioned to Gupta recently that in India you would think that Indians speak English but often the words they utter have different meanings.

Dell's cost-cutting penchant may hurt it at home. Dell's customer contacts coming back to the US raises the possibility of a new call center to handle them.

But sources acquainted with Dell's site selection told CommWeb that the firm reportedly drives extremely hard bargains, including demanding incentives to the point where some communities may be lukewarm about seeking a Dell call center.

Calls from some home PC owners will continue to be handled by Bangalore center, reports AP/CNN. Spokesperson Weisblatt said Dell has no plans to scale back the operation there.

But Dell is also expanding one of its US call centers. The Roseburg, OR News-Review reported Nov. 23 that the computer maker is creating 9,600 square feet of additional work space is within the 40,000-square-foot facility. Dell opened the call center, housed in a former supermarket, in September 2002.

Rob McIntosh, Dell's Roseburg site leader told the newspaper that the call center currently has 392 workers.

Helga Conrad, director of the Umpqua Economic Development Partnership told the paper that the current expansion could increase Dell's employment to 500 by the end of 2004.

The current expansion "is just a continuation of our original plan when we built out the facility," McIntosh said.

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