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The Future of the Call Center Industry in India

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What is the first image that comes to mind when the call center profession is mentioned?

Headset-clad 20-something men and women staring intently at their computer screens and talking away endlessly into their microphones, probably parroting the same set of sentences for hours together….

Is everything going well for the call center industry and its workers in India, given the widespread notion of disappointing career growth associated with it? India-based call center operations outsourced from the US and UK are on a steady decline for a number of reasons.

call center India-001

The Roadblocks

Indian accents are a perpetual problem with westerners. Customers are increasingly reporting increased frustration with both unfamiliar and artificial accents of workers handling their queries.

I’ve repeatedly heard stories of call centers taking people round in circles instead of arriving at solutions, leading to intense flare-ups. The weary back office workers are always at the receiving end of abusive outbursts. In spite of being trained to keep their cool, this job can end up being highly stressful and thankless. [Check out the video below for some laughs…which probably has some harsh reality hidden into it]

Adding to the reasons to move operations back home is the dismal picture painted by the US and UK economies over the past few years.

For an increasing number of companies there, employing local people has become a priority over cutting costs to up to one-fifth by outsourcing to India. And India, by the way, is not cheap anymore. The costs of commercial property have been rising exponentially, and starting a call center business based on the outsourcing model isn’t a great idea anymore.

The inflation has been consistently high in India over past few years, and salary increments in double digits have become a norm. And with increased salaries, the low cost advantage of India is increasingly diminishing.

Call center workers have been realizing the serious lifestyle and health problems associated with perpetual night shifts and long stressful hours. Don’t we often get to read reports of increased risks of heart disease in people who treat their nights like days?

During the early 2000’s, such jobs were seen as an extremely easy way to make money. Rs. 10k to Rs. 15k a month for just answering calls? Irresistible right!

Now that the years have flown by, people are more likely to think twice before going ahead with a job that is way too monotonous to match the exciting opportunities that the booming Indian economy has to offer.

Is the Call Center Industry Doomed?

The roadblocks that this industry has hit have already got foreign companies looking for the exit route.

Does that mean the call center industry is approaching its death?

Not quite. Millions of Indians are joining the middle class boom every year, which means that a rising number here are using credit cards and other online services, making it necessary to set up dedicated call centers to look into complaints. The accompanying cultural familiarity and regular shifts will provide the much needed sheen.

Those who are not content with simply answering phone calls and saying a few repetitive sentences can upgrade their skills for better challenges. For example, a series of certifications in remote technical support can open the doors for more adventurous jobs.

What about the experience gained by workers bracing up daily for furious phone conversations? Well, for future jobs, they’ll be skilled in dealing with the most irate customers imaginable!

Would love to hear your views on the future of call center Industry in India…

  1. Akshat sethi says

    I have a suggestion for those who are looking for BPO as a Career there is nothing to worry except at what company are you applying and what are their process, and how many employees are there?

  2. Dheeraj Bajaj says

    some statistics like how many companies have cut or gone back with their operations would have been reasonable to relate authors feeling.

  3. Altaf Rahman says

    Not all Indians fall under one economic class group. For every Indian who thinks these jobs are unviable due to inflation, increase in standard of living, for every Indian who thinks these jobs do not offer job satisfaction, there will be hundred Indians ready to fill the space.
    Also at the same time, companies are also getting conscious of the fact that Indian ops are getting expensive, look to countries with cheaper employee costs.

    1. Naweed says

      Thank you, Altaf, for your views!

      Companies are already shifting their back office operations to countries like the Philippines even though many Indians may still be ready to take up call center work, either as dream jobs or as stepping stones for more challenging work.

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