What is it really like inside an Indian Call Center?

What is it really like inside an Indian Call Center?

During my trips to India, I visited many outsourcing operations. I visited programming houses, call centers, medical transcription companies, and more.

Typically, Indian outsourcing companies will have a bunch of people crammed into very small spaces with small desks. But, the call centers I saw were operating on a larger scale. The programming houses typically had 5-50 people present, while the call centers occupied entire floors of buildings and had room for hundreds of employees.

A Call Center in Mumbai
I was just doing my homework. I was staying at an ashram in Navi Mumbai. I wanted to see a real Indian Call Center. I had a call project to do. 2000 calls. To big for me to do, but too small for them to do. I got off the train in Belapur, or one of the stops near there. It was in 2007 and I don’t remember all of the details. I found the building. Finding anything in India is a miracle and reaffirms my belief in a supreme power. I’m not sure if it was Krishna, Vishnu, or God himself that helped me find this huge building, but its location right next to the train track made it easier. So, I went around this monstrosity of a building, and up the stairs. I had to ask multiple people for help finding the back entrance. Then, I was confronted with a bored looking security guard. He asked a few questions and then let me in to the next room. The manager was not there, but I met a guy in his mid-twenties who started asking me about the “strength” of my company. I told him that my company was not very strong because it didn’t go to the gym, but that he could feel my biceps to test me personally for strength. In America, companies don’t have strength, they have number of employees, and yearly revenues instead — a different use of language! I never made it into their high-security call center to see more.

A Call Center in Bangalore
I arranged an interview with the sales manager of a call center in Bangalore. We talked for a while, and he tried to get me to sign a very constrictive contract. My gut feeling was that signing my life away would not be advantageous. So, I didn’t! I met some of the staff there. There was a nice lady who was a mother working part-time.

She spoke too quietly. I didn’t think she would be a good match for my impatient clients who need to be able to hear what you are saying. But, there were rows and rows of cubicles at this nice office that was situated on a main artery in a prosperous part of Northern Bangalore. So, many people were there — it seemed endless. There was “motorcycle guy” who seemed very Americanized and was a smooth talker. He put on his flashy red and black leather jacket because his shift was over. There were some fast talking ladies who were on a project for a large corporation. There was a floor manager who was walking around seeing if everyone was doing their job. And then there was the shrewd looking salesman who wanted to twist my arm into an undesirable contract — well, undesirable for me, but very desirable for him!

A Call Center in Chennai
My favorite call center so far was a Call Center in Chennai. I met the manager who was very nice. He told me about all of the flexible options that I could have. Fluidity is high on my list of desirable attributes. I could rent a spot by the month and work there myself or hire one of his workers by the month. I got to choose who I liked, and it was all very reasonable sounding.

A Call Center in Noida or Delhi
I haven’t visited there yet. But, I will keep you informed if I ever go to a call center in Delhi. Noida is the Call Center capital of India just as Manila or Makati City is the call center capital of the Philippines (or perhaps the world). If your computer breaks, chances are you will be talking to someone named, “John Smith” who has a fake British accent who is in Noida — but, who can’t disclose his actual location.

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