Posted: 11 January 2005 at 9:29pm | IP Logged
Sound and fury being monitored
By Chidanand Rajghatta/TNN
Washington: Some months ago, an
assistant to NBC comedian Conan O'Brien phoned the in-house help-desk to fix a
computer glitch. The call landed in India. After a tete-etete with Sharon, the
female call centre agent in Hyderabad, Andy flew to India with the computers,
pretending to be smitten by the back office diva. The rest was all Bollywood
parody, complete with song and dance.
Apparently such episodes are
best restricted to comedy skits and fant a s y — b e - cause Big Brother is
eavesdropping on you. Word in the business is that call centres are taking their
pro forma warning—'This call may be monitored for quality assurance
purposes'—rather too seriously. They are supervising a higher percentage of
calls than ever before and are also hiring third party firms to monitor calls,
including in India.
The monitors are not only assessing the quality
of the call centre agent response, but also the behaviour of the caller. Under
the new rules of engagement, Andy the Assistant's flirtation with 'Sharon' would
be taboo. 'Listen
to me, you dirty rat eater' By Chidanand
Washington: A company monitoring the quality of
call centre agent response and caller behaviour recently overheard a young male
customer flirting with a female agent at a cellphone company and extracting her
personal telephone number reported the matter to the cellphone company,
according to the New York Times.
Call centre customers come in a
variety of avatars, as this correspondent found after spending several nights in
such back offices in Bangalore and New Delhi last year to understand how the
system works. There are hotheads and cold hearts. Some are rude and obnoxious,
some cannot speak or articulate clearly. Agents who can handle the situation are
highly regarded. In one recent incident that has provoked outrage among Indian
community activists, a caller from the US trying to purchase mail-order hair
beads is reported to have abused a call centre agent in India.
recording of the exchange was played on a Philadelphia radio station. According
to an e-mail sent out by activists urging Indians to call the radio station in
protest, the exchange went as follows:
Caller: This call's been
outsourced to India? Agent: That's right.
Caller: Well, ma'am, what the
eff would you know about an American white girl's...uh, uh...hair? And quick
Agent: Just to inform you, ma'am, we're a national chain services
company. And we're just taking calls on the opposite...
bitch! Don't get slick with the mouth! Don't you get slick with me, bitch!
Agent: Now if you continue to speak this language, I will disconnect the
Caller: Listen to me, you dirty rat-eater. I'll come out there and
choke the eff out of you (laughter). You're a filthy rat-eater. I'm calling
about my American six-year-old white girl. How dare you outsource my call? Get
off the line, bitch! (laughter, end of tape)
Although such calls are
rare and the US is known for its transactional correctness, the fact that call
centres in India seem to provoke the ire of some US customers appears to have
prompted companies to hire monitoring agencies. In fact, even the monitoring is
now moving off-shore. Hyper-Quality, a Seattle-based firm, is said to have 100
call monitors in New Delhi eavesdropping on call centre workers around the US.