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The call of the call centre

Anil Kumar V | November 11, 2003

Call centre classes seem to be having their time under the sun -- Mumbai suburbs are a great example of this -- thanks to a booming information technology-enabled services sector that is aggressively seeking young recruits.

High level of attrition is another reason for the spate of jobs being thrown up by the industry.

"The next few months are going to be tough for the call centre industry on the recruitment front as the stock of fresh graduates drains out by the middle of the academic year," says Sonali Madan, director, Mainstream Technology, a Mumbai-based recruitment and training firm.

"During this period companies will even try to convince people from other fields to join call centres. There is a dearth of quality people," Madan said.

Mushtaq Rauf, marketing director of Mainstream, adds: "We offer incentives to a candidate to assure that he attends an interview. We also reward him if he sticks to the job."

Incentives, in fact, is gaining currency among the recruiters.

Sample this: A Mumbai-based unit offers movie tickets and disco passes just so that candidates come for an interview. And if the job is bagged, a cellphone comes with the appointment letter.

The courses mainly focus on communication skills -- they're a sine qua non in the customer relationship industry. In fact, most of the Mumbai-based institutes conduct aptitude tests and/or interviews. Batches are formed of students of same calibre.

The curriculum consists of industry overview, voice modulation, handling inbound and outbound calls, customer service, telephone etiquette, call planning and probing skills and extemporaneous abilities.

Voice modulation stresses on the different accents in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The duration of these programmes varies from two weeks to six weeks. There are also courses that extend from four-and-a-half to six months.

These extended programmes also cover topics such as public speaking, personality development, general knowledge and group discussion.

Mumbai-based K10 Technology, which is into call centre recruitment and corporate training, conducts two courses. The first course of one-and-a-half months costs Rs 5,400.

The second one of three months costs Rs 10,800. K10 also conducts courses at company premises for a fee of Rs 12,500/person.

According to Sapna Sharma, instructor at Talk Institute, Mumbai, most of the students at her institute are either collegians or fresh graduates.

"Students don't want to miss out on the job opportunities offered by the call centre industry. They feel brushing up their communication skills will definitely pay rich dividends," she says.

Meantime, here's a list of some Mumbai-based institutes offering call centre courses: K10 Technology (26733504), Mainstream Technology (56921152), Talk Institute (23865596), E-tech Infosys (28019155), and Shroff Classes (24120276).

A word of caution

An enquiry at a reputed college in south Mumbai ended up in the following conversation:

Do you conduct any call centre courses?

"Not at present. But we'll start if you gather 15 students and come to us."

What about the course structure and fees?

"That we will decide later."

Opportunism or what?

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