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|August 5, 2000|
Indian team strikes deals at call center meet
A 40-member delegation from India was in Chicago this week to attend the 12th Annual ICCM Call Center Management Conference and Exposition. The delegation, sponsored by the Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council of India, consisted of representatives of companies that have either set up call centers in India or are considering the option.
During the visit, at least three companies have entered into strategic alliances with companies in India.
In lay terms, a call center is a facility that handles large volume of inbound and outbound telephone calls. They are manned by "agents", individuals who act as ambassadors of an organization.
The nature of calls can vary from customer service, sales, marketing and technical support. Call centers liase between companies and customers. Besides providing basic information and answering different queries, they are effective tools for real-time marketing and market intelligence gathering, which means, you can call anytime. Most call centers work round the clock and one can be certain of getting across to a person without a long wait.
The call center has evolved into a powerful and crucial part of every successful service business. As technologies converge, call center applicants require richer, more complex multimedia. The future demands that call centers support web commerce, video calls and whatever media the customer prefers.
"Two companies have tied up on a joint venture basis and one company has tied up with a call center university to provide training services to Indian call centers agents, says D K Sareen, executive director, Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council." He refused to divulge names though.
The delegation visited Lucent Technologies and Motorola in Chicago. It also visited CINCOM's headquarters in Cincinnati and will visit a call center in Los Angeles.
India is now being viewed as an exciting country for offshore call center services to developed countries. Services can be provided much cheaper in India. Call center costs can work out to approximately $ 10,000 per agent per annum in India as against $ 100,000 in the US.
"People will make the difference in call centers and India has a lot of them," says Sareen. Agents in India are now being trained to speak with American, British or Australian accents.
Depending on the company size and nature of business, call centers may be manned by as few as 10 agents to as many as 5,000.
The call center industry worldwide is already dialing a turnover of $ 800 billion. In the US alone there are estimated to be over five million agents and the number is growing at 20 per cent per annum. The industry is growing at 15-20 per cent in the US, which has a lion's share of the worldwide call center market, especially in terms of supply of technology and user market. In India, call centers are still at an experimental stage.
"Lot of work is being done in India for airline ticketing. Once we go through this initial stage there is scope for export of services like answering voice calls, responding to e-mail etc," says Sareen.
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