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Article by Mohan Babu


CRM and BPO: Linking Indians globally?

The BPO industry is making the global economy really small, discovers MOHAN BABU, when a tele-marketer calls him up all the way from Bangalore, to sell an insurance policy. The only dilemma for him—whether to give in to patriotic urges and patronise the caller or hang up the phone

CRM and BOI finally came home, literally, last week. Even after reading so much on the BPO hype and the call centre movement in India, I was probably not prepared to experience it firsthand, not as a user at least. A few days ago, I got a call just when we were sitting down for dinner. Another pesky tele-marketer, I thought to myself as I picked up the phone. Sure enough, it was a tele-marketer, although it was not just another caller. It was an Indian tele-marketer calling on behalf of Prudential (or was it Progressive?), trying to sell me an insurance policy.

This got me thinking about Indians and BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). How our entry into the BPO industry has made the global economy really small. Sitting in Bangalore, Sharma (the caller’s name modified), was able to call his customer thousands of miles away and attempted to persuade him to buy the products and services being offered by a multinational company.

A number of multinationals have successfully outsourced their call centre operations to India, where an educated, English-speaking workforce with special training in language, accents and phonic usage manages them, providing a cheaper, cost-effective alternative to global clientele. Needless to say, Indian technical entrepreneurship has ensured that behind-the-scenes nuts and bolts in the form of high-speed data and voice lines, call centre and communication equipment, and managers, are available to facilitate smooth operations. The market for Indian IT-enabled services (ITES) industry is currently around $875 million.

Back to my encounter with Indian BPO in the US: Sharma, was extremely polite, introduced himself by name and after mentioning his company and service, started off with, “Mr Babu, how are you this evening?” I guess he realised that he was talking to an Indian and decided not to put on an accent (another market lesson in cultural sensitivity?) I, however, was not going to interrupt my dinner and wanted to politely end the conversation as soon as I could. Sharma, the trained salesman that he was, was unwilling to let his fish slip away. He switched over to a cajoling tone, saying, “Mr Babu, please, please just listen to me”— reminding me of the old Eureka Forbes salesmen I used to encounter back in Bangalore. When he realised that I would be unwilling to relent, he decided on another tactic: “Do you know of any other Indian friend of yours who may be interested in Prudential?”

At that instant my mind was in a state of conflict. Do I become overly patriotic and patronise the caller just because he happened to be calling his NRI “brother” for a favour, or do I hang up like I do to most other unsolicited callers who happen to interrupt my lunch, dinner or siesta?

My dinner was getting cold and my wife was already giving me quizzical looks (“What are you doing chatting with a tele-marketer?” she seemed to be asking), and I decided to hang up. Better luck next time, Mr Sharma!




About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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