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I Call, Therefore I Am

Wouldn’t we all like to be as lucky as Amit Nagpal? A call centre employee, he absolutely luvs his job! Here in his own words, he explains why.

First things first. Let me introduce myself. I am a 29 year ‘old’ Commerce graduate working at a call centre in Noida. Did you just go “A 29 year old working in a call centre? I thought call centres were only for 20-something girls and guys who just want to have some fun while talking to overseas clients in their best yankee or stiff upper lip accent?” Well let me also inform you that I am married and have an adorable 2 year old boy! So what am I? The owner of the call centre? Nah… but I very well could have been if I had started at, say, 20. Only, when I was 20, I was drawing a salary of Rs. 3,000 per month working with a share broker in Lajpat Nagar, I had never even heard of call centres, and spent most of my time trying to impress this girl I met everyday in the chartered bus.

At HCL BPO, the call centre where I work today, I am a Communications Coordinator. Very fancy title, isn’t it? The work that I do is fancy too. What’s in it for me? As a Commerce graduate, I could have gone on to become an MBA or an accountant, but I made a conscious choice not to. Instead, I struggled to find the right break and took up various jobs including one as a telemarketer in a resort company (the closest we had to call centres before GE happened), one in direct marketing, and one as a computer operator. Then I got a wonderful break in an overseas buying cum fashion house. Finally in Feb 2003, I joined HCL BPO (earlier known as HCL E-serve) as a Team Member – Customer Care.

Today, as I sit in front of my office computer’ typing this out, I can confidentially say that my 20 months here have been well spent. I have learnt a lot and gained a lot – not only monetarily but mentally and physically as well! There is a swank gym in my office but I don’t use it! I could, but I don’t except when I feel like playing table tennis. That’s the physical part. Monetarily, where else would a mere graduate with varied work experience get upto approximately Rs. 20,000 a month? Add to that the free meals, and the home pick and drop and it comes to about Rs. 25,000 CTC per month – an amount that is more or less the standard for a person of my experience.

Mentally, trust me when I say you can learn a lot in a call centre. Apart from the basic voice and accent, process and culture training, what came as a pleasant surprise to me was the fact that there are so many opportunities to grow. One can not only move laterally or vertically within an organisation, but can also take advantage of the various training courses given from time to time. Currently, I have the opportunity to participate in a six sigma project, which will make me a green belt in six sigma in 5 months! I would have to pay somewhere in the region of Rs. 20,000 to 40,000 if I were to do the same outside.

I know this may sound a bit clichéd, but not only is my work creative, I really enjoy what I do. When I was calling (which I did for a good 12 months), I used to ensure that I infused humour into every call that I made or received, without being rude or offensive, of course. Fortunately, all the team leaders I had were more like friends and never cribbed about the fact that I had the lowest number of calls in my team or that I took a lot of time on my calls. I think my consistent quality scores of 98+ did the trick! Or maybe it was the fact that at 28, I was the oldest in the team! (Just kidding on that one.) These days I notice there are many employees who are older than me, and have excellent communication skills.

My timings are excellent. I leave home at an easy 11:30 AM and come back at the earthly hour of 11:30 PM! I see my family every night. I earn great salary and enjoy an excellent working atmosphere. The benefits of my jobs include: the presence of good looking and intelligent girls all around, official and “un-official” parties galore, umpteen opportunities to grow, chances to go abroad, interaction with the top management, no power cuts, no water shortage, no fuel expenses, no traveling in buses, no bringing tiffin from home, hardly any pressure (at least not on me!), regular training programmes… which other job will give you all that??

All the above views are my own and based on my experience. Many of the above mentioned perks are a result of HCL’s collaboration with BT, so I am not really sure about other call centres. But for me, working in a call centre has been, to borrow a British expression, just brilliant!

Article published in JAM dated 29 Nov 2004