Wednesday, June 16, 2004

the indian call centre mishap

I've had discussions with my American colleagues and friends about the whole outsourcing drama. Of course, I haven't had too many diverse backgrounds to deal with. The cogent inputs have acknowledged the insanity of the backlash. But I seriously have issues with the ballooning call centre nightmare. All good things for desi wannabe yuppaahs and yuppees aside, it's sad to see elements of IT being officially reduced to graveyard shift work. Staying up late occasionally, because there's this feature you *want* (as opposed to *have*, something that is disagreeable and unacceptable) to put in, is cool. Not staying up late to respond to phone calls across miles of ocean. And what is least acceptable is having to fake accents and names. The fake accents don't really work. Why not get them to just speak proper English? The Indian accent (with its mixed Raj and Umriikaa heritage) is fine. Honest. The Indianised fake-Amru accent is one of the worst things that can hit your ears. Indians who have lived here a long while, and who have let the ambient intonations gradually seep into their pronunciations manage to get the transition right. Every other FOB anxious to mix in with the crowd starts butchering everything that was right about the English they learnt back home. That aside. At least on this side of the shores, you have some native aural feeds to serve as corrective hints. Back home, you've got only a handful of cable channels.

And WTFF do you have to change your name? Every excuse offered is a load of Godzilla kakkaa for all I care. If the same person were at the other end of a customer support line in the USA, there would be no put-on accent and no fake name. I've dealt with both kinds of people, so I know. It's just embarrassing (after being hilarious) to hear some Indian lad or lassie stumble verbally on the wet linguistic toilet floor with prepared statements and a fake name. Friends of mine often enjoy breaking the delicate algorithm of responses. I might do that if it gets more annoying. And you know what "Susan"? You don't sound like no "Susan" to me. I've read articles where some call centre employees have expressed their resentment at this fake-name business. I really wish their employers would see the light (but then how could they in IST?) and quit the charade. Customer support sucks, generally speaking. Don't make a vacuum cleaner out of it.

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