London, UK/Bangalore, India – recent
London, UK – March 17 2005
1. Various of British companies logos on buildings
Bangalore, India – recent
2. Pan shot of entrance to International Tech Park
3. Row of call centre employees working at their work stations
4. Various of employees with headsets
5. SOUNDBITE: (English) Vasupradha, Process trainer
6. Accent training class in progress
7. Pan and shift focus from close of woman’s face to other trainees
in the background
8. Wide of class listening to trainer
9. SOUNDBITE: (English) Savitha Nair, Trainer
10. Trainer writing a word on whiteboard and asking class to
11. Trainees listening
12. Word ‘photograph’ written on whiteboard
13. Trainer telling class the pronunciation
14. SOUNDBITE: (English) Yoneko Stephen, Employee
15. Shift focus from one employee to another in a row
16. Tilt up from keyboard to employee speaking into headset
17. SOUNDBITE: (English) Vasupradha, Process trainer
18. SOUNDBITE: (English) Yoneko Stephen, Agent
19. Various of staff answering calls
It used to be that companies employed only a few staff to answer their customers’ telephone enquiries.
Then in the 90’s came the growth in technology and with it a new phenomenon, the Call Centre.
It was technology again that provided the means, if not the motivation, for the latest trend in customer servicing – outsourced call centres.
Now, many corporations employ other companies to look after their customers.
And many of those other companies are not even in the same country as the customers.
Abbey Banking, Royal Sun Alliance, Lloyds and British Telecom, British Rail, Norwich Union , Manpower – all British companies with large customer bases, requiring a lot of staff to look after them.
They have another thing in common, too.
Like a lot of British companies, they’ve given the job of looking after their customers to another company altogether.
And in so doing have moved their customer call centres overseas –
to here, Bangalore, a city in Southern India.
In companies, dotted throughout this technology park, telephone operators handle thousands of sales and enquiries from British customers on a daily basis.
But how can a service technician in India even begin to understand the needs of a customer from a different culture living on another continent six thousand miles away?
“It’s not really difficult, not after the kind of training you go through. We’re absolutely prepared for everything you’re going to encounter. Not just product-wise – you know what the UK is all about, you know the client you’re dealing with, you know the place you’re dealing with. So there is nothing that would surprise you after that. You’re aware of what people there are like, you’re aware of their lifestyles, their expectations. You’re made aware of these things during training.”
SUPER CAPTION: Vasupradha, Process trainer
Training begins at an elementary level – how to speak the sort of English that puts customers at their ease.
Not as easy as it sounds.
Then there’s the problem of dealing with customers from different regions – there are dozens in the UK, each with a distinctive accent and idiom.
“As well as learning how to converse and communicate with the
British public, they also need to learn how to understand the public. It’s not a one-sided thing. They have to be aware of exactly how a British person would speak, the idioms they use, that’s something that they will do during listening skills.”
SUPER CAPTION: Savitha Nair, Trainer
SUPER CAPTION: Yoneko Stephen, Employee
And what do the staff think?
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