You’re not alone hating Indian call centers. Indians hate them too, mostly because they get stuck dealing with an even lower caste of customer service representatives than Americans. The well-educated smooth talking CSRs get the prestigious jobs infuriating foreign customers, while the the untrained masses are paid basmati to cater to India’s domestic customers.
The results, predictably, have been lower quality of service for Indians as they try to navigate their cell-phone plans, their credit-card bills, or their flight reservations. “It took me three years to get a job with foreign clients,” says Manish Tripathi, a 24-year-old call-center worker who asked that his employer’s name not be mentioned. “And the difference was vast. Every day, they trained us on the software, the computers were better, even the telephones were nicer.”
But for Indian call centers that serve Indian clients, Coles says the issue is basic: pay and prestige. “Folks in the contact-center industry are always looking for an improvement in compensation and status,” he says. “There is certainly a food chain, so the effect is that talented folks that may enter in the domestic sector are looking for ways to move themselves [to] foreign language.”
Unlike in the U.S., complaints in India are not about the fact that jobs have gone overseas, of course, or about accent or language. Instead, like Americans, Indians just want quick service. “It is unbelievable sometimes,” says Anupam Mathur, who manages several bank accounts for his employer, a New Delhi-based furniture company. “They don’t understand my questions, they don’t have any answers, they don’t have the authority to solve my problems.”
Except for raking in gobs of cash, the folks running India’s call centers just can’t win.