A Day In the Life of an Indian CSR

It’s easy to get frustrated by the Indian CSR on the other end of the phone. Feeding them your problems by telephonic umbilical to a far off, Curry-scented land, they can be alternately obsequious or surly, less than fluent or overly versed in corporate binder CSR jargon. And there’s nothing more insulting than one introduces himself as ‘Joe’ and starts talking about the local baseball team.

So it’s easy to vilify the Indian CSR. But this piece over at the Christian Science Monitor from an American who trained them for over a year paints a rare human side of the strangely lilting foreign voice on the other end of the phone:

Most of these students lived in fear of irate customers. Horror stories circulated from experienced agents back to my students about enraged customers screaming at them, demanding to speak to an American – someone who could “speak English.” I would prepare them for this possibility by having them act out an angry customer berating an agent. They loved these little dramas. One would energetically pretend to be an outraged customer (“What are you doing? Playing computer games!? I’ve been on hold for 45 minutes! Get me an American right NOW!”), and the other “agent” would practice cooling him down.

Teaching the introductory classes was fun, but it was when I began teaching retraining classes that I began to get another perspective about what this job was like for agents.

Retraining classes were for five days and for agents who were getting lots of customer complaints. These agents did a lot of grumbling themselves. I was frequently asked, “How can we empathize with frustrated customers when we are so frustrated ourselves?”

Bad customer service is rarely the sole fault of the CSR: it’s the fault of the company that looks upon customer service as an expense to be minimized at the expense of quality and satisfaction. This is a charming, somewhat heartbreaking look at the extremely intelligent, well-educated people who are employed by companies for pennies on the dollar to take the shaft.

Inside an Indian Call Center: The Big Disconnect [Christian Science Monitor]