How Do Indian Call Centers Measure Success?

Indian call centers live and die by the responses to customer satisfaction surveys. Customers selected at random are called by an outside agency and asked fifteen questions. Of those, the only one that matters is “Overall how would you rate the agent you spoke with?” Based on the answers to that question, the call center receives a weekly score on a 1-5 scale. The call center aims for 50% of respondents to rate them a 5, the highest, and for 85% to rate them a 4 or higher. From our experience, that seems like an unattainably optimistic goal.

Though each Indian call center is different, our tipster explains how his measures success, inside…

(Photo: sarae)

An outside firm calls the customers after they’ve had contact with us, and asks them to score us on a scale of 1 to 5. And yes, we get a weekly report of the scores for each site. [We have] minimum targets (which is for 50 percent of callers to rate us a perfect 5, and 85 percent of callers to rate us a 4 or a 5.) And despite what people may think, they REALLY care about those scores. A single low scoring call has managers scrambling, arranging meetings, people tracking down the recording, action plans, training sessions being arranged, charts, graphs…. etc.

It may seem to the customer like no one cares, but that’s because no one at our site is authorized to get into contact with the customer to apologize or acknowledge the complaint. (another issue to send up the totem pole.)

There are a series of around 15 questions they ask.

  • What’s your overall experience with the company,
  • How likely are you to recommend the company to your friends,
  • Overall how would you rate the agent you spoke with,
  • How would you rate their attitude, the level of resolution they gave you, the level of personal attention…. etc.

    The questions about the company are used by the company themselves (and also to give the customer a place to vent so they don’t have to take out complaints on the company on the agent), the “overall how would you rate this agent” is the sole factor used in the scores, and the rest (along with comments) are used by trainers to see what exactly lead to the low score so we know what to correct.



    Edit Your Comment

    1. Hallik09 says:

      I’m actually on the line with Dell Indian sales right now, and so far, it’s less than 1.

    2. Onouris says:

      What’s with all the Indian call centre posts at the moment. Nothing else happening in the world?

    3. roche says:

      I think a score of 5 by 10% is an unattainable goal. I have never once been had a pleasurable experience calling an Indian call center.

    4. Hallik09 says:

      To be fair, I was able to bring down the price of a $2500 dell laptop to 1375+tax but for some reason after 2 hours and a half, the call was mysteriously dropped when I tried to push for $2800 grand total w/ tax on two Inspiron e1705’s. Then the rep who 2 minutes before asked me if the call drops where she can reach me, never called me, and when I tried to call back, boom dept. closed

    5. dragonflight says:

      @Onouris: I was wondering this too. Probably the same informant tip split into a ton of different posts?

    6. formergr says:

      I thought we had other submissions from call center employee tipsters telling us how their games and web surfing were what kept them sane in between our annoying calls?

    7. germ says:

      @dragonflight: Agreed. Kind of like all the quiznos posts a few weeks back. Take one juicy piece of info, and stretch it out into multiple posts. The frequency of posts keeps people coming back, even if it means the quality and credibility of Consumerist-Gawker Media drops.

    8. Athenor says:

      If I recall, the first Indian call center post of the day said they’d be posting these all day, as they got ahold of a pretty big tipster and it would make a nice weekend expose’.

    9. Nick says:

      @Onouris: True, but hey, I can’t complain — at least reading about Indian call centers is interesting. It’s so much better than all that crap they posted a few days ago about satellite radio and that show that got suspended. Making a big deal out of nothing indeed.

    10. roche says:

      @nick2588: I agree. Free speech is asinine.

    11. sdirge says:

      I recently made a call to Microsoft to deal with a software issue the call cost me about $300 usd and lasted 4 hours, unfortunately the rep did not take my advice and 3 of those hours were spent troubleshooting a problem that was a side effect of the real problem. In the end he got it fixed from an “internal” knowledgebase article.

      So it was fixed, that’s all I cared about, when asked to rate the call I listed it as a 7 out of 10. The person asked what would it take to make it an 10, I said the length of the call and the unwillingness of the tech to listen to my suggestions was what lowered the score, although I would not say I was unsatisfied.

      A couple of days later someone from that call center called me back and pleaded with me to raise the score to above 8, he explained that anything lower than an 8 was unsatisfactory, and that I had gotten “the new guy”. He even offered to refund the money I paid for the support call. Just to get this guy out of my hair I said fine.

      A couple of more days pass by then I get another call from MS this time I don’t think it was from the call center. They wanted to know why I gave them an 8 and not something higher, again alluding that an 8 implied I was unsatisfied with the call.

      Since when is a 7 or 8 bad?

      That’s right, everything has to be perfect now.

      an, I wonder what kind of pressure these people are working under…..

    12. Onouris says:

      Luckily in England most of the big companies make a big deal about how they’re now using call centres in England again. Seems like they got the idea that outsourcing to get cheap labour just loses customers.

      Nothing against Indians, but the ones they use had such thick accents it really was difficult to understand.

    13. Karmakin says:

      Those numbers are probably too high, so it’s spin in that way. The goal is probably more like 60-70% for a 4 out of 5. Which still isn’t too bad.

    14. Wormfather says:

      Can we get a “Confessions of an Indian CSR” post going? I need a good chuckle.

    15. BII says:

      Company I work for, albeit much smaller than Dell, has a call center, and aside from taking phone orders, they also handle CS, and every individual customer is contacted back by the manager of the store they mention, or sometimes the district manager gets involved. And they (they call center) send out a few coupons for free product immediately.

      I’ve personally seen people terminated over CS emails titled “Customer reports she saw altercation between employee and another customer” or things along that line.

    16. BII says:


      oh, please, the whole XM radio and opie and anthony thing has nothing to do with free speech.

      free speech does not equal the right to be gainfully employed to exercise said speech.

    17. Tush says:

      I hate it when folks argue that “Their accents are so thick I can’t understand them” I understand your plight, I’ve had problems understanding accents as well but this is a world economy now, we need to start thinking on a global perspective. If that requires people to learn how to understand different accents, is that so bad? I mean they’re learning YOUR language, can’t we give a little?

    18. Stan LS says:


      “I mean they’re learning YOUR language, can’t we give a little?” But we are giving more then a little when we pay $ for a product. Now, if that same product had a disclaimer on its packaging stating the the support lines are operated by the people who potentially have thick accents…

    19. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

      You are an idiot!
      No company would ever staff a call center for Americans with Yorkshire natives.
      Even most Englishmen have trouble with that accent!

      The only reason American companies use Indian call centers is that after one call, their customers are so fed up with trying to deal with tech support, that the customer never calls back. It’s easier just to spend the same three hours & fix it yourself!

      Every call to India always has them tell you do this:
      That’s their answer to everything.

    20. Tush says:

      @Greasy Thumb Guzik: No reason to call me an idiot, my friend. My argument was not against those who say they don’t get good service from these call centers, my argument is that we should at least open our minds to other accents.

      You do have a good point with the Yorkshire comment, but you don’t have to be an ass about it.

    21. silenuswise says:

      I just posted about this in the last Indian call center thread, but allow me to chime in here: Tush, while you are probably not an idiot, your comment was indeed idiotic. We are talking about customer service: the job of customer support is to assist the customer in successfully using a purchased product or service. Period. As a business owner, it is my job to meet my client’s needs–I don’t ask them to “meet me halfway” by, say, agreeing to have their kitchen painted green because I’m out of white paint for the moment.

      Honestly, this is a no-brainer. Stop excusing poor customer service because a company is too cheap to ensure that its agents can properly do the job.

    22. Tush says:

      @silenuswise: Are you serious?

      I’m not arguing about poor customer service, I’m arguing about accents…

      There are customer service reps out there that are well-trained and provide good service but get dogged because they have different accents.

    23. SowndOfDeth says:

      Maybe companies shouldn’t do business with some people :) Why are people so impatient?

    24. silenuswise says:

      Tush, if you’d been carefully reading the comments on this issue (and it appears you haven’t, based on your comment) then you should understand that the exasperation people are expressing has everything to do with poor customer service from outsourced calls. And yes, one of the biggest problems is an insufficient grasp of the language (and dialects) of the customers calling for assistance.

      Let me put it simply: when company X makes a decision to improve its bottom line by outsourcing a division of its labor, then it’s probably a good idea to make sure that that labor maintains the same level of quality to meet customer expectations. If customers start receiving lowered quality (e.g., poor communication skills from customer service reps), then they will go elsewhere. If I’m a smart company, I’m going to make sure my customer is happy by spending the money I’ve saved from employing a cheaper labor pool on training my agents to be no less than dialect experts.

      Of course, companies like Dell are no doubt banking on the fact that the number of customers who will not endure lower quality is significantly smaller than the number of customers who either cheerfully or meekly accept crappy service. If comments like yours reflect the norm, then it appears Dell made the smart move.

    25. othium says:

      “Accents”? I don’t care about that. I just want the person to know what they are doing. I’m willing to work with someone and will ask for clarification if I need to.

      I am one of maybe three native English speakers at my company worksite and it can get pretty strange when you have to explain certain things before it gets too heated due to cultural differences. Believe me. A company that needs workers will hire people with marginal English skills in a heartbeat if they are under enough pressure to do so. I work in the Personal Health Care industry and it is mostly non-native English speakers where I work. The consumers we serve are 90% English speaking. You can bet your boots that some interesting/difficult situations come up.

    26. revmatty says:

      I’ve called tech support for my employers for various systems for the last 18 years, being often the only technically minded person in the building even before I got into computers. In the early to mid 90’s all the call centers were in the U.S. I don’t recall those people being noticeably more helpful than the Indian people are today.

      If you were dealing with a MSFT product or running on Windows in 1993 you talked to a bored/angry/incoherent person in the middle of nowhere in Kentucky who didn’t care and told you to reboot and call back. Now you talk to a bored/angry/incoherent person in the middle of nowhere in India who doesn’t care and tells you to reboot and call back.

      I had just a tougher time figuring out what the good ‘ol southern boys and girls were saying back then than I do now with the Indians. As far as I’m concerned that’s one thing that’s changed for the better. I can understand the Indians through their accent. And they try to minimize the accent. The rural U.S. call center denizens sure seemed to be trying to make their accent as impenetrable as possible.

    27. Nytmare says:

      Why not meet the customer service dept halfway by learning to speak their native language? Every Dell buyer should learn to speak fluent Hindi, as well as grasp the basics of Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Urdu.

    28. toddkravos says:

      In the call center world,Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the new black

    29. silenuswise says:

      @nytmare: you summarized my argument in two perfect, hilarious sentences. You rule, my friend.

    30. shamrin says:

      Doesn’t the problem here have more to do with capitalism than accents? No doubt that Cisco would love to give you the home and mobile numbers of their top CCNP certified tech for when you are having trouble with that Linksys router. Trouble is, you only paid $20 for the thing at Best Buy and that profit margin will support exactly 0.03 seconds of his time (at his salary of $150K plus benefits) to explain that you need to unplug it and reboot.

      How much would you pay per minute for great tech support?

    31. toobadsprint says:

      Sprint also uses Indian Call Centers along with Canadian ones too