|By Harsimran Singh, The Economic Times, India|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 15, 2004 - Ever wondered why the appetite for Indian BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing) is increasing by the day? It's because the calls routed to India are fried in the oil of empathy, stewed in the waters of patience, spiced with quick problem solving and garnished with a good accent.
And it's all possible with help of good chefs, stewards, housekeepers & bartenders. Don't be surprised. BPO industry is on a spree to hire hotel industry graduates.
"IHM Aurangabad, Gwalior, Kolkata and Delhi are our favourite hunting grounds for new agents. As it is, they are trained in good customer service and good spoken English, is just the icing on the cake we need." Says a manager with a UK-based BPO in Gurgaon.
And the calls get a unique flavour with a hotel industry handling it. "I add the rum of empathy, sweeten it with the tequila of compassion, tonic it with quick problem resolution and lime it with a tinge of good humour and the client is left inebriated with the alcohol of a perfect call," says Ramit Khurana, an ex-bartender from a five star hotel in Delhi, working in a voice based process in Gurgaon.
But why are hospitality graduates joining BPOs? Simply, coz of the good money & growth prospects. The fresh grads get anywhere above Rs 10,000. Whereas in a hotel he would get around Rs 6K-7K as a starter. And the amount becomes lower in a small setup.
Says Mr. Aseem Handa, Director, Talent Search EXL Services: "We don't specifically go to Hotel Management Institutes for recruitment. But yes, candidates from the hotel industry do have an upper hand when it comes to customer service. And that's counted while recruitment."
Plus if they are experienced, they get a good salary. The hospitality sector is quite demanding physically. Especially if one is working as a steward, head waiter, bartender or house keeper. "And if one gets the same salary or in most cases higher, then its reasonable to switch industry," says Rekhank Pant, a batch trainer with Dell Tech Process.
The BPO sector is also very demanding. But it is more of a mental stamina that's required. Ability to stand for long hours taking calls, diffusing people's temper, making them calm and resolving their problems successfully is required of a good customer care executive.
Plus if one has a technical qualification it's just an icing on the cake. He can work for a technical process as well. If one has worked in a back-end process its very helpful. Plus, people from Hotel industry already have an experience in handling night shifts.
"Stagnant growth is one of the most common reasons cited for switching to BPOs in interviews," says Ms. Gunjan Malik, Senior HR Executive at Hughes BPO Services Gurgaon.
The growth in the ITeS is around 40 percent annually which is much higher than that of the Hotel industry. The Hotel industry was at a point of saturation, especially after the September 11 crash.
I was stuck in the same position for three years and was not enjoying my work. The reports of sky rocketing salaries and new avenues opening in the BPO sector led me to switch careers. I am now getting 30+ much better than what I used to get in the hotel industry.
The syllabus at the IHMs (Indian Institutes of Hotel Management) include complaint handling and telephone etiquette. Moreover, if one has got some experience at front desk, it counts in an interview for a BPO job.
According to Chris Scoggins, chief executive of National Rail Enquiries: "At least 50 per cent of all enquiries could soon be answered from India. He said, "The quality is as good as, or in some cases, better."
The Indian agents also have a better AHT (Average Handling Time ) as compared to their American and European counterparts. They have better call quality figures. Plus the calls get a distinct flavor and aroma when it is handled by people from hospitality industry.
So now you are in US or Europe talking to a customer care agent don't be surprised if you get that alluring Indian aroma on the call.
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