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My Life In An Indian Call Centre: Thick Australians, Sarcastic British And Smart Mouthed Americans

by | 8th, July 2011

ANDREW Marantz has worked at an Indian call centre. He’s been to Delhi waiting for an Indian “culture trainer” to teach me how to act like an Australian to better empathise with the callers. He is an American.

He attends a seminar:

I forked over the 500 rupees, which was nearly a week’s pay for the average Indian worker—but which was, on the other hand, $11.

The “skills course” consisted of a woman reading from a photocopied pamphlet while 100 of us took notes. “What is call center to you?” she bellowed. Without waiting for a response, she intoned the correct answer. “Call center is a place where” — she motioned for us to transcribe — “we render the services to the customers and”—pause, more scribbling—”queries are made out by customer-care executive.

There are types of callers:

“First is your eccentric!” she yelled.

“Second is your arrogant!

“Third is your bumpkin!

“Fourth is your quarrelsome!

“Fifth is your prudent!

“Sixth is your assertive!

“And seventh is your sweet-spoken!

And then there is the Australian:

“Just stating facts, guys,” Lekha began, as we scribbled notes, “Australia is known as the dumbest continent. Literally, college was unknown there until recently. So speak slowly.” Next to me, a young man in a turban wrote No college in his notebook.

“Technologically speaking, they’re somewhat backward, as well. The average person’s mobile would be no better than, say, a Nokia 3110 classic.” This drew scoffs from around the room.

“Australians drink constantly,” Lekha continued. “If you call on a Friday night, they’ll be smashed—every time. Oh, and don’t attempt to make small talk with them about their pets, okay? They can be quite touchy about animals.”

“What kind of people are there in Australia?” a trainee asked. “What are their traits?”

“Well, for one thing,” Lekha said, “let’s admit: They are quite racist. They do not like Indians. Their preferred term for us is—please don’t mind, ladies—’brown bastards.’ So if you hear that kind of language, you can just hang up the call.”

Anyone else?

“Britishers get angry,” said Nidhi. “Still, they are subtle—they’ll say something sarcastic under the breath.”

“Americans will just shout at you,” Sube said. Mittu agreed: “I have only been cursed by Americans. They are sharp-witted and very articulated and yet very free with their anger.”

It’s the biggest cultural exchange in the world. The Indians are leaning all about us. While you were worrying about the Chinese, the Indians were taking over…



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