Saturday, April 28, 2012


Madhuri from the TV show Outsourced... worth a watch

The other day I got to see what it is really like on the inside of an infamous Indian call centre. I was expecting some crazy loud place with all sorts of hoohaa going on and about a million people working there. But this was not the case, at least not in this particular call centre. It was a small, quiet place with about 30 cubicles sparsely furnished with just a computer and a phone on the desks and no pictures on the bland walls.

As it turned out, the reason I thought I was there was not the real reason I was there for at all. It all started when a linguistics company put out a call for Australians in Delhi to take part in a training session teaching Indian call centre workers to understand the Australian vernacular. They were to send a taxi to pick me up and drop me home and would pay me a reasonable amount for my time. So I thought, why not.

So I rock up to the building that housed the call centre and I go through some crazy security. All phones, iPods, cameras and memory sticks have to be locked in a locker and bags are left in the security office… I guess they don't want me nicking the data from all their calls to Australian households at dinner time.

So I meet the person I am to be working with and I am given my 'script'. Basically it is one of those typical questionnaires they run through over the phone when you are actually doing a survey, the only difference is my survey had all the answers filled in. At this point I am thinking something fishy is going on. I am given a run through of all the questions, the set answers and how to answer questions that require more than a yes or a no answer. Finally, I am told to be myself and answer the questions as any Australian would...Okay.

I am then taken to a small room outside the call centre and handed a mobile phone. A man is with me to supervise my 'performance'.
The phone rings and I answer it. I feel like I am back in Australia receiving a typical survey call from an Indian call centre. The person on the other end says his spiel, including the line 'this call may be recorded for training purposes' by now I know I am not here to educate call centre workers in the understanding of the Australian vernacular.
So, the survey is underway and I spend about half an hour answering the questions, as instructed, getting the occasional thumbs up from my supervisor. By the time the survey is over I have a few possibilities forming in my head as to why they need me to do this… all are dodgy-
Recreating lost recordings
Making up data
Skewing data to suit a purpose
Or, were they not able to get anyone to answer such a long-winded boring survey so they had to make it up?

Frankly, I though it best not to ask any questions; firstly because of all the security and secondly because I wouldn't mind being invited back… not because I want to be involved in dodgy dealings, just because I am intrigued and I could do with the cash.

I have so many thoughts and questions but I doubt any will be answered…
I wonder how many other Australians in Delhi have participated.
I imagine I am getting paid more for my 1 hour of work than the call centre workers are paid for 2 or more days. Is it really worth it for them to pay me a relatively large sum for a half hour recording?
I wonder what the Australian company that commissioned the survey would think if they knew? Do they know? Does this happen all the time?

A few hours later, back at home, I get a call. They left off one of the questions from the survey off the script, could they record it now? Sure. They tell me what to answer and ask me the question. I answer and they hang-up.

Well okay then

1 comment:

Priya Kundu said...

awesome post! i love this! for gifts for men and women visit at:-