Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Outsourcing To India - Been There, Done That, Would Consider it Again, Maybe

Time certainly flies when you're having fun. In about 2 and a half months I will have been at this company for 4 years (my last post was almost 3 and a half years ago). I ended up doing the outsourcing thing (a blended model of US agents and their outsourced counterparts in India)  for about a year and a half,  which was great because I got to go back to New Delhi/Noida for a second visit. But I ultimately terminated the partnership, which was quite a bummer since I really liked the people on the team, and the visits.

Funny thing is, I haven't seen the inside of a call center since my last visit to India in 2008 because all of my current agents are home-based.

Overall my experience with outsourcing was positive. The company we used was huge - locations all over India (something like 20 building alone in New Delhi/Noida) and in Europe, but they treated my small project with a ton of attention and effort. Yes, I'd say "effort" is the key word. The whole group worked very hard. Any criticisms or suggestions were acted on immediately. During my two visits there they fell over all themselves with hospitality and graciousness.

There were definitley a few problems though. The group was handling contacts that could basically be described as email (no phone), but the replies that the group had to compose had to be original, humorous at times, and have a kind of casual, upbeat tone. They weren't always successful with that. Understanding US cultural references was sometimes difficult, and their tone was sometimes stiff and awkward. But again, the effort was always there.

In the end I decided to go with strictly US home-based agents (for several reasons), but I will NEVER forget India or the people I met there. I really hope I make it back some day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I made it to India

Friends, it has been a long time since I've posted. A few changes have come about.

I finally made it to India. This past March I traveled to Delhi to train a group that is handling the part of the business that I oversee. I have finally seen an Indian call center from the inside out.

I spent about 17 days there and let me tell you it was mind-blowing. Here's a picture of the Taj Mahal that I took. I'll be going back soon, but in the mean time will post some of my first-hand findings/views on outsourcing to India.

The second big change/event I discovered when I turned to the Editor's Page of the latest edition of Call Center Magazine to find that Keith Dawson has split. This is not good news. It seemed to me that while he was Editorial Director the magazine finally became worthwhile (see my post on Call Center Literature/shiterature). CCSCDM will be keeping a close eye on this new development. Will Susan Hash make a hash-job of the project? Will CCM sink back to the status of a call center products catalog?

And last, but not least, what the hell is Anonymous Cog up to?????

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Epilogue - And Brand New Beginning

No picture to post on this entry, but some very good news (good news for me, at least. I know you could care less). I started a new job almost one month to the day that I got laid off. The interesting thing to me is that the job that I ultimately accepted (and which paid a little less but with a Director title) is not a traditional call center job (the other job would have been starting up a small call center and fulfillment operation). There are no inbound phone, email, click-to-chat, or IM contacts at this new place. There are inbound contacts - they're just not ordinary contacts. But the ordinary element about them is that they are subject to all the regular call center metrics and call center management techniques etc. In fact, we're running a test with a company in India to see if outsourcing is a viable option to handle some of these contacts. So I'll be spending some time soaking in the Ganges in March. Can't wait to blog and post some pictures. I've already ordered an updated copy of Call Center Management On Fast Forward since I hear that it addresses more email-related stuff that I might be able to apply to my particular situation. Anyway, if you've got any good call center tips, comments, observations, sure-fire schemes, or off-color jokes for me, email me at

Monday, January 01, 2007

Game Over

Well that's it. I was laid off on Thursday along with everyone else in the call center. The HR person was very nice. I don't think she noticed the Abattoir sign or the Woody Allen photo. We had a party after she left, and it was a real barn-burner. We had beer, wings, and a pinata filled with candy and cigarettes. And things are looking pretty good job-wise. I'm pretty sure that I'll have a couple of offers by the end of the week. But I'm going to miss the old job quite a bit. I'm going to miss a couple of the people terribly. And someday I'll tell you what happened to the snack machine.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Preparing the Execution Chamber

Six days left - but only two business days! It's an odd feeling to know that this is the last Friday I'll ever sit at this desk.

One of the good things about knowing well in advance that I'm going to be terminated is that I can set the stage where the terminations will be taking place. The person who will be letting all of us go is coming in from another part of the country and I have taken the liberty of modifying the room where it will all go down.

First, I have made the room look as sparse and empty as possible. There is no computer and no phone, no plants - just three chairs around an empty desk. I don't want the Executioner to be able to rest his/her eyes on anything other than the termin-ee or a blank wall.

Second, I have added two small things that will probably go unnoticed: above the door to the room I have hung a sign that says "The Abattoir" (it looks larger in the picture than it actually is). That's a fancy word for Slaughterhouse.

I also hung a small picture of Woody Allen walking with Death from the movie Love & Death. Other than that the walls are bare. A little bit of gallows humor to help the agents through.

Now, on to the contest. I guess I am not that surprised by the lack of entries in the CCSCDM contest. I don't want to come off as mean-spirited, but I think it has something to do with the prize. So I'm going to throw in two more items to sweeten the pot. The first is MY headset. Yes, CCCM was always prepared to jump into the fray if call volumes got out of control. So if you are the first one with the correct answer, you'll receive my Plantronics monaural headset. This item will be signed and is suitable for display. The second is the package of Pop Tarts from the snack machine. That's right, CCCM will apply his considerable strength to jar the Pop Tarts from their current resting place. If this doesn't get the contest ball rolling, I don't know what will. Maybe some more clues? Here's that email address again

Monday, December 18, 2006

10.5 Days to go - Interview Fever!

No winners yet in the first annual CCSCDM contest. We've had quite a few submissions here, but everyone has been wide of the mark. I'm kidding, of course, because no one reads this except me, and my Brother-in-Arms Anonymous Cog (and occasionally my wife if she's bored). So, no submissions yet.

I have had several interviews over the past weeks and things are looking pretty good. And when I say "pretty good," I mean that I'm getting pretty good at pretending that December 28 will never arrive. One thing I love about interviewing is a phenomenon I call "Interview Fever". This is condition manifests itself in several ways (none of them good).

Severe memory loss is the most common symptom for me. I call this the "Tabula Rasa", or Blank Slate phenomenon. In a recent interview I was trying to show what a know-it-all I am by citing a piece Keith Dawson did in which he mentions call centers in Egypt. As I began to launch into my convoluted answer to a question about offshoring, Interview Fever took hold and I could barely recall my mother's name, let alone Keith Dawson's. And the point of the article I was citing went flying from my mind. But I ploughed ahead and managed to garble, drool, and hem-and-haw my way through. My interviewer's expression plainly said "What was that all about? What do ancient Egyptians have to do with call centers?"

Blurting out things that you know will not further your cause is another symptom of Interview Fever. I call this phenomenon "Ack!" - as in the sound a cat makes when it coughs up a furball. I once had a panel inteview for an inbound call center manager job - I sat around a table with about eight people and they each asked one question from a sheet, and then moved on to the next person. About an hour into the torture, one of the panel members asked me what my values were. My mind was mush at this point, and I struggled mightily with the answer, and after stammering out a few things, I said, "I don't know - peace, love and understanding? Ack!?" I definitely saw a couple of smirks as certain members of the panel reveled in my discomfort.

A more insidious Interview Fever phenomenon is called "Elvis Has Left the Building". This occurs when the interviewer begins a rather complicated question and about 1/3 into the question (which will make or break the interview), I involuntarily begin to ponder some random mystery of the universe, or some random event from my life 20 years ago. Then I'll tune back in to the question just in time to catch the last sentence. So as I drift from wondering why Tommy Crumley punched Bobby O'Halloran in the eye in 7th grade French class, back to "...given those set of circumstances, how would you address that issue?", a dull panic sets in; I haven't heard the question, and it was so long that I couldn't possibly ask the interviewer to repeat it. At that point I have only one option: First I give the interviewer a full Tabula Rasa. Then I follow it with a resounding "Ack!". And that, my friends, is how I avoid the painfully embarassing predicament of being offered a job.

Friday, December 15, 2006

13 Days Left - Contest Time! Great Prize!

Thirteen days left before we're shut down. I want to have the first annual Call Center Steel Cage Death Match contest. Here is the contest question and the prize:

Guess what city Cogitating Call Center Manager works in? (prize: signed copy of "Not By the Seat of My Pants.." When I say 'signed', I mean signed by CCCM)

Here are the very obscure (i.e. Google won't help you here) clues:


the Basement


boat under train under car under plane


So that's it. I originally had three questions, but given the short time we have left here, I decided to limit it to just the one.

If you're as astutely Cogitating as Cogitating Call Center Manager, email your answer to I'll respond if you are the first one with the correct answer and I'll send off your grand prize.

By the way, this picture is not of my center (mine are the sepia-toned masterpieces). This looks more like it's in Pelican Bay (that is something you can Google).