Recommendations for Increased Productivity: Mumbai Call Center
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MUMBAI, INDIA CALL CENTER: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY
Submitted to: Sharon Johnson, Vice President
On July 14, 2005
Submitted by: Justin Sheets, Operations Director
At your request, I have investigated the circumstances behind the diminished call capacity, operational mistakes, and customer complaints originating out of the call center in Mumbai, India. As internal records detail, these issues have continued to affect the call center and remain unmitigated despite recent managerial reorganization. While the problem of employee productivity remains in the forefront, it is important to note that the issue is systemic of much larger issues relating to the workplace and current company guidelines.
To that end, I have investigated other variables that may be affecting the call center. Much of the research gathered has focused on similar situations at other foreign-based corporations housing local operations in the greater Mumbai area. Additional information was obtained through Change Management Consulting & Training, LLC (CMCT), a firm that specializes in providing assessment of organizational culture as well as the integration of business management and cross-cultural training in foreign settings.
ASSESSING THE IMPACT ON THE MUMBAI CALL CENTER
One of the main issues affecting the reduced productivity in the call center has been the high rate of turnover in the office. Company statistics indicate that turnover rates at the call center have averaged 22 percent in the six month period that the call center has been operating. This alone is cause for concern, as the center is often operating with a reduced workforce as well as increasingly diverting the resources of the staff towards training new hires.
According to the Associated Press, India could be running a deficit of skilled workers in the range of one quarter of one million in the next four years (Srinivasan). It is imperative that the Mumbai call center retain as many skilled workers as possible in order to function effectively.
The turnover rate is especially burdensome on the call center; however there are other issues which are not mutually exclusive in regards to company policy and, in fact, appear to be acting as a catalyst for the high turnover (see below).
The Mumbai call center is operating on rules and regulations that were frame worked around American cultural and business standards. It is important to note that while India remains a vibrant market for economic development, the creation of basic public infrastructure to meet these needs, most notably healthcare, has failed to keep pace with growth in many areas including Mumbai. In many portions of the country, access to professional physicians is limited if not impossible. “Because the public service is so undependableeven the poorest turn to private doctors or traditional healers 79 percent of the time, spending 7 percent of their monthly budget on medical care. Four out of 10 private doctors surveyed had no medical degree” (Dugger). This presents a problem for workers who have a legitimate sickness but lack documentation by a physician. Additionally, aspects of traditional eastern medicine are considered tantamount to western treatment and are considered a much more cost-effective solution. Current company guidelines require workers to furnish documentation of illness, a policy that fails to take into account these additional factors.
Navigating throughout the greater Mumbai area proves difficult. Often there are long periods of traffic congestion. Additionally, the public transportation system remains unreliable and quite often an ineffective means of travel.
“Inadequate roads and a shortage of hotel rooms in Bangalore; power shortages in Delhi; traffic jams in Mumbai; a general shortage in overseas flight connections and high telecommunications costs are causing deep concerns… Shortcomings in the environment are hurting company bottom lines by 1 to 2 percent annually” (Rai).
As a result, employees frequently arrive to the call center late for their scheduled shift. Current policy is quite strict regarding tardiness and the repercussions are extreme for workers who do not arrive on time.
Management styles differ greatly between the United States and India. It is important to understand these subtleties and be proactive in developing a flourishing workplace environment. Principally, the manager and employee relationship is especially important. While workers in the United States tend to value mutual respect; “This can create a mismatch for employees from India, for whom a more quasi-paternal relationship is more the norm” (Schomer).
Current strategies for increasing performance are linked to monetary gain. Alternately, “With employees from India, personal loyalty, company prestige and appeal to authority can be effective” (Schomer) in motivating employees.