The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Call centres draw fresh blood
- Firms bullish, eye options beyond US under outsourcing ban cloud

The final word from GE Capital is yet to reach Writers’ Buildings and Wipro Spectramind has just kicked off construction activity in Saltlec. Nonetheless, the call-centre industry in the city has started showing signs of hitting the growth path.

The major players in the two-year-old industry — billed as a sector to watch out for — in the city are drawing up expansion plans and are busy recruiting people.

“We kicked off operations last October with 60 people and have already ramped up resources to 160. Business flow from abroad is good, and we are clearly in expansion mode,” asserts Rahul Todi of Convergence Contact Centre (CCC). The five-month-old company will cross $100,000 in revenues by March-end and is setting a target of $1 million by 2004.

Despite fears that some US states may pass legislation on banning outsourcing, the mood is “bullish” in companies like BNK e-Solutions, Vishnu Solutions and Manjushree Infotech.

According to Todi, the cost savings — from 30 to 60 per cent — that outsourcing entails, will drive US firms to outsource from India. But, all the firms admit they are looking beyond the US market, exploring options in Europe, Australia and Canada.

“Ours is a 120-seater centre and we have 180 people on our rolls. We expect to double that number within the next three months,” says Major Partha Burman of BNK e-Solutions, one of the first business process outsourcing companies in Calcutta, which operates from Salt Lake and works on a 24-by-seven basis.

“In general, Calcuttans speak neutral English. So one has to spend less time for accent neutralisation with a Calcutta kid than with someone from Bangalore or Delhi. That’s why all the major players, like GE Capital and Daksh, source their manpower requirements from Calcutta,” says Deepankar Ghosh of Manjushree Infotech, part of the $1.2-billion B.K. Birla Group of companies.

Vishnu Solutions is also doubling its capacity — from 120 to 240 — and is scouting for a bigger office. “We have recorded profits in just a year. Initially, the growth was sluggish due to a number of reasons, like lack of infrastructure and companies not quite willing to offload their work to us. But things are improving,” confirms Aditya Bajoria.

The standard compensation package in the industry for a fresher, just out of college, ranges from Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000, besides other performance-linked incentives. Add to that swank interiors and flexible working hours, and call centres in town seem well and truly on the fast track.

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