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Outsourcing irritation

As student of economics, let me make a frontal declaration: I favour outsourcing. However, in the Indian context, I find that it virtually absolves responsibility of both parties – one that seeks outsourcing and the other that does the actual work. Let me also hasten to add a caveat: perhaps an old man like me could be out of sync with the modern times. While cost cutting is the in thing today, cutting on services has been its unintended consequence. Here is my first hand experience with outsourcing, which could well be an exception, not the rule.

“Hello,” said the sweet voice at the other end and before I could react it went on “If you want a new connection please press 1, if you want to …” I understood. It was an automated response to the call office of my cellular service provider. As the recorder placed a plethora of options before me, I was perplexed. My range of complaints on my new cell connection meant that I virtually engaged every option. As I remained frozen in deep contemplation; the answering machine on its own diverted the call to the customer care officer. Some help for a beleaguered soul, I thought. The mellifluous music, while on hold, seemed to shorten the 17 minutes wait for the officer. “This is Mohan sir from customer care. How can I help you?” Repeated answering seems to have taken its toll as he went about in a mechanical manner. “See I have a problem with my bill and,” I began elaborating. “Please ring our toll free number 1600,” Mohan went on adding another 8 or 10 numbers. “Slowly let me take down,” I pleaded as I reached out to a pen, which as luck would have it had run dry. The pencil was, you guessed it right, blunt. “But surely you are the service provider and I am sure you can help me,” I said remonstratively. “Billing is not out focal area of our operations sir, we have outsourced it,” said Mohan as he slammed down the phone. He was service personified.

After hours of trying the 24 hour toll free number, a young lady over there informed me that they were only in-charge of preparing and posting monthly bills. “Sir you need to contact the agency which gave you the connection. This issue is not our focal area of operations.” After some effort, I reached out to the vendor as suggested. “What’s your problem sir,” enquired the person over there. As I began indicating my problem, the person at the other end butted in “This issue does not fall within our focal area of operations. We merely process applications for new connections. We have strictly followed the guidelines issued by the service provider. I am sorry sir, but we cannot help. You need to contact the service provider. By the way who directed you here?” I was livid and felt that I was a football kicked around. All these meant firms outsource responsibilities, not processes, as I understood till date. I instructed the service provider through a fax to disconnect my connection pronto.

Disconnection gave me instant relief. Not having a cell suddenly seemed to give me some space. Oh, how good it is to return to the simple old days. Consequently my thoughts returned and I realised that I would be savings on cell bills. Why not start a recurring deposit on the bill money saved, I thought as I reached out to the neighbour bank. The PRO gave me a shock of my life. “Sir under know your customer norms prescribed by RBI, there is a number of formalities that needs to be completed. Since this is not the focal area of our operations, we have outsourced them. You call 1600..” I rushed out of the bank. By now I knew I would be sucked into a black hole. While walking back home the words “not our focal area of operations” seemed to haunt me. Is knowing ones customers and sorting out their inconvenience not the focal area of operations of business organisations? More importantly, I want to start a society for prevention of cruelty to customers by outsourcing businesses. Anyone who has been a victim of outsourcing viz., cell phones bills; credit card statements, E-tickets, E-bookings, customer loans et all can join me here. Any takers?

Last modified on Sunday, 07 July 2013 07:36