BPO: Ground Realities

BPO Ground realities

A BPO career is today the most debated topic by the younger generation. One cannot avoid the ripples created by it. There are many perceptions and misconceptions about the BPO industry and, especially, the international voice-based call center industry. While many of the perceptions are true, there are a lot of myths as well that have little connection to actual ground realities. This article attempts to bring to light some “ground realities”.

Myth No 1: BPO is like the dotcom phenomena where all the hype is going to be short-lived.

BPO is a well-established industry built on solid infrastructure of people, processes and technology. This was the same thought in people’s minds when the IT boom started. People are still reaping the benefits of IT growth. India shot to prominence due to the software industry. Today the world recognizes India — as the ideal destination in terms of people infrastructure, quality of service and costs. According to a Nasscom report, the BPO industry is set to grow up to USD 7.3 billion in FY 2005-06 with new business segments getting added to the kitty, almost every quarter.

Myth No 2: BPO Industry is a parking lot for freshers and not a place for a long term, mature career.

The BPO industry is not a parking lot, but provides long term career growth. It encourages fresh graduates to apply. They can grow from a customer service officer to a Head of Program and above in about 4-6 years depending on performance and ability of the person. There are qualified people as well, who join at the higher levels such as Managers, VPs etc. They make lateral moves from various backgrounds such as training, hospitality, retail, customer service etc. MBAs and CA`s have also found themselves challenging profiles in this industry. The technically qualified group often gets placed in the IT helpdesks and other technical fields. Yes, the major recruitment happens at the fresher level.

Myth No 3: Career prospects are low as there isn’t much learning in the industry.

This is a big one, myth that is. The BPO industry offers direct on the job learning in a international environment in specific industry verticals or processes. Employees in the industry become experts in specific processes or in a vertical like Insurance or Retail. The BPO industry creates knowledge workers and not just process workers. The industry provides international exposure- in terms of global clients, best practices, domain knowledge and business communication skills. Employees can also look at opportunities in various fields such as project management, training, quality, Information Technology and sales.

Myth No 4: BPO Jobs are monotonous in nature.

There are people who like doing 10 different things and there are people who like to do one thing but in 10 different ways. A BPO /Call center job is for the second strata of people. A customer service officer may spend 7 hours managing transactions whether data or voice, team lead — 5 hours. Each transaction is a different experience and takes great skill to tackle issues, which could belong to a spectrum of categories. One has got to remember that a BPO is not just about attending a call or completing a transaction, but also includes various modes of customer interactions ia email, chat, etc and the nature of the job is also not always ‘real time’. This gamut is an exciting learning experience wherein people learn business communication and problem solving skills. At companies like 24/7 Customer, employees get the opportunity to make inter-departmental moves during internal promotions. People are encouraged to shift roles — Example: movement within an industry vertical in operations, operations to marketing, or training or quality. They are also provided with additional skills in that area, enabling them to grow in the organization.

Myth No 5: BPO Jobs are frustrating with the odd work hours (night shifts) for long periods of time.

Rather than leaving the industry, most youngsters are busy job-hopping due to the tremendous opportunities available within the industry. The difficulties associated with night shifts are highly exaggerated. There are people from the other industries working at nights — hotel, hospitals, banks etc. Yet people do not seem to talk about them. Also BPO companies have other functions such as finance, administration, training etc — all of which does not necessarily operate in the night.