Delhi/Bengaluru, India, March 25, 2020 -- As the coronavirus pandemic pushes India into a lockdown, the call centres and information technology services firms that function as the world's back office are struggling to piece together work-from-home solutions and other business-continuity plans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered 1.3 billion Indians to stay at home for 21 days to stem the spread of SARS-CoV-2, following earlier lock-down orders in many cities and states.
As of Tuesday, India had reported over 500 cases of the virus and nine deaths. Many of the companies that provide business services such as call centres, IT services and business process automation were not prepared for work-for-home arrangements, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees of several companies.
That raises questions about whether one of the country's showpiece industries can function smoothly amid the coronavirus crisis.
"The industry has been scrambling to set up its own business continuity plan," said R Chandrashekhar, a retired central government official and a former president of IT services lobby group Nasscom.
In the tech hub of Bengaluru, an employee working at a JPMorgan call centre said that until last Friday, her managers had repeatedly declined staffers' pleas to work from home.
"Even if I am infected with the virus, I know the death rate for young people isn't very high, but I am very very scared that I might transfer it to family," she said on condition of anonymity, as she is not authorised to speak to the media.
Sponsor message - content continues below this message
2021 '16th annual' Global Contact Center World Awards CLOSING SOON!
Enter your Center, Strategy, Technology Innovation, People and more into the ONLY TRULY GLOBAL awards program - regarded by many as being like the Olympics for the Contact Center World! Join the best from over 50 nations and compete for the most prestigious awards out there! Join the FREE Webinar
Content continues ….
After a state government order, JPMorgan on Sunday asked its Bengaluru staff to "stay at home until further notice", according to a message to employees, reviewed by news agency Reuters. In some cases, companies must seek client permission before allowing employees to work on sensitive projects outside the office, a senior human resources executive at a top Indian IT firm said of working remotely
"These days the challenge is not really the technology, the challenge is the regulations, and, in case something goes wrong, who's going to take the responsibility," the person said on condition of anonymity.
The country's software services firms, led by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys, gained prominence by giving Western clients low-cost solutions to routine computer problems.
Over time, they assumed a major role at many global companies. Three employees of mid-sized IT services firm Mphasis, in the city of Pune, said they were all being asked to come to the office until last Friday, even as some expressed concerns about working in close proximity with roughly 90 other people.
Maharashtra had imposed restrictions on private company employees going to offices in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. But it made exemptions for essential services including some IT companies.
During the past week, security guards barred employees from venturing outside one of the Mphasis offices in Pune to avoid attracting the police, fearing a forced shutdown, two employees said, declining to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.
One said a human resources executive told him not to wear a mask as it would "panic people who come to work".
As Maharashtra enforced a curfew starting Monday, some Mphasis employees were being asked to remain home this week, even though they lacked equipment such as laptops, the employees said. Mphasis said in a statement that not all its staff were working remotely
But the company said it was speaking with clients and trying to enable as many people as possible to work from home while ensuring employee safety.
An employee of French teleservices provider Teleperformance on the outskirts of Delhi said his company had been reluctant to let staff work from home
But he said employees were finally told on Sunday that the company would begin installing corporate desktop computers at their homes after a wider lockdown in several cities. JPMorgan and Teleperformace did not respond to requests for comment.
The home ministry, in guidelines issued on Tuesday, advised states to exempt essential IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) from the national lockdown.
Nasscom said several states had listed IT and e-commerce among essential services that are exempt.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
ContactCenterWorld is The Global Association for Contact Center & Customer Engagement Best Practices. Today we have over 205,000 corporate 'individual' members have joined the association's website 'ContactCenterWorld.com'. We were established in 1999.
Published: Friday, March 27, 2020
Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.
Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.
PH: +1 (512) 333 4634
UniCloud™ is an intuitive platform that allows Enterprises to deploy and manage their Unified Communication (UC) and Contact Center (CC) services with ease and entire provisioning can be completed in seconds using this comprehensive tool supporting digital transformation. The latest release 7.0 of UniCloud™ is a multi-tenant platform that transforms the delivery, management, and integration of collaboration and contact center solutions, for both Cloud and On-Premise deployment models.
With its single-pane-of-glass views and quick provisioning tool, UniCloud™ is instrumental in reducing the time to provision an entire multi-cluster Cisco collaboration platform, including contact centers (C...
PH: (+61) 406 501 368
SPEED & PLUS
The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.
Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.
Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.
*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Perfor...