Peter Drucker famously said,
"I never predict. I just look out the window and see what’s visible—but not yet seen."
Looking out of the window at the current call centre/back office (which I will call BPO for the sake of convenience) boom in India, I think there are a few things that are visible but not yet seen or maybe seen and ignored.
- A large number of freshly minted college graduates are getting into BPO outfits as their first jobs, many of them with science and engineering degrees too.
- They are all trained in basic customer support etiquette as well as in the specific areas in which they provide customer support
- They are all working in an environment that has proper systems and quality controls in place and sets high quality standards. They are gaining experience in frontline customer support and an appreciation of how important customer support is to the business.
- Most BPO employees have little or no opportunity for more intellectually stimulating work or even upward mobility in the call centre business and their work is mostly monotonous.
- The BPO companies pay fresh graduates much more than any other industry/sector today
- Some of the BPO employees are using a short stint in the industry as a means of making money to fund their higher education and leave for higher studies as soon as they possibly can.
- The Indian BPO model is itself susceptible to threats over the longer term from other countries with lower cost manpower resources.
- There is emerging a huge pool of BPO employees with a few years of experience, stuck with little or no growth prospects and ready to look for new pastures and this pool is only likely to grow.
What could BPO employees with a few years of experience possibly do in other areas (with appropriate training of course)? Or to put it differently, are there any possible businesses that can tap into this pool of BPO employees with a few years of experience to maximum benefit? Of course, all established businessed in India can tap into this pool to improve their customer support and satisfaction level resulting in an overall increase in the quality of service. I'm looking at totally new opportunities.
Here are a couple of ideas.
- Tech customer support firms (aiming to service needs of SMES) along the lines of the Tech 7-11s that Rajesh is proposing
- Firms providing support solutions to homes ranging from bill payments, repairs and maintenance on call (plumbing, electrical, carpentry etc.), home deliveries of essential items (milk, groceries, newspapers etc.) and other such services.
Both of the above would be targeting the large domestic market rather than the export markets. Are there already any businesses like these in operation (I don't know of any and would be interested to hear of any if they're already around)?