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    The trained workforce is part of India's teething Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry, where about half-a-dozen young firms are discovering the goldmine created by the Internet.

    Armed with an abundance of English-speaking graduates and cheap labor, the CRM firms are becoming favorites for U.S. e-commerce giants to outsource their customer support services.

    "The critical resource in the entire Internet economy is people ... and with a large number of businesses going online in the United States, demand for support services is outstripping supply," said Prakash Gurbaxani, chief executive of 24/7 Pvt Ltd.

    Earlier this year, Gurbaxani set up 24/7 to cater to this demand and the company now employs nearly 400 graduates in Bangalore.

    In a year's time, that number is expected to swell to 1,000 as India's information technology enabled services industry -- which includes CRM, transcriptions and call centers -- is forecast to generate $17 billion in sales and 1.1 million jobs by 2008 from $520 million in sales and 45,000 jobs currently.

    Industry officials said that besides low labor costs and an abundance of talent, India has some cultural advantages over other parts of the English-speaking world in the CRM industry.

    "Unlike in the West, we don't have a mass holiday concept. So we can service clients during holiday seasons when it is most difficult to get people to work in the West," said K. Ganesh, chief executive of CustomerAsset.Com Pvt Ltd.

    Ganesh said that a Yankee Group study found that over 67 percent of transactions contemplated on the Internet are abandoned due to lack of customer support or help.

    "Some e-tailers got back to Christmas shoppers in February and told them they did not have the products that were ordered," he said.

    "While CRM excecutives cost about half of what they cost in the United States, we must point out that we are not dingy sweatshops where hundreds of Indians are crowded into a garage," said Ganesh who quit a global telecom firm to start CustomerAsset.

    CRM industry officials say young executives are fully trained about products and services of the clients they are assigned to and get to work in the most comfortable office settings in India.

    Indian workers, already proficient in English, are trained to master phrases, accents and customer habits to match U.S. needs.

    The e-CRM companies also use specialized CRM software from firms such as Kana Communications Inc (KANA) or India's Talisma Corp. that sifts information to help support staff.

    Sanjeev Aggarwal, chief executive officer of, told Reuters that the CRM business requires very high uptime, which he considered a key bottleneck to Indian growth.

    "What gives me nightmares is telecoms," he said, adding that his company had backup systems like a private leased circuit to ensure constant connectivity.

    Thank you for posting this rivkz. A very interesting and relevant topic.

    I am temporarily closing this to seek advice as to which forum this should be in. Be patient I will get back to you on this.


    [This message has been edited by Mursalin (edited November 29, 2000).]


      Is the temporary closure over?

      As stated above, the telecoms aspect is crucial for CRM call centre support and specially so in the South Asian region. As a user/client, the last thing I want is not to be able to get through to the call centre or to be kept on hold for ages because the call centre is not "right sized" - not an easy job, BTW.