People with disabilities are the new favourites for call centres

Adith Charlie Mumbai | Updated on December 16, 2014 Published on December 16, 2014



Lower attrition rates and greater dedication to work seen as pluses

As a call centre agent with Mumbai-based EuroAble, Virendra Singh, 28, is used to dealing with irate customers. But he was pleasantly surprised when one such customer landed at the call centre recently to hand him a greeting card.

“This particular customer was very rude to Singh because one of his complaints related to our products was not serviced in time,” explained Marzin Shroff, CEO Direct Sales and Senior Vice-President (Marketing) at consumer durables company Eureka Forbes, which runs EuroAble.

However, Singh’s calm demeanour and his technical understanding throughout the conversation surprised the customer. When he came to know that Singh was a person with a (walking) disability, he was moved and wanted to meet up,” said Shroff.

More productive

Singh and hundreds of other persons with disabilities (are the new favourites of call centre companies, for reasons ranging from lower attrition rates to higher customer satisfaction. “We have found they are more dedicated and productive than others. The attrition rate among them is also lower,” said Shruti Jain, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer at EXLService Holdings, which employs 110 such staffers in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Looking for more

The company is now looking to hire more people with disabilities in the NCR this year for transaction-based processes that involve document processing and indexing, among other things.

SM Gupta, Chief People Officer of Aegis, which is the back-office of the Essar Group, said: “The attrition rate in our industry hovers between 40 and 60 per cent because of the high-stress nature of the job. However, the churn in the persons with disabilities category is almost half of that.”

Aegis currently employs around 500 such staffers and wants to hire more so that they account for 1.75 per cent of its global staff by the end of this fiscal year, against 0.25 per cent now, he added.

Low attrition

Attrition at EuroAble, said to be India’s first call centre fully manned and operated by people with special needs, is just about 3 per cent.

Buoyed by the response to the venture, which was started in 2011, the 90-people EuroAble is now keen to expand to two other cities, where it will only hire persons with disabilities, said Shroff.

Once this happens, they will man all call-centre activities related to Eureka Forbes. Currently, the company works with a local call centre company for South Indian languages. “We are also looking at offering our service to other corporate clients, some of whom have already evinced interest,” Shroff said.

Back-office companies are paying special attention to the needs of the disabled, , including creating physical infrastructure, ensuring accessibility in the workplace and HR policies that ensure they do not face discrimination.

For instance, they are given the preference of being seated near washrooms, while lifts have special handles for them, said Gupta. Most of the hiring happens through tie-ups with NGOs or through the government’s vocational rehabilitation centres for the handicapped.

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Published on December 16, 2014
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