For the past three years, [Bhumika] Chaturvedi has been a top collection agent at
her call center, phoning hundreds of Americans a day and politely
asking them to pay up. As the U.S. financial crisis plunges Americans
into debt, her business is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Indian
outsourcing. It is also one of the few sectors of outsourcing in India
that is still hiring aggressively.
By the way:
India handles an estimated $16 billion — or about 5 percent — of delinquent U.S. accounts
The responses are numerous:
"My mortgage payments are just too high, honey. I just can’t make the
payment this month," a weeping woman with a Southern accent recently
told her in response to a call for a $200 credit card payment. "I’m
sure y’all heard about the credit crunch and gas prices. I’m flat
I wonder what the Indian bill collector thinks in these moments. Has anyone tried saying: "Pay up. My aunt earns $1300 a year and pays 80 percent interest on her microcredit loans"? Probably not. In fact the strategy is the opposite:
Aparup Sengupta, global chief executive officer and managing director
of Aegis, encourages his debt collectors to use a "hospitable Indian
touch," meaning less arm-twisting and more emotional therapy.
"This business is a performing art," Sengupta said. "We are part
therapists because the core of the issue is that every human being
wants to be honorable in life. We don’t just push someone into a bad
situation. We try to create a real solution."
Decorating the office are dozens of yellow smiley faces with the
words, "Happy People. Happy Customers. Happy Investors," along with
other posters that read: "Connect and Collect."
If I owed money I would simply stop answering the phone.