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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Get your accent right.

I have been to several of these call centers back in 2003 when I was helping someone acquire a call center in India. These are excellent establishments with state of the art equipment. I even attended some of the training session where the agents were instructed on keyboard and phone etiquettes.

I noticed something then and a lot many times afterwards when I call my bank or tech. support. I have even heard these from my colleagues. There are two very annoying things:

1. NAME. Pick a simple name and be aware you are not picking a name that belongs to a prominent western figure of the past or present. Please do not pick a name like Abraham Lincoln or George Washington or Tom Cruise.

2. ACCENT. Most important. Every American today who makes a support call knows its going to India and prepares to hear an Indian accent. What surprises is when the call is responded - an accent that is neither Indian nor American with a painfully swirled tongue and chewed up words.

Three very simple advise -

1. Speak slow (Indians traditionally speak faster than their counterparts in the western world).

2. Use neutral accent. Do not try putting American accent this can backfire, unless you are really good and know it. If you don't get it right, this can offend the caller or you will not make much sense.

3. Pay attention to syllables and pronunciation of words

You might say how do I know this. Indian immigrant myself - been there done that!