Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) is committed to creating opportunities of equality and not preferentialism to empower the differently-enabled and integrate them into the mainstream. By leveraging its core competency and the facilities it possesses, TTSL is helping these individuals to overcome their impairment and prove their potential with the best of us.
An important component of the company’s outreach programme is training and providing employment opportunities for the differently-abled. Initiatives such as Drishti, TTSL’s association with AMBA CEEIC (Centre for Economic Empowerment of Intellectually Challenged) and AccessAbility are providing equal opportunity platforms for individuals who have the same range of skills and abilities as people without disabilities but are differently abled.
Vision of the blind
At present a total of 29 executives (all visually challenged) are engaged in making calls to TTSL customers introducing the company’s new products and services. With a target of approximately 100 calls per day during their shift from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm and earnings of around Rs3 per call made, each executive is able to earn an average of Rs4,000 to Rs5,000 every month, enabling them to sustain themselves and support their families.
To enable the executives to make these calls, TTSL’s Software Development Centre at Bangalore has developed a customised interactive voice response (IVR) system. Each executive has two telephones on their desk. A list of customers and telephone numbers is extracted from the central hub of Tata Teleservices’ CRM system and is fed into the IVR. This information can be accessed electronically via one phone, while the second phone is used to make calls. After each call, the executives feed the data collected by them – date of birth, gender and language of preference of the customer – into the system via the phone.
Further, the software records customer updates in specific formats and identifies errors and omissions made by executives, thereby taking up the responsibilities of a ‘supervisor’. It enables visually disabled executives to work as efficiently as any other customer service agent, providing the caller with guidance and help when required. A central server keeps track of calls made by each executive, as also the number of calls that result in the sale of a product or service. As compared to other call centres, a whole lot of functions which otherwise are done manually are automated with the help of this software at Drishti, blurring the boundaries between the visually challenged executives and other executives as far as professional career opportunities in the BPO sector are concerned.
Apart from technological support, a dedicated team at TTSL trains these executives on the required skills, improving their employability and opening up new avenues for them in the booming BPO industry. The team educates and mentors the executives on all aspects of their work – the product, usage of phones, soft skills like communicating politely with customers, phone etiquette, voice modulation, English speaking skills, etc. TTSL has provided special training tools such as a script in Braille and recorded audiotapes with conversations between customers and agents; these are used by Drishti employees to practice ideal responses to customer calls.
The National Association for the Blind and Blind Relief Association extend their support by providing work space for the call centres, spreading awareness and sharing their employee database with TTSL. TTSL, on the other hand, provides resources such as furniture, phones, air-conditioners, etc as well as shoulders the responsibility of training.
Out of the applications received, potential candidates are selected on the basis of their communication skills in Hindi and English. The general background of applicants depict candidates in the age group of 20 to 40 years, coming from low-income, needy families with most of them being the sole bread earners. All of them have passed standard 12, some are graduates and some are still pursuing their studies along with their job at Drishti.
Having won accolades like the TEMA National Telecom Award for excellence in connecting people with disability and the Mrs Pilloo Dorab Khambatta Memorial Award for 2007 as ‘Best Employer of Blind Persons’, TTSL aims at expanding the Drishti initiative in order to touch more lives and make a substantial difference. A third such call center is under consideration in TTSL’s Uttar Pradesh (West) circle in partnership with the National Institute of the Visually Challenged.
TTSL and AMBA CEEIC
AMBA CEEIC, established by Sugandha Sukrutaraj, aims at holistically enabling the intellectually challenged adult community through economic empowerment. The organisation imparts functional learning to these individuals (who cannot go through formal education) with the help of a learning model that helps them to grasp alphabets, numbers and words as objects, and trains them in data entry operations using a computer. The collective abilities are then used to undertake low-skill back office work from mainstream companies.
TTSL’s Bangalore and Delhi circles are the first organisations to have given the AMBA CEEIC youngsters the opportunity to do their back office work which includes dispatching receipts / bills for their post-paid customers. This opportunity has helped AMBA CEEIC showcase the brilliance of these youngsters to the world and has enabled them to get work from other organisations as well like the Indian Air force, Special Olympics, Intel and Microsoft.
Given the opportunity of specific and innovative guidance coupled with loads of patience, AMBA is convinced that this community can collectively excel in what they do with integrity, diligence and abundant ability, meeting the requirements of accuracy, deadlines and all the mainstream standards specified.
And so is TTSL. Having experienced excellent service without any concession from the youngsters of AMBA CEEIC for its two circles, the company is looking at outsourcing work to all the 24 AMBA CEEIC centres across India.
TTSL and AccessAbility
TTSL joined hands with AccessAbility to set up a 4ft x 4ft small kiosk in its cafeteria in the Delhi circle, giving employment to Deepak, who is hearing impaired. AccessAbility is a non-profit organisation that provides immediate jobs and training to people who are willing to work but, due to serious personal challenges, are in need of support to succeed.
A proud and satisfied Deepak says, "I'm content now. I'm able to support my family with my income from TTSL. TTSL has become my second home. I cannot imagine a life outside of it!"
Close to its core service of providing ‘connectivity’ and bridging distances, TTSL’s outreach programme has helped these individuals walk that extra mile to bridge the distance between their ability and disability, bringing out the best in them for the world to see.