If you are in North East India and need to call your mobile service provider, it doesn’t matter which network you’re on or what your problem is, your call will most likely be picked up by an Anjaybee Infotech employee sitting in Guwahati, Shillong or Patna. These 1,600-odd executives handle 200,000 calls every day in 14 languages spoken across the region.
Started in 2005 by Nayanjyoti Bhattacharya, the idea behind Anjaybee was a basic business tenet: industry should be as close to its raw material source as possible. “People from the North East have played a major role in the growth of the BPO business across India. So, if the raw material is here, why not have the business here too?” asks Bhattacharya. With an initial investment of ₹50 lakh, borrowed from family and friends, Anjaybee kicked off with just 25 seats and 40 agents for its first customer, Aircel. Since then, Bhattacharya has invested around ₹17 crore, mostly from bank loans, on ramping up operations. The company clocked revenues of ₹20 crore in FY11, with gross profit margin of 15-20% and expects to have closed FY12 with a topline of ₹26 crore. Anjaybee now services almost all the major mobile service operators in the region; each Anjaybee client has a separate stand-alone building, with dedicated floors for different inbound and outbound services.
Bhattacharya says it makes perfect business sense to migrate voice-based BPO/ call centre activities from major metros to smaller towns. A call centre in Guwahati costs ₹2 lakh. However the major differentiator is operating expenses. While recurring costs in Guwahati are ₹15,000 per month, this could be as high as ₹30,000 for a similar job in Gurgaon or Bangalore. It’s easy to figure out why: salaries for agent-level jobs serving domestic and international clients are ₹5,500-7,500 in eastern India, against ₹12,000-₹18,000 in a metro. Lower rentals in smaller towns also make them more attractive destinations.
With costs under control, Bhattacharya is now working on raising realisations from the current ₹15,000 level to ₹25,000 per seat. He’s tapping new verticals such as BFSI, health and consumer durables. There are also plans to set up an office in Kolkata to tap global clients. “International clients are cagey about coming to Guwahati, citing law and order issues,” says Bhattacharya.
That isn’t the only challenge. Attrition levels are high thanks to restive young employees who would rather migrate to big cities and Anjaybee loses about 80 people every month. But it’s also easy to hire: walk-in interviews are common at the Guwahati campus and an HR team regularly visits colleges and job fairs across the North East to seek people with specific language skills. Several of Bhattacharya’s senior managers are also locals who’ve returned after spending many years in BPOs in Gurgaon and Bengaluru. “Working in your home state is emotionally satisfying,” says Paran Borah, head, operations, who’s returned after four years in Gurgaon. If Bhattacharya’s growth curve continues its current trajectory, there may be many more Borahs making their way back home.