Tuesday, September 18, 2012

US daily deals site Groupon may set up customer support centre in Chennai


Groupon Inc, based in President Obama's hometown Chicago, is testing the waters to set up a customer support centre in Chennai, ignoring the anti-outsourcing noises that have surrounded the hotly-contested presidential election in the United States.

The daily deals site, which sells discount coupons of local merchants, is experimenting with the suitability of Chennai as a base to run email-based services to support its subscribers in the United States and Canada, senior executives of the company said. Groupon, a former internet darling whose business model is now under fire, has some 400 customer service executives based in Chicago.
Its Chennai plans were first reported by technology magazine Wired.

Despite Obama's strident anti-sourcing rhetoric in his reelection campaign against Republican Mitt Romney, top American corporations have been choosing India for its deep pool of relatively inexpensive talent.

In recent weeks Facebook, Amazon, Xerox and chipmaker AMD are among companies which have leased office space in Bangalore and Hyderabad as a precursor to hiring thousands of professionals.

Chennai-born Kalyana Raman Srinivasan, a senior Indian technology executive who recently took over Groupon's day-to-day operations from founder and chief executive Andrew Mason, is said to be driving operational changes to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Company's sales headcount has fallen after he started implementing changes.

"The company has been under tremendous pressure in the US. It is not surprising that it plans to move jobs to India," said Kris Lakshmikanth, chief executive at staffing firm Headhunters. Lakshmikanth added that Groupon is looking for real estate in Chennai for starting its customer support services unit.



US daily deals site Groupon may set up customer support centre in Chennai


Groupon shares have fallen by 80% since its listing-day high of $31 last November. However, in the last two trading sessions on Nasdaq, Groupon shares gained at least 8% and 10% each.

Groupon revenue in 2011 was $1.6 billion.

A United States-based spokeswoman for the company said that she would wait till there is more information available to share before making an official statement on the Chennai plans.

"Our Chennai-based customer service team provides one-to-one support to our United States and Canadian subscribers via email, playing a vital role in directly impacting the reputation of Groupon," a job posting on Groupon website said. "The people that match well to our CS team have high degrees of empathy, patience, resourcefulness, and web savvy."

Ankur Warikoo, chief executive at Crazeal, the Indian arm of Groupon, confirmed that Groupon was building a customer service team in Chennai. Warikoo said the Chennai centre will be directly managed by Groupon US and would not be part of its Indian arm.

Crazeal competes with Snapdeal and Mydala, and ranks second in India based on marketshare.

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