A Kisan Call Center consists of a complex of telecommunication infrastructure, computer support and human resources organized to manage effectively and efficiently the queries raised by farmers instantly in the local language. Mainly, Subject Matter Specialists (SMSs) using telephone and computer, interact with farmers to understand the problem and answer the queries at a Call Centre.
This is a functional area within an organization like Research Stations, ATICs, KVKs Agricultural Colleges, or an outsourced, where separate facilities exist solely to answer inbound calls or make outbound telephone calls, to resolve the queries of pending calls. Usually it refers to a sophisticated voice operations center that provides a full range of inbound or outbound call handling services including customer support, direct assistance, multi-lingual customer support and other services.
This is a new dimension in Agriculture Extension Management, which takes account of, and makes full use of on-going information and communication revolution, by optimally utilizing the communication bandwidth to serve the farming community in remotest areas of the country by connecting them to best of the agricultural scientific community. This is an important value multiplier for the existing extension mechanisms, which find it otherwise difficult (in terms of infrastructure and finances) to reach their desired clientele. This will enable establishment of close linkages and seamless communication mechanism among the key stakeholders in the extension system namely Agricultural Scientists, Extension Functionaries, Farmers and Marketing Agencies.
The Kisan Call Center is a synthesis of two hitherto separate technologies namely, the Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and the Agricultural Technology. Both have their specialized domains and work cultures. To optimally utilize the strengths of both these systems, it was proposed to take full advantage of professionally managed Call Centre mechanism and dovetail it with the specialized Subject Matter Specialists knowledge of Agricultural Scientists and Extension Officers, so as to facilitate its reach to the farming community. It is accordingly proposed to make use of existing specialized infrastructure of Call Centers (which are normally industry-driven and serve to high-end and many a times, mission critical service sector) and make this communication backbone available to the Subject Matter Specialists of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry, Marketing and other related areas. The Kisan Call Center, consists of three levels namely Level-I (the basic Call Center interface, with high quality bandwidth and local language proficient Agriculture Graduate), Level-II (Subject Matter Specialists on concerned important crops and enterprises, connected through good bandwidth telecom and computer connectivity) and Level-III (the Management Group to ensure ultimate answering and resolution of all the farmers queries which are not resolved at Level-II, connected on off line mode).
Level - I: The call coming to the call center is picked up by an operator (level I functionary) who after a short welcome message takes down the basic information and the query of the caller. These details are fed into a computer located next to the operator by the operator himself. And the first level receiver of the call would also feeds into the computer the question being asked by the farmer.
The first level operators preferably would be an agricultural graduate with rural background knowing local language. They should also possess good communication skills. They would be in a position to answer a majority of the questions likely to be asked by the farmers.
Level - II: The level -II consists of Subject Matter Specialists (SMS) who are located at their respective place (Research Stations, ATICs, KVKs, Agricultural colleges), of work. In case the first level operator is not able to answer the question, the operator forwards (in call sharing mode) the call to the concerned Subject Matter Specialist. The data relating to the caller including the question asked is also be transferred to the Level-II functionary on his computer along with the call. Hence, when the specialist takes the forwarded call, his computer also shows the data and question asked so that there is no repetition. It is envisaged that in normal cases, the entire spill over questions from the first level get answered at this level. In case, it is not possible to answer, there is a system to revert back to the caller by post / fax / e-mail or by telephone in 72 hours.
While selecting the specialists, it would be important to first identify the major crops in that state and the issues on which the questions are likely to be asked. These specialists should be such that they will answer most of the questions that are likely to be asked. There could be two options available on the selections of the specialists.
One option could be to select commodity wise specialist, that is, every question related to a particular crop or commodity would be directed to that specialist, who would in turn answer that question. Other option could be to select general specialists who would deal with various subjects likely to arise. The specialists should ideally be located within a city. They should have good communication skills and should know the local language. These specialists should have at least a minimum of 10-15 years of field experience in their respective specialization.
Level - III: The level - III consists of a dedicated cell located at the Nodal Office. This would receive the questions that have not been answered at the first and the second levels. Appropriate replies to these questions whould be then framed in consultation with the concerned specialists available within or outside the State, by the nodal cell. The replies would be sent to the farmers promptly by post/e-mail/fax/ telephone etc. within 72 hours of receipt of the question.