From the Mumbai docks in the east to Azad Maidan in the west, from Victoria Terminus in the north to Kala Ghoda in the south, Fort is the nerve centre of many of Mumbai’s business establishments. And it is in this bustling, noisy area where we witness how silence speaks volumes. Welcome to the “Silent Station” of Amazon India, where station operations and deliveries are executed by differently abled associates (associates who are unable to hear and speak). The station made a small beginning one-and-a-half years ago when Amazon India partnered with Mirakle Couriers, a Service Partner who works with associates with speech and hearing disabilities associates to make deliveries. However, the transition was not an easy journey.
Accustomed to carrying out mostly document deliveries, convincing their families to do package deliveries was a challenge. From delivering simple documents and envelopes to bigger packages brought in some anxiety and hesitation. The Mirakle Couriers team helped them understand the safe work environment, with salaries being paid on time and perks given as per standard industry regulations, the journey then truly began. Today, this team of around 30 people - who are either Delivery Associates or work as part of the Station Team – have become an integral part of the Amazon delivery chain.
As we see these Associates communicate with each other in sign language and bond over a chai, it does make you wonder about the challenges while setting up this station. Nimesh Pawar (Operations Manager), Mirakle Couriers Pvt. Ltd, says, “Apart from getting space to run operations, which is a big challenge in Mumbai, to coach associates with speech and hearing disabilities required a different kind of expertise. For eg., the Amazon app which delivery associates use to reach out to customers before delivery is something these associates could not use.So we had to train them on making video calls back to the station to check for customer availability and then make the delivery. Also, in cases where we have large volumes or large sized packages – deaf associates cannot carry a package and make a video call at the same time. We need to send an extra associate with this person to ensure a perfect delivery. Having said that, these associates learn so fast and are so disciplined that once they are told of a process, they will never digress from that – this translates into a stress free environment at the Station – which is great for us!
Learning it the e-com way
Rinku Singh, an associate with a hearing disability says, “I was working with Mirakle Couriers and doing normal courier deliveries (paper, documents, cheques, etc.) for multiple clients. Mirakle Courier’s association with Amazon gave me an opportunity to understand the organized way of delivery in e-commerce. I was able to unleash technology used in Amazon for timely deliveries and providing enhanced customer experience. This way of working also helped me to do maximum deliveries and I complete my work on time which is why I am now able to focus on my family. After I started doing quality deliveries I also started earning my incentives because of which my income has increased which is always a good thing!” As the Station grows from strength to strength, we are told that this would not be possible without the investment of these “special associates.” When a new associate with speech or hearing disabilities joins, a tenured associate provides training. Initially he will travel along with the new associate, and help him identify landmarks which helps the new associate to do faster deliveries. They also practice the same on hand drawn maps and use of technology like Whatsapp video calling.
And all this hard work and discipline had paid dividends. What started off as a pilot with 5 associates with speech and hearing disabilities working out of an existing Amazon station, has now transformed into a complete Silent station run completely by these associates. All of this is given their strong performance, dedication, discipline and passion to provide the best customer experience always.