During the last ten years we have seen an overwhelming trend to cut costs by outsourcing back office processes and software development to offshore locations, and the same applies to customer-facing front office processes and services, such as call centres and support desks. So is the customer really happy with this type of service? The customer can be an employee or manager, as well as a client or customer. I would say probably nine times out of ten they are not.
Customers have been forced down the route of phoning a call centre, being pushed down an endless “press one for support, two for sales,” etc. then being taken to a sub-menu which asks for a further set of decisions, only then to be put on hold with a voice recording telling you that “all of our operators are busy – we will answer your call as soon as we can”. By this time I am usually ready to slam the phone down, but eventually when your call is answered, it is by someone speaking broken English who runs through a script that often includes the same answers you have selected with your automatic choices. By this time I am really starting to get irritated.
Finally, when you have described your problem to the ninth degree, the operator very politely says, “I am sorry but I will have to transfer your call to our onshore call centre to deal with your query/order/complaint.” By this time I am incandescent, and mentally note to change my job/contract to another provider, and issue a written complaint (I most certainly would not go through the process of phoning through a complaint!). By the time you come off the phone you are frustrated and angry, and the provider stands a good chance of losing you as a client.
Would it not be simpler if you could pick up the phone to a call centre located in the same country as the service being provided, with someone who is a subject matter expert, with the required responsibility to make a decision to solve your problem? Rather than having to spend ages answering questions on what your call is about, you can be simply put in a queue where you are told which number in the queue you actually are, so you can make a decision as to whether to call back later.
When the labour market becomes tight, the cost differential disappears and this can be further aggravated by currency exchanges. As a developing country becomes a significant exporter of goods or services its currency will increase in value. This has been largely overlooked.
If you are an employee or a manager, how often do you consider that there has been no advantage to offshoring the back office and your situation is actually worse, not better? Thankfully there are some call centres that do have the service that is onshore and short phone menu selections, but they are in the minority, not the norm. Some large corporates are starting to bring their support services back onshore too.
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