A lot of people complain about companies outsourcing their call centers and moving them overseas to places like India, saying that the service level suffers and they are a total waste of money. Well, taking out the issues around removing jobs from the UK, I think that it is down to training of the staff and the overseas people that the companies are willing to employ.
Just recently I’ve had reason to call a couple of call centers from different companies. One was a fantastic experience, with really helpful staff who dealt with my queries proffesionally. The other was absolutely abismal with the staff not being able to understand me and fobbing me off.
When I wanted to upgrade my phone with Three, I gave the upgrades line a ring and (after the usual automated menus) had a pleasant Indian sounding lady take my order who took my details and sorted out my upgrade. Of course, as it was a sales line she tried to sell me some addons, which I listened to and actually agreed to one, an unlimited internet package for an extra fiver a month. Now about 10 minutes after I finished the call, I got the lady ringing me back to tell me that the unlimited internet offer conflicted with my mobile broadband. After a short conversation where I explained what I actually needed she went away to talk to a supervisor. When she rang back she had everything sorted (I couldn’t have the unlimited internet offer and use my mobile as a modem). Of course, this was a sales line, so they may well have their best staff on there, but later that week there was a confusion over the delivery of my upgrade and when I rang up to track the package on a couple of occasions I got some more really helpful staff who gave me all the details I needed to find out what was happening to my delivery. Now order tracking is probably low on the priority for a company to provide, but I still got good service and helpful staff.
On the other end of the service spectrum is Sky. A year or so ago I got a Sky+ HD box off eBay and installed it myself. Now when I initially rang up to get my viewing card paired up I got really awful service. I kept getting cut off and when I finally got talking to someone they refused to let me pair the box unless I took the HD subscription. In the end, after getting put through to a supervisor they told me that the computer system had crashed and they’d have to submit my application via paper and it’d take up to seven days. I didn’t believe a word of it, but as it was only the movies that I couldn’t watch I gave them the benefit of the doubt and left it for a week. When I called back thankfully I got the Scottish call center and they sorted out the pairing whilst I was on the phone.
This all happened again when I actually wanted to get the HD subscription. The Indian call center basically couldn’t understand what I wanted and couldn’t be bothered trying, so I got fobbed off with yet another lie when they told me I’d have to get a new viewing card and it would turn up in a few days. Again, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and left it for a week before ringing back. This time I got a nice woman in Scotland who sorted everything out nice and quickly and within a couple of hours the HD subscription was sorted and I could watch Battlestar in all its HD glory!
So, when people complain about overseas call centers being useless, they can’t lump them all in together. Some companies have moved them and seem to actually traing their staff, or at least have good procedures in place. Others have just hired anyone who can speak a dozen words of english, plonked a script in front of them and left them to it.
Of course, it would be nice to keep the jobs and money in the UK, but thats a totally thing!