Outsourcing Custom

For several years now, various UK companies have been outsourcing their customer services to other countries, particularly India. There’s only so much that we can take.

It’s cheaper for large companies to employ staff in India and to simply divert the telephone calls to customer services over there. I can understand this from a business perspective, but these companies must surely realise that they’re sacrificing customer loyalty.

To be honest, I don’t care which country my telephone call gets diverted to, as long as I get the information or service I require. I find that the people who answer the telephones are very helpful.

The problem is that their English may not be fluent and they generally follow a script. The moment your conversation deviates from that script, things go very wrong, causing an immense amount of frustration.

Years ago, I had to cancel my AOL subscription. I rang AOL and answered the various security questions to identify myself. I was clearly through to a call centre in India.

Rather than simply being able to cancel my subscription, I had to answer lots of other questions, mainly about my usage and my reasons for leaving AOL. I get frustrated sometimes and being the mature person that I am, I decide to have some fun on such occasions.

I was asked what I mainly use the internet for and I replied that I mainly viewed hardcore porn, including some bestiality. It was hilarious- the poor man in India was clearly looking down a list for “porn” and “bestiality”. He couldn’t even pronounce “bestiality”, which made it all the more amusing. With hindsight, it’s fortunate that I didn’t specifically mention cows as when the man in India realised what bestiality was, he may have wanted to kill me.

I was also asked why I wanted to cancel my AOL subscription; was I moving to an area that wasn’t covered by AOL, was I fed up with their service or was I simply trying a new provider?

None of the above.

I explained that I was planning on committing suicide but as I was a thoughtful chap, I was taking care of my affairs myself. I would be ringing BT after I was done with AOL.

Again, the man in India seemed to be struggling. Clearly, planned suicide was not a reason for leaving AOL that he had on his list. He seemed to be quite pleased to tell me that my subscription had been cancelled and even asked if there was anything else he could help me with. I asked if he knew how to load a gun but before he could reply, the call got cut off. To this day, I like to think that he didn’t cut me off on purpose.

Ringing Three UK is a daunting prospect. For some reason with them, there’s a considerable delay between one or the other speaking and the response given; that in itself is pretty annoying.

The only downside to calling Three UK is the quality of English. Generally, the advisers understand what you’re saying, but the way they string their sentences together is appalling. One of their most common phrases is “I ask you to do the same”, which seems to be used in various types of conversation and I still don’t know what it’s supposed to mean.

My friend, who is with Vodafone, is simply trying to obtain a copy of his contract with them. He’s been using the online help form and making his request very simply and very clearly. You’d be amazed at the responses received as they demonstrate a very basic lack of understanding.

I know for a fact that although some large companies don’t outsource their call centres, they do outsource some of their back-end work or processing. This can be incredibly frustrating for UK employees, when work comes back that is incomplete or actioned incorrectly.

It’s sad that it’s cheaper for large companies to outsource their work, because this affects employment in our own country. But as long as it’s cheaper to do the same job (in principle) elsewhere, it will continue to happen.

Any large company who brags of putting it’s customers first, yet has a call centre in India, is clearly full of shit.

Everybody knows that in general, we hate speaking to a foreign call centres mainly because of the lack of understanding. If you ring a call centre because you’re angry in the first place, how is an Indian person, who can’t speak proper English and who doesn’t understand what it is you mean, going to do to help your mood?

People won’t take their custom elsewhere as it’s usually too complicated and I think that these large companies know this. They know that they can take the piss and get away with a fair bit before customers start to leave in droves.

The only good thing these days is that the need to contact customer services is rare, because you can get most answers or do most things yourself online. With the exception of Vodafone, of course.

Either recruit staff in India who speak and understand fluent English, or bring customer services back to the UK. One day, people will lose patience and the large companies will lose money. Only then will the directors scratch their heads and blame the losses on an economic downturn. They’ll never admit that it’s because they put profits before customer service.

Apparently, we’re due an Indian Summer later on in October. Proof that in the UK, we’ll outsource anything

One Reply to “Outsourcing Custom”

  1. Thanks for the post Ninja Hedgehog. The first thing I considered when I decided to use a call service for my business was the location. I wanted to make sure that there were no discrepancies between the caller and he receiver. Seeing how I’m in the health care business there was no room for miscommunication. Eventually I found someone. I wanted to make sure I signed on to a company that was able to fully integrate themselves into my business so that a caller would think that they were speaking to someone that worked in my office.
    I love your blog and think you’re really awesome.

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