Lloyds May Lose Clients Over Indian Call Centre

The Economic Times

Submitted by Bob Johnson, P.E., S.E

Subj: [WWW.AWCORG.US] banking customers would rather switch than use a bank that offshores its clients personal data
Date: 5/2/2004 10:04:00 PM Central Daylight Time
From: rahcn@yahoo.com
Reply-to: AmericanWorkersCoalition@yahoogroups.com
To: AmericanWorkersCoalition@yahoogroups.com
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Lloyds may lose clients over Indian call centre

IANS[ MONDAY, MAY 03, 2004 03:16:53 AM ]
LONDON: A majority of Lloyds TSB customers in Scotland and northeast England would consider switching banks rather than depend on services based on call centres in India, surveys say.

The surveys conducted by MORI said 55% of Scots would consider switching their account rather than deal with a bank that “offshores” to India. A total of 49% of Lloyds TSB’s customers in Scotland felt the same way.

Industry watchdogs have been raising concerns about the security of Indian call centres after a series of identity theft scares. The National Association of Bank and Insurance Customers believes that mass offshoring will be the last straw for many long-suffering bank customers. Its director, Stuart Cliffe, said:

“We have put up with their (banks’) arrogance, the fact they are always right and we are always wrong, and their queues at lunchtime. We used to have lifelong stable relationships with our banks, usually picking the one that was on the High Street near our work or just outside our homes. Then call centres came along.

” He added: “Frankly, customers have never liked call centres and always wanted to speak to a real person, but now they are really worried about dealing with people far away, especially given recent concerns over security abroad. Rightly or wrongly, there is a real public perception that the quality of service from Indian call centres is not as good.”

Reports from Scotland say that almost every customer has a tale of a cultural mix-up with a foreign call centre. Research by the trade union Amicus showed many wanted to know where the person they were talking to on the phone was physically based, even within the UK.

The union is now working with key customer groups, such as students, to quiz banks and other call-centre operators on the quality of jobs they are offering in India, and on what they are doing for communities they have abandoned in Britain.

In Newcastle in northeast England, another MORI opinion poll revealed that 57% of people in the region would consider moving to another bank if their banking arrangements were handled abroad. As many as 78% of Lloyds TSB customers disapprove of the fact that the bank’s Newcastle call centre will be transferred to India, with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

Steve Tatlow, assistant general secretary at Lloyds TSB Group Union, said: “The results of the survey prove what the union has been saying all along. That transferring work to India is deeply unpopular with customers and that Lloyds TSB ignores its customers’ wishes at its peril. If Lloyds TSB does not drop its jobs to India policy then it risks losing hundreds of thousands of customers.

Lloyds TSB should recognise it cannot ignore the wishes of customers, staff and the UK economy, merely because it can cut costs by ditching existing UK staff and replacing them with workers in India paid just one-tenth of their salary.”

A Lloyds TSB spokeswoman said: “There was another survey recently, which showed two-thirds of people did not mind where their call was answered, so long as it was answered well and quickly. If someone rings a Lloyds TSB call centre their call may be answered in Mumbai in India or it may be answered at another call centre in Britain.”

Meanwhile, according to a report by market analysts Data-monitor, jobs would continue to be created in call centres in the UK even though firms are transferring work overseas, including to India. The proportion of the UK population employed in call centres will rise from 2.3% in ’03 to 3% by ’08, it said.

Financial services were the biggest employer of call centre services at the moment, but growth is expected to be fuelled by the public and healthcare sectors. The number of workers in UK call centres has grown to 435,000 and will increase to almost 500,000 over the next four years, said the report.