UK call centres sceptical about offshore customer service

By Andy McCue

UK firms are still sceptical about outsourcing call centre work to offshore
locations such as India and South Africa, according to a new study.
More than three-quarters of the 92 senior managers interviewed have a
negative perception about the quality of customer service offered by offshore
call centres - and 60 per cent said they will never offshore their call
Only 10 per cent said offshoring is a long-term answer to the problems of
increasing wage demands, staff turnover and absenteeism.
The study was conducted by call centre automation firm Intervoice - which
obviously has a vested interest in the survey results. Simon Edwards,
marketing director at Intervoice, said call centre workforces - both here and
overseas - are being wasted on mundane tasks.
This is borne out in the results, which found more than half believe call
centre agent work does not provide a fulfilling career.
Edwards said: "The first 90 seconds of a call is just taken up with finding
out who the person is. That's going to be tedious to anyone. You want an
educated workforce for more complex questions."
The sample came from the utility, finance, insurance and travel sectors.
Three-quarters were people who run companies with large call centres and a
quarter were call centre managers.
Edwards denied that the offshoring backlash is based on perception rather
than reality.
"It is not an ill-educated view, it is a mixture of professional and personal
experience," he said. "The cost of offshoring is not fully understood."
When asked if his company's aim to automate more tasks would not also put UK
call centre staff out of work, Edwards said it would instead allow firms to
redirect those resources to more complex and productive tasks.