Outsourcing your call centres might make sense from a cost standpoint, but what about your customers?
A headline in The Age on Saturday read “Telstra call centre jobs to be axed in overseas deal”. The crux of the article is that Telstra has contracted to outsource to a US company for its call centres, which will mean a significant number of its call centre operations will be shifted overseas.
While call centres are seen as a business cost, this type of asinine decision will continue to be made.
How about a shift in thinking? Instead of a cost to be minimised, look at your call centre and the people in it as your first line of customer relationship management, and empower them accordingly.
As it stands today, the day-to-day experience of most people who work in call centres can shift from bleak to downright ugly. Getting paid to be abused by customers for not being able to fix something on one end, and then pressured by management for not handling enough calls, is what makes the annual turnover rate for people working in call centres exceed 100% and frequently exceed 150%.
What would that number it look like if they were seen as the first and most important point of customer connection?
- Instead of just trying to solve problems they could deliver customer satisfaction.
- Instead of frustrating and angering your customers, they could create loyalty.
- Instead of just “fixing” existing product issues they could sell new ones.
- Instead of looking for another job the minute they start, they would stick around and play their part in achieving company goals.
- Instead of being measured by the number and length of calls, they are seen as a source of valuable customer feedback informing other areas of operations.
You get the idea.
I don’t mean to assert that all outsourced call centres are bad; I am sure there are some very good organisations that provide these operations and work hard to represent the values and brand of the companies they work for.
Quite often the superior technology and training found in offshore outsourced call centres is superior to what can be found locally, and that is part of what makes it seem like an attractive option.
But everything on the list above is harder if not impossible when your call centres and the people in them work for someone else.
Fundamentally, call centres and the services they provide are viewed from the wrong perspective, but when handled right they can be a valuable asset, generate revenue for your business and be a competitive advantage.
For a great example of customer service done right read this previous blog about Zappos (I am betting their call centre is not outsourced and off shore).
And, the following You Tube video on outsourced call centres is hilarious (and if anyone has his email please forward this to Telstra’s CEO…). Enjoy.
See you next week!
Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.
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Mariella writes: What a great article. One of the main reasons I will not use one phone company or any of their products is that while they’re cheap, their call centre is overseas. And thus not receiving the service that as a paying consumer, I deserve. Not only that, from experience the customer service members on the other end of the phone don’t really care or try to solve my problems. I agree that companies should think twice before sending something offshore.