Overseas Outsourcing, Revisited

It’s been quite a while since I’ve let off a rant about overseas outsourcing. A series of encounters in the past week have me more than a bit tweaked. While overseas outsourcing doesn’t have to be bad, it seems that’s often the case. My recent experience proved to be a case in point …

Now I may have been accused of being a short-sighted protectionist, in the past … but this latest snafu is purely a performance issue.

It falls squarely in the technical support arena and involves an Internet firm that unwisely chose to outsource many of their their technical calls to an overseas call center. While I can’t go into the gory details, lets just say that the folks who were answering the calls had little on the ball, technically speaking and had a problem with following up (they didn’t). It’s not too much to ask that outsourced CSRs be technically competent and provide follow up, now is it?

Which brings up the second issue. A number of the CSRs had exceedingly thick accents. Their words were practically undecipherable. It was almost impossible to understand what they were saying at times. Repeatedly asking “could you repeat that?” rarely adds up to a productive conversation.

The comprehension problem was made all the worse by a horrid phone line and excess background chatter. It sounded like the outsourcing firm had packed in these unfortunate folks like sardines and they were working in cardboard boxes, stacked one on top of each other. Two soup cans strung together with a piece of twine would have provided a higher level of fidelity.

If your company is thinking about outsourcing its technical support, check out all the options thoroughly and consider these issues:

  • Each outsourced customer service representative should exhibit an acceptable level of technical competency.
  • Technical reps with exceedingly heavy accents should not work on the phone lines.
  • An outsourcing firm’s phone service should sound every bit as good as an internal system.

Of course, not all outsourced overseas call centers are sub-standard. But those that are can do more harm than good. While they may save the company some money (on the surface) a poorly performing outsourced call center will hurt the company’s image, and more importantly, damage its reputation with present and future customers.

I’m not whistling Dixie. The company in question just lost an account.

[tags]overseas outsourcing[/tags]