Outsourcing and Call Center Blog

13 December, 2007

Upon reflection…

Filed under: India,off shoring,Outsourcing — shamrin @ 11:21

Well, we’ve done all we can do with the new company website. Alas, the supplier is now about 10 weeks late on a 12 week project and managed to stretch the whole thing well past our departure date. Here’s some practical advice that I should have done a better job of following myself; when hiring an Indian company for outsourcing, get references and check them thoroughly. If I had taken my own advice on this it would have saved me a lot of headaches.

After leaving the commissioning of the website in the very capable hands of my protege “Sameer”, we are off for our Christmas Holiday. I don’t expect to have very consistent access to The Internets so new posts and comment replies may have to wait until after New Years.

So, whatever holiday(s) you are celebrating over the next few weeks, I hope they are happy ones. See you in 2008.

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7 December, 2007

India – Masters of Customer Service

“If you want to provide your customers with really first class customer service, you have to go to India.” The Germans have developed a second-to-none ability to build cars, the Japanese televisions and, in my opinion if your HiFi isn’t Scottish, it’s crap. Now where in the world do they have more experience, more people, more managers, more executives devoted to providing customer service and technical support than here in India? So it just stands to reason that we are the world’s best, right?

How does that sound? Are you buying it? Seth Godin is on a roll this week about customer service and call centers. In his piece called The discipline of one ring he alludes to the vast difference in customer experience for customers of companies who have committed to answering the phone on the first ring and the experience many of us are more used to (I was in a 2-hour queue with my hosting company this week who tout their support as being “exclusively UK-based”). I will leave it to Seth to examine why this customer experience makes a difference, but I wonder how many Indian Call Centers are ready to promote, sell, staff and manage a one-ring level of customer service. If we don’t understand this concept, aren’t able to articulate the advantages, aren’t willing to sell the reasoning and move our prospects and customers (where appropriate) in this direction, then why not?

3 December, 2007

Thank you for calling, please hold, click

Seth Godin writes in his blog today about an excruciating experience with PayPal. Reading through it I can’t believe there is anyone who doesn’t feel his pain – we’ve all been there. It also strikes me that while they are not alone, this is definitely an example of the intended customer service model for the PayPal-eBay-Skype group in my experience.

Coincidently, I was using Skype (which I think is a brilliant product) to call my bank back in the UK about my new credit card that’s gone missing in the post. While I was waiting in the queue I read in Seth’s blog:

If you’re on this system and a long-time customer calls in with a complicated problem, one that’s going to require supervisor intervention and follow up, what’s your best plan? Is it to spend an hour with this person over three days, or is the system designed to have you politely get them to just give up?

which I figured was probably an amazing bit of foreshadowing.

Both here in India and in the UK, reps know very well how to simply hang-up when they get one of these hard-to-deal-with problems, never mind being discouraging. Fortunately this is not the norm but it does happen with disturbing frequency. This is the curse of the AHT (Average Handling Time, the mean amount of time a rep spends on his/her calls during the day/week/month). It’s often the main measure for our staff and our centres and everyone in the industry knows that it is inversely related to good customer service. So one wonders how we have come to the conclusion that measuring and encouraging poor customer service is good for business. You can say it’s more complicated than that and perhaps it is, but it isn’t.

Is it any wonder that we have such high turnover of staff when we stress quality, have QA managers, monitor calls for quality but then incent for speed?

Because my new card was lost in the mail, my bank cancelled it leaving us now cardless in the run-up to our Christmas travels. Because of our travel schedule, if we don’t get the card next week, we won’t be able to collect it until sometime in February. The rep handling my call was friendly and understanding and stuck with me and my problem for every bit of 30 minutes trying to solve it. Alas, she was unable to get the dispatch people to send the new cards by courier even after I offered to pay for it myself, But they did offer this, and I’m not making this up, “Tell him to call back tomorrow and ask, maybe we’ll be in a better mood.” And with that, they went home for the day. I wonder what they’re measure on?

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