Customer Service Gets Tricker to Offshore, Yet It's Still Being Done

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    Aside from the fact that 80% of customer service-oriented outsourcing endeavors will fail, according to Gartner, 70% of the top Indian-owned BPO startups offering customer call center services will cease to exist. The fact is, Gartner doesn't see much future in customer service outsourcing. By 2007, it will represent less than five percent of the total, according to this article on SiliconIndia.

    On the other hand, a Financial Times article that a friend referred me to on MSNBC.com here discusses HSBC Holdings — a global bank — as planning to double its Asian-based back office workforce in the next three years, from its current 13,000 workers. These people — according to the article — are mostly providing clerical and phone support services to replace US and European staff. According to COO Alan Jebson, his company saves about $20,000 for every job it moves.

    Says Mr. Jebson:

    In the end, it would take a reaction from customers and we have not had a significant adverse reaction from customers. Politicians and media can do their worst but in the end it's the customers that matter.

    (I wonder how the company records or monitors averse reaction from customers — if at all.) The same interview says the company spends between $20 million and $30 million for every center it opens up. (The biggest one employs 2,000 people.) It currently has four centers in India, three in China and one each in Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It expects to open up a fifth Indian center in Calcutta later this year. And it's eyeing Vietnam next, for its population of English and French speakers.

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