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Why do companies have foreign call centres?

Benjimoron Avatar
8y, 4m agoPosted 8 years, 4 months ago
Not a racist post before anyone starts.


I can't understand how any company thought it would be a good idea to have a call centre in a foreign country, how on earth can you get your point across when they can't understand most of what you say. No offence to them at all, I wouldn't be able to understand someone speaking Indian to me.

I phoned HSBC yesterday and after an hour of trying to make myself understood I finally agreed with the advisor on the things that they would do. I made things very clear and spoke slowly. I checked several times that they understood exactly what I was asking them to do and they agreed that they understood and would ensure that it happened.

This left me with no confidence that the things we agreed on would happen, today I find out that they didn't happen! I have phoned up to find out why and to make my complaint, I have spoken to the manager who has agreed for a £25 credit to be put on my account for the wasted time and call costs. I'm happy with this but it really annoys me that the same thing will just happen next time. I am assuming here that the £25 agreed actually appears!!!

Why can't companies just realise that having foreigners take your calls, particularly when it's to do with money, is just bad news for everyone involved?

Again, please don't turn this into a racist debate. Thank you.
Benjimoron Avatar
8y, 4m agoPosted 8 years, 4 months ago
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#1
Because its cheaper for the company. I think the stats are (can't remember where from) every 1 Englishman is equivalent to 7 foreigners in employment costs.
#2
It saves them money.
But on a customer satisfaction level its not providing the service needed.
Sure, not all UK call centres are good, but many are, and can get problems sorted quickly.
#3
Deal4Me
Because its cheaper for the company. I think the stats are (can't remember where from) every 1 Englishman is equivalent to 7 foreigners in employment costs.

I agree, but if you can't understand each other how can they think it's doing the customer service any good?

I guess they're saving money by not doing the things they agree to either.
#4
Deep down, I think they know that customer service is pants, even though they say its good.

I agree 100%, I'm with Three mobile :|

All they want to do is save money, at any cost. In this case, customer service.
banned#5
Just to make us angry:x
#6
I totally agree. Many companies now state that their call centres are UK based as a selling point.

Like you, I'm not racist, however if I need some service from a company it's fairly fundamental that the person I speak to understands my request or query.
#7
Cost!

Foreign based call centres are significantly cheaper to run than UK based centres. Labour costs are cheap, labour is more reliable (sad but true!) and infrastructure cost is much less.

To the customer it is inconvenient and a nuisance (I know I have a broad Lancastrian accent, imagine how some Indian fella copes with me, I have enough trouble in the South East of England!) but big multi-national companies love them.

As a seafarer I have seen the number of British seafarers slashed, currently we employ Polish junior officers and ratings. On average they earn about half of what a British officer would earn, and my company is thinking of replacing these with Ukranians because we can pay them less than a quarter of the British equivalent.

The way of the global market unfortnately!
#8
Try speaking to DELL technical support .......!!!!
#9
Join Natwest if your that bothered, all UK call centres :thumbsup:
#10
quick Maths for the keen..
Min wage in the UK £5.20 per hour, 40 hours per week, 4 weeks a month= £832per month per lowest scale Call centre employee, not including Bonus.
Rough wage to a call centre employee In India or south east asia, Rs 20,000 per month to Rs30,000 per month (MAX for a lowest scale Call centre employee) Rs 30,000= £360 per month roughly.

Now for example if there is a call centre has 50 employees,
in UK cost = £41,600 per month = £499,200 per year.
In India cost = £18,000 per month = £216,000 per year.

Now you can see how things add up. Also a company in the UK has to pay NI contributions and benefit packages. No NI is paid in India, but most companies heavily reward call centre staff with non financial incentives, like vouchers, weekly socials, and at a later stage depending on performace, financial incentives.

But if you look at the Maths, if you were running a company with a bottom line and fierce competition, what would you do!!??
#11
Deal4Me
Because its cheaper for the company. I think the stats are (can't remember where from) every 1 Englishman is equivalent to 7 foreigners in employment costs.


I wouldn't be surprised if it was even more than that when you factor in all the costs although at least some recognise that it's not worth the saving and have switched back to UK callcentres.

John
#12
Its now become a major marketing tool to have a UK based call centre.
#13
Obviously, due to being cost effective and it does save companies vast sums of money.

I think it has gone full circle and as already mentioned it is now used as a marketing tool with companies who have call centres based in the UK.
#14
I can't understand most of them either.
I was made redundant from my job in I.T. through outsourcing to an Indian company.
They first brought their people here to train from the U.K. staff before letting the U.K. staff go.
Even speaking to them face to face, it was very difficult for me to understand them.
I think it is a lot worse on the phone.
I am now on job seekers allowance along with a lot of the others from my company.
So, until I find a job, I'm sorry but I will be a burdon on the U.K. economy.
And this is happening to thousands of people.
Doesn't seem right to me.
Bitter?...I'm not bitter....Much.
Rant over. :-D
#15
MinstrelMan
Its now become a major marketing tool to have a UK based call centre.


Good!

It really annoys me when you phone to open something and they're all English, then when you have a problem they're foreign.
#16
I have a Indian friend who works for an international company in Mumbai, and as he sees it (and I believe him), about 20% of the British customers he talks to have such a bad grasp of English that he often finds it difficult to determine what their problem is! They are unable to explain things properly and are quick to anger when he tries to clarify things. Bhavesh's English is excellent, and although he has an accent like the rest of us, I would say he is an expert user of English in a way most people I know are not. Just another perspective for you.
#17
Liddle ol' me
I have a Indian friend who works for an international company in Mumbai, and as he sees it (and I believe him), about 20% of the British customers he talks to have such a bad grasp of English that he often finds it difficult to determine what their problem is! They are unable to explain things properly and are quick to anger when he tries to clarify things. Bhavesh's English is excellent, and although he has an accent like the rest of us, I would say he is an expert user of English in a way most people I know are not. Just another perspective for you.


Thanks, I am definately in the 80% that can speak English though.

It must be difficult for them with accents and all that, I've nothing against them, would rather that companies gave appropriate service.

It's like having the phone number for cancelling a service going to China and someone speaking Chinese to you, there's no way you'd get your account cancelled and they'd keep on getting your money!
#18
There are good and bad Benji to be honest but I have to agree with you on an overall basis.

I think it must have been one of those ideas that started out showing incredible success and because so many companies jumped on the bandwagon has steadily become a nightmare.
The theoretical idea has to be good. Provide a constant dedicated customer care line at a minimal cost and without having to manage it oneself. Couple that with the initial standard of call center employee in places like India which can easily be graduate level.
What more could you want ??

The practical side appears to be a little different.
It would be too cynical would it not to assume companies realised that their customers would find it hard to complain about being serviced by a foreign customer care person for obvious reasons but that is indeed what has happened in a lot of cases.
Perhaps the trend has moved so quickly that it has not allowed for proper recruitment and training ?
Perhaps the Managers of the call centers are cutting costs.
Perhaps the companies whom the call centers work for are not checking up on the quality of service.

Whatever the case is it is obvious that for a lot of companies these call centers are becoming a negative and more and more of their customers are not prepared to put up with the service, even at the risk of being branded a racist.

Just my opinion.
#19
I can't believe there were 17 replies whilst I was writing that !! I'm so slow !!
#20
Liddle ol' me
I have a Indian friend who works for an international company in Mumbai, and as he sees it (and I believe him), about 20% of the British customers he talks to have such a bad grasp of English that he often finds it difficult to determine what their problem is! They are unable to explain things properly and are quick to anger when he tries to clarify things. Bhavesh's English is excellent, and although he has an accent like the rest of us, I would say he is an expert user of English in a way most people I know are not. Just another perspective for you.


Loads of truth in that also. You can tell when you are speaking to many operators they have studied English Language.
banned#21
Ben my man,

clear your inbox. its full!
#22
csiman
Ben my man,

clear your inbox. its full!


Done, I only leave it nearly full so people think I receive 100 messages a day!

I really should clear it!
banned#23
Benjimoron;2602300
Done, I only leave it nearly full so people think I receive 100 messages a day!

I really should clear it!

LOL -you are not alone. Probably 50% of people I PM have full mailboxes. Is the limit so low?
#24
csiman
LOL -you are not alone. Probably 50% of people I PM have full mailboxes. Is the limit so low?


No, it's double what MSE get!

I'm just lazy!

Now where is this PM?
#25
hottoshop
Loads of truth in that also. You can tell when you are speaking to many operators they have studied English Language.


Yes, I believe that is true to a large extent. You have to remember the earliest form of this "outsourcing" was with doctors notes. Doctors in the US used to record their notes on a audio player. At the end of the doctors day ie 6pm US time (roughly Morning in Asia)these files were emailed to a centre in Asia, where they were typed out, and emailed back to the doctor at the end of the day in Asia (or early morning in the US). It worked a treat as the time zones were perfect. But it spilled over to call centres as the telecom infrastructure and internet connectivity improved.

I have to admit, it boils down to the caliber of staff at the centres!! Some are brilliant, accent neutral and will be top notch. the others have employess who are just filling in career time while they get onto better things!!
#26
unileeds
Yes, I believe that is true to a large extent. You have to remember the earliest form of this "outsourcing" was with doctors notes. Doctors in the US used to record their notes on a audio player. At the end of the doctors day ie 6pm US time (roughly Morning in Asia)these files were emailed to a centre in Asia, where they were typed out, and emailed back to the doctor at the end of the day in Asia (or early morning in the US). It worked a treat as the time zones were perfect. But it spilled over to call centres as the telecom infrastructure and internet connectivity improved.

I have to admit, it boils down to the caliber of staff at the centres!! Some are brilliant, accent neutral and will be top notch. the others have employess who are just filling in career time while they get onto better things!!


Interesteing about the doctor's notes - didn't know that. And very true about it boiling down to the particular staff-member. One thing I'd like to add though is that my impression is that overall the quality of CS staff is actually higher in these 'foreign' centres than the majority of British CS staff. Of course quality varies in both places, but I have found many examples of laziness, rudeness and sheer couldn't-be-botheredness among British CS staff that I simply haven't found with foreign call centre staff. Any problems I've had with these foreign centres has boiled down to company policy (with 3 a couple of times) and never with the CS staff member. On the other hand, I've had several experience of British CS staff being objectionable on a personal level - i.e. showing a lack of professionalism.
#27
TBH cant understand the fuss as most of them can speak english or else they woudnt be in there jobs.
#28
MarzBarz
TBH cant understand the fuss as most of them can speak english or else they woudnt be in there jobs.


Exactly. But there will always be those who like to focus on the 'foreign-ness' before anything else. And more often than not they have a hidden agenda. :thumbsup:
#29
I've just got off the phone to orange, after phoning last month and speaking to a 'foreign' lady about me being over charged... yet again this month... over charged!! I'm assuming the 'foreign' lady didn't understand my problem! grrr! It's ridiculous imo, we should have fluent english speaking people! we don't get it t any cheaper yet the company are having cheaper costs! grrr.
#30
MarzBarz
TBH cant understand the fuss as most of them can speak english or else they woudnt be in there jobs.


not fluent english though! Also, I can rarely understand them! :x
#31
They do have a slight acsent i admit but i can understand them most of the times.
#32
yimmie
not fluent english though! Also, I can rarely understand them! :x


Well, rarely to me suggests about 10% of the time or less. I would say I have an actual problem with accents on the phone in maybe 1-in-20 cases. That's a 95% positive score. Perhaps you should increase your circle of friends to include a variety of accents. You'll find that the ear improves greatly this way :thumbsup:
1 Like #33
MarzBarz
TBH cant understand the fuss as most of them can speak english or else they woudnt be in there jobs.


Agree 100%

Add this to the fact that most Indian call centre employees are very well educated and have degrees in IT subjects also. Most people in the UK see call centre jobs as "low paid, dead end" jobs that someone with no qualifications can do. Whereas in places like India its the complete opposite, where you need to have a very good standard of education before you can even be considered.

TBH I think its just a case of some getting worked up as they think these people are "stealing our jobs".
#34
modoc
Agree 100%

Add this to the fact that most Indian call centre employees are very well educated and have degrees in IT subjects also. Most people in the UK see call centre jobs as "low paid, dead end" jobs that someone with no qualifications can do. Whereas in places like India its the complete opposite, where you need to have a very good standard of education before you can even be considered.


:thumbsup: :-D

EDIT:
modoc

TBH I think its just a case of some getting worked up as they think these people are "stealing our jobs".


Yes, this is one of the hidden agendas people have for these kind of conversations. There are other less-reasoned agendas on the table too of course.

Rep add btw - and another red dot magically appeared!
#35
A major point that hasn't yet been made is dialect. This can vary wildly across the country, and whilst most other English people could work it out, to the call centres, it's, well, all foreign, lol. Scottish are the best example, 'wee', 'bairn' etc. How are they supposed to know what a 'bairn' is!

The other thing, which i saw mentioned on a show, i think it was Dispatches, is that the people there, don't have first hand experience of what our problem is. . If they've never experienced the problems we are having, then they won't understand the severity of it.
#36
In my job, I provide 2nd line IT support. The 1st line support were outsourced to Budapest, Hungary.
Customers ring their helpdesk and speak to the 1st line explaining their problems, they try and fix it but most of the time they do something completely different! If they cannot resolve it, it then comes to me.
I am based in the UK and when I speak to that person there is a huge sigh of relief from them....an english speaking person! they are grateful for this as I can understand their problem and try and fix it for them...
Do they have call centres abroad for our emergency services? I very much doubt it for the obvious reasons...
#37
It's definitely a hit and miss affair and much more so nowadays.
I think it's ridiculous to start putting a racist angle on the problem. It's just a customer service problem, if you phone up for support you should be able to understand and be understood.
I would have just as much a problem if the call center was manned with people with broad Geordie or Irish accents.

It was just as much an embarrassment for me as it was for the call center operators when TWICE I had to end calls with Carphone Warehouse Call Center because I just could not understand or make myself be understood. Third time I got an operator that understood me and whom I could talk to.

And as for "Perhaps you should increase your circle of friends to include a variety of accents" that's about the most offensive thing I've read in this thread and so much beneath you Liddle !
Some of us don't have that choice and I'm guessing most do not hold KKK membership.

Respect :)
#38
hottoshop
IAnd as for "Perhaps you should increase your circle of friends to include a variety of accents" that's about the most offensive thing I've read in this thread and so much beneath you Liddle !
Some of us don't have that choice and I'm guessing most do not hold KKK membership.

Respect :)


I have oodles of respect and pass it out liberally where and when it's due. But you are reading disrespect into something that is not. It is not disrespectful to challenge someone who uses hyperbole and thinly veiled disrespect for others. See the original quotes, and especially the use of 'scare' quote marks:

yimmie
I've just got off the phone to orange, after phoning last month and speaking to a 'foreign' lady about me being over charged... yet again this month... over charged!! I'm assuming the 'foreign' lady didn't understand my problem! grrr! It's ridiculous imo, we should have fluent english speaking people! we don't get it t any cheaper yet the company are having cheaper costs! grrr.


yimmie
not fluent english though! Also, I can rarely understand them! :x
#39
Liddle ol' me
Well, rarely to me suggests about 10% of the time or less. I would say I have an actual problem with accents on the phone in maybe 1-in-20 cases. That's a 95% positive score. Perhaps you should increase your circle of friends to include a variety of accents. You'll find that the ear improves greatly this way :thumbsup:


haha, funny that. I've only got one bff who's british. Around 5 others which range from Thai to German...
If I got to live anywhere in the world it would be asia, (Malaysia in-particular)
I even find Scotish accents hard to understand at times, but they understand me, whereas Indians or the like don't understand me. :whistling: which is where the problems occur, they can't sort out my problem(s) which they are there to do so as they don't understand what the problem is.
#40
peodude
A major point that hasn't yet been made is dialect. This can vary wildly across the country, and whilst most other English people could work it out, to the call centres, it's, well, all foreign, lol. Scottish are the best example, 'wee', 'bairn' etc. How are they supposed to know what a 'bairn' is!

The other thing, which i saw mentioned on a show, i think it was Dispatches, is that the people there, don't have first hand experience of what our problem is. . If they've never experienced the problems we are having, then they won't understand the severity of it.


that's how I feel! they don't understand my requirements thus can't necessarily help me!

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