What a relief it is to learn that low-to-middle-ranking office work in Britain is not necessarily doomed as a result of the Indian outsourcing phenomenon.
What other conclusion can I draw from Powergen’s decision to close its call centre in India because of “appalling” levels of service.
Personally, I’m relieved that the U.S. fund manager I spoke to a fortnight ago with more than $30 billion under management may yet be wrong when he predicted carnage around the European photocopier over the next decade.
I don’t doubt that India’s service-based economy has a great future but I was frankly irritated with my bank when it outsourced its credit card security services and I started to get telephone calls from Bangalore asking me about purchases I had made. Rather than reassured by their diligence, they sometimes left me a little anxious about the state of my finances.
It takes more than a language to know a people. Oh for the reassuring tones of Bradford or Livingston call centre! Give me a parka-wearing northern monkey or deep-fried-pizza-loving jock any day — whatever their ethnicity. I know where I am then.
Outsourcing labour-intensive services willy-nilly just to save on costs is the kind of faddish and lazy corporate thinking that can give a booming industry a bad name. It can lead to simplistic and counterproductive incentive structures such as call targets.
Powergen said it would pay its British call centre staff above the going ate and get them to focus fully on resolving a query rather than answering a specific number of calls.
It’s also interesting that The Independent reports that some Indian companies are moving “near-shore”, as they call it, to run call centres from the UK.
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Filed in: Economics,South Asia