In attempts to keep both customer complaints and climbing costs under control, businesses are bringing their call centres home.
The state of the UK’s current economy, which is becoming ever more relationship-driven as opposed to transaction-led, seems to be really hitting home - which is exactly where a rising number of companies are re-locating their contact centres to. Outsourcing business overseas originally became popular due to its cost effectiveness and high productivity. However, with the 21st-Century consumer much more concerned with quality rather than quantity, there is no better place for customer service to be offered than on home soil, where disconnects in areas such as communcation, strategy and brand identity can be eliminated. Hence the current trend for what's come to be known as re-shoring.
Early this year, EE, the UK’s largest mobile network provider, decided to embark upon its own re-shoring project. EE’s CEO, Olaf Swantee, commented on the reasons for the move: "Within 18 months, I want to be able to say that EE has done for customer service in the UK what it has done for networks,” he said.
David Ogden, account executive at call centre technology provider, Aspect, sheds some more light on the emerging trend. “Today, most companies want to improve their customer experience, because cheaper process outsourcing has historically not delivered the reductions that the industry had hoped for, but instead contributed to overall customer frustration, and reduced quality of service. Organisations are now driven by the choices of consumers: from whom they buy, how they buy from them and how they engage with them. The threat of easy supplier switching constantly looms over organisations’ heads.”
Ogden explained the main limitations of outsourcing such critical work as customer service: “Firstly, being able to understand the person at the other end of the phone is still an unfortunate factor. It pushed metrics such as ‘Average Handling Time’ up, which impacted both the customer on the telephone as well as those waiting in the call queue. The number of repeat contacts with customers also increased, as interactions and the subsequent back office processes were not always completed accurately, or were aligned. Maintaining the level of competence and training of off-shore staff was difficult as attrition was typically higher too; a larger turnover in workforce meant the average skill of the advisors was lower. Finally, an increase in complaints – which are typically handled by on-shore agents – drove the overall cost to serve the customers up to a comparable level as if they’d stayed on-shore to begin with,” he said.