One of your customers places a call to the support line listed on your website hoping to solve an issue they’re having with one of your products or services. After the usual “Please listen carefully because our menu has changed,” and the “press 1,2,3…” dance, they finally get someone that will resolve the matter.. “Hello,” says the heavily-accented voice on the line, “this is Margret, how can I help you? ”Immediately they realize that the person they’re speaking to is in some call center Philippines twelve time zones away. Their heart sinks, along with the hope that they will resolve the issue on the first call. Their fear is that they’re going to have to deal with someone who doesn’t fully understand English and what they are really trying to tell them.
This kind of reaction is not about racism, it’s about a real and psychological distance. Once technology has made it cheap to move phone calls anywhere on earth, big companies dropped their U.S. customer service agents in favor of outsourcing to call centers half way around the word to save on costs. The problem is the person your customer spoke with was not only distant physically but culturally as well.
In the last five years, the trend of outsourced, overseas call centers has begun to reverse. It seems companies are listening to the growing dissatisfaction of customers who do not want to talk to someone 10,000 miles away. In order for firms to stay competitive in today’s market place they must provide high quality customer service. Many companies have decided to move their customer service back to the U.S. or to a nearshore location like El Salvador. What caused them to reevaluate? Perhaps the biggest reason for the change is that many businesses were losing customers due to the poor quality of customer service. In fact a percentage of customers will not say what they feel rather they’ll simply walk away. There is as yet no way to know how many people do that or what exactly turned them off. The only sensible way to mitigate that blind spot risk is to provide optimal customer service; to adopt a philosophy that says “we’ll do whatever it takes to make you happy.” When businesses use native English speakers that understand their culture, customers are better able to communicate with call center staff. This not only increases customer satisfaction but also increases the percentage of first call resolution which lowers the amount of times customers have to call.
Companies are still looking to save money and keep the quality of their customer service to a high standard. What now?