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Employers reject offshore call centres due to staff quality concerns

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7th Nov 2011
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A huge four out of five senior executives in English-speaking countries have no plans to offshore their customer contact centres because concerns over staff quality are failing to outweigh cost benefits.

A report by analyst firm Ovum, based on a survey of senior executives at large North American, European and Australian companies, revealed that only 2% intend to offshore their customer service centres in the next 12 to 24 months, while only 10% will do so within 25 to 36 months. The rest have no intention of going down this route at all. Peter Ryan, Ovum's lead analyst and the study's author, said: “Several new barriers to offshoring contact centre work have come to the fore and made it a risker prospect for enterprises. Enterprises feel that the reduced prices simply don’t compensate for the potential to lose customers in these tough economic times.” The four key concerns related to the quality of interaction with end users, the stability of some offshore destinations, pressure from consumers to keep work at home and fears over the safety of data. “The issue over the quality of the interaction with customer service agents and end users is a key one. Customers can quickly become frustrated if they feel their enquiry is not being dealt with quickly and effectively and take their business elsewhere," Ryan said. In today's tough economic climate, enterprises were less willing to send their contact centres to low-lost offshore locations because "they feel there is greater risk that quality will become an issue”, he added. In terms of the stability of some of the newer, developing offshore locations, recent political unrest in countries such as Egypt and drugs wars in countries such as Mexico had generated anxiety about continuity of service, with many enterprises prepared to pay a ‘premium’ to ensure services were provided consistently rather than risk geo-political strife. But Ryan questioned whether providing contact centre services at home would continue to be quite as attractive as it was now. “At the moment, there are good deals to be found in places like the UK and US due to the economic crisis pushing down labour and premises costs and reducing agent churn," he said. "This has helped some businesses to move their contact centres back onshore, but the question is, how long will that scenario be sustained? Could it be that when the job market and economy recover those decisions will be rethought?”

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