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Topic: Customer Behavior
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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
Doamericans Really Prefer India/americancallcenter
Posted by Anonymous on
7/26/2005 at 4:26 PM ET
How Do American business people feel?
Is lower price by outsourcing to India really more important than good Customer responses from an American based call center in the U.S.
Everyone seems to talk about the arrogance of reps in India and their customer service seems to make people mad and call centers loose business. I heard that reps in india think the job is given to them because they are better, NO cheaper more like it. What do my fellow business people think: Lower price and bad customer service, or U.S. pride, empathy and better understanding and unity of feeling toward another American. American pride must be all gone and all that is left is capitalism at it's best or is it? Will people choose price over fellow American businesses based in the U.S.?
Peter (henna gaijin)
7/26/2005 at 4:41 PM
I don't think that arrogance comes to mind as an attribute of Indian call centers. I think it is a perception of language barriers (Indian English is different than American English) and the feel that the Indian call center is disconnected from the company's products, so can't provide help beyond the basics. And from time to time, the phone connection also has troubles.
7/26/2005 at 4:51 PM
Going for the third rail, eh?
Whenever I call customer service I ask where they're located. MY goal is to reach some level of commonality so I can get my issue resolve. Yes, it should be the opposite but I'm not calling to make points.
I spoke with a Dell rep in India and he spent almost 2 hours with me helping me get the situation resolved. I was NOT concerned where he was located BUT my dry sense of humor was lost on him so we stuck with the issue at hand.
I've been fighting with SBC for some time on service issues and they've always been local. The issue is resolved...for this month...and then I call again the following month.
Maybe I'm saying if it can be resolved quickly, locate here. If it takes multiple calls (read: high maintanance) locate it there. Or maybe I'm saying just fix it wherever you're located.
Or maybe I'm saying the educational system in the US could use some work. Maybe I should get an option to be transferred to whatever call center I want: "Push 1 for US-based call center" "Push 2 for overseas call center" instead of "push 1 for English".
"Note: This response may be translated into any language using Google functionality"
7/26/2005 at 5:28 PM
As an Indian running an online business in the US, I'll give my two cents.
Disclaimer - I grew up in India and I;ve done schooling in the US and starting my company here.
For the most part Customer Service is a subjective evaluation. When people are shopping around -- especially online -- no one looks for good customer service. PRICE is the #1 factor and not only is it the most important factor, in online purchases it consumes a large proportion of the purchase decision.
The second issue is real-time support i.e. Phone support. If you can get by doing email support -- I think having an outsourced operation at a cheaper labor market is simply capitalism. My experience that the quality of service is the same or better (no language/accent issues) -- yes even better. Thats (in my case) because we dont shaft our customer support guys just because we can -- and they stick around with us for ever. We have a 0% attrition rate (so far ;-)
The third point I'd like to make is that it is incorrect to assume that americans are better than indians or vice versa. The real comparison is : an american getting paid 'x/hr' is compared to an indian getting paid 'y/hr' -- My opinion is that while you may be able to "shoot the shit" with local customer support reps -- how much are you willing to really pay for that "service" -- Given how price sensitive we all are in the online world, I'd say not much!
I also realize that I lucked out and I did not have to go to one of "call center" providers but because of my background was able to open up offices in India for me. So things work out a lot cheaper for us.
My opinions are probably biased...although is'nt "unbiased opinion" an oxymoron!
7/26/2005 at 5:53 PM
More than anything I prefer A "Customer Servant" over mediocre customer call centers. I can't stand arrogance in any of it's forms regardless of where the business is.
For example, I ran into bad service at an Illinois Toll booth and their nationality did not matter. When I'm paying I just want people to treat me good. When others are paying I just want to treat them with the highest form of excellence I can. I wish that bad customer service did not exist in America but there is a bit of arrogance in quite a few businesses. It's almost as if people think you do not have anywhere to go other than them.
Although I want to give my business to Americans naturally (because I am an American) I will not give my business to an American company that will not perform at a level of true servanthood.
Your Servant, Deremiah, *CPE (Customer Passion Evangelist)
C-ustomers P-rovide E-arnings.
7/26/2005 at 9:05 PM
Your question pre-supposes that service by the Indian call center is somehow less preferred by the caller/customer. I'm not sure that's the case.
Most of the time it doesn't matter. If the person at the other end of the line can answer the question and provide the service I need, I don't care where they are.
When there is an attitude problem, it's a problem for me ... no matter who is on the other end of the line. That's as likely to occur with a call down the street as it is halfway around the world.
When I notice that the call is being handled by someone with an accent or some other tell-tale sign, I immediately think that if this person can handle my problem, I'm happy to save the company's money, because ultimately it will be passed on to me as a consumer. Customer service isn't free. I think we all know that, whether we say it out loud or not.
And finally, I find most of the off-shore call center personnel incredibly friendly, helpful, and competent. I only wish most US-based customer service people were as nice, helpful, and easy to deal with.
7/27/2005 at 12:51 AM
The key issue is competency. When outsourcing, a workable level of operator competency is mandatory. It may also be assumed... And in some cases the competencies and KPIs may be specified in a service level agreement. That's the theory.
In practice, competency varies. As michael pointed out, he's had some good experiences with offshore call centres. Others may have had bad experiences which colour their view and future decision making.
A good call centre will take the variability out of the equation by managing competency and regularly checking on execution. Regardless of location! One proviso - the scripts probably need to be carefully checked by someone whose first language is the language of the target market. That's one way to take the language barrier aggravation away.
Another key area is accent. The accent used must be understandable by the target. Better call centres will have this under control.
The caveat is that if you outsource solely for the lowest price, without assuring yourself of minimum benchmark service levels, you WILL have lost prospects and upset customers. Beware and take all these factors into consideration.
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