In these challenging economic times I can appreciate where companies look to cut costs in an effort to stay profitable. One of the measures that many companies have taken is to off-shore their customer service department. Fundamentally I don’t have an issue with this except when things go wrong due to the fact that English is a second language for these representatives. Just this past week I had not one but two incidents where I was dealing with companies who had foreign customer service agents and because they had a hard time understanding me and I them, critical information was not immediately conveyed. What added to my frustrations is that in both cased there was NO option for me to be transferred to a U.S., American speaking customer service agent. I remember hearing a piece on 60 Minutes where the issue of utilizing off-shore customer service agents was causing some amount of consternation, however, in this piece the companies they profiled did point out that if someone was having difficulty or was just plain frustrated that they could request a U.S. customer service agent. Truth be told I thought that was a blanket policy. Needless to say it was not.
When a customer runs into problems and these issues cannot be effectively dealt with in part because you are dealing with off-shore customer service agents, I believe the end result could cost the company not only the loss of that customer but bad publicity thanks to the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
I wonder if the percentage of lost business due to off-shoring customer service with no access to a U.S. representative is equal to the potential cost savings by off-shoring this critical piece of the sales process. I wonder how many CFO’s have taken the time to do some kind of analysis or if they can’t be bothered by it.
I think if enough American consumers have a bad experience the company in question will find out soon enough.
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