Low Consumer Confidence in Offshore Call Centres

A new survey conducted by Blue Prism Limited and Sheffield Hallam University, has revealed that 40% of contact centre customers believe that their security is compromised by the use of overseas call centres. The survey also shows that 30% of customers see offshoring as adversely affecting an organisation’s brand or image.

Furthermore, 54% of those surveyed stated that their buying preference would be affected by where a company is located. In the survey, conducted between February and April 2006, 76% of those interviewed were aged 20-29.

The survey supports recent findings by Gartner, which predicts that by the end of 2007, 80% of offshored projects will fail to meet their cost reduction targets. The analyst group reports that the risk of customers defecting and hidden costs in leaving the UK are cancelling out savings from lower wage bills. Consultant CM Insight has also shown, in its 2005 white paper, that offshore operations are costing UK businesses 33% more than originally planned.

Of customers surveyed, 60% had experienced problems with offshore call centre operatives’ lack of understanding of their issues, accent and culture. Customer service staff were, in some cases, seen as being inadequately trained to deal with complaints, or as unable to provide the levels of service expected by today’s customers.

The results also showed that 30% of respondents were generally dissatisfied with the service they had received when using overseas call centres to contact financial institutions, telecommunications companies and utilities companies. Whilst 65% of those surveyed thought that offshoring would lower the costs of a product or service, and 38% thought that offshoring would result in longer customer contact hours, too many companies were seen to be opting to offshore as a cost-cutting exercise, rather than out of consideration for the value offered to customers and how this might affect their long-term business.

Commenting on the results, Alastair Bathgate, MD of Blue Prism said, “The survey’s results confirm that a number of issues are of concern to young customers in particular, who use overseas contact centres. Offshoring contact centre operations is costing far more than many companies anticipated and we’re seeing a number of organisations, most recently Powergen, moving back to the UK. Controlling costs remains a priority for all businesses and there are many cost-effective ways in which call centre efficiencies can be made, resulting in fast ROI and significant bottom-line savings. Offshoring isn’t the only option”.