January 19, 2015
Dr. Diana Garland
The Plight of Customer Service Outsourcing
How many times have people contacted a service company to pay a bill, update their account or asked service related questions only to find out they can't help them? How about the experience of spending countless hours explaining problems to a customer service agent who doesn’t understand the problem because of a language barrier. The majority of companies are subcontracting (Outsourcing) their customer service in an effort to save monies. The same organizations do not take into consideration language problems associated with outsourcing. Customer service agents may also not have access to clients complete account information because of privacy concerns. Overseas companies and their agents may not have an understanding of the U.S. culture or the service needs of an American citizen. The management team of these organizations do not have the necessary training to handle phone conversations from angry customers. Outsourcing Agents, who fail to meet or exceed a customer's expectations during these calls, affect the companies customer retention.
The chance that a call to the client service department gets routed to an overseas company seems more likely to happen then a person winning the lottery four times in a row. Foreign companies are not familiar with American wants needs and expectations of both product and service quality. There are expectations a client has when on a call. The client that is requesting someone to maintain the account typically assumes that the agent at the other end of the conversation will speak the same language. The officer should take ownership of the call and come up with a resolution to satisfy the needs of the customer. There are a few steps that most clients expect upon initial contact. Account verification, customer audit and a confirmation that the agent understood the problem presented. When there is a language barrier, it tends to cause additional problems for the client. Sometimes the problem causes loss in customer accounts and customer revenue. "outsourcing customer service is associated with a drop of roughly 1% to 5% in a company's market capitalization." (Whitaker, Krishnan, & Fornell, 2012, para.5).
Outsourcing increases calls transferred to managers when an agent is unable to satisfy the customer with a resolution. The manager has to take over the call at this point. The speed and ownership of the call by management, to resolve the problem with a solution that is positive for both the customer and company, are sometimes difficult because of lack of system access. Customer retention sometimes hinges on having systems in place to handle and resolve customer complaints in a timely manner. Companies with a 24-hour resolution saw a higher customer retention rate and more satisfied customers. (Havaldar, Alexander, & Dash, 2011, para 8).
Outsourcing increases negative feedback. When a call is handled by an overseas company the first problem is the language barrier. The second issue seems to be in the number of tranfers that it takes to get your problem resolved. Sometimes, even after multiple transfers, there is no resolution to the problem because of lack of system access. "Sometimes, because a company wants to protect information about its customers, the customer-service provider isn't given complete customer histories and profiles. Or the provider's authority, to resolve complaints, is limited; for instance, the provider may not be permitted to grant credits to customers." (Whitaker, Krishnan, & Fornell, 2012, para.7).
Outsourcing agents do not have supporting resources. Without the ability of the agent to handle the complaint or resolve the problem, companies loose