With 60 per cent of UK public against outsourcing overseas, Transversal argues that companies should be doing more to reduce costs at home and save UK jobs
The recent trend in outsourcing to off-shore call centres shows that many companies are attempting to gain bigger returns at smaller costs; Indian call-centre salaries are a tenth of those in the UK. However, customer service software company, Transversal (www.transversal.com), argues that deploying web self-service can achieve significant efficiency and cost savings for call-centre operations, safeguard customer service and save UK jobs.
A recent research paper by Mitial (December 2003), the call-centre research company, revealed that 60 per cent of the British public was against outsourcing. In addition a study by Amicus (September 2003), the UK’s largest manufacturing, technical and skilled persons’ union, suggests that off-shore outsourcing is not only leading to increasing concern about UK jobs, it is affecting customer confidence because perception of the practice is so low.
David Fleming, Amicus national secretary for finance and business services, commented: “Research has found that the vast majority of the British public is against outsourcing. The business case for outsourcing off-shore should be open and transparent to shareholders and customers yet this doesn’t appear to be the case, with many companies going ahead regardless.”
There is a small movement of western companies, most notably Dell US, which are now bringing call-centre operations back from abroad citing customer dissatisfaction as the reason. These are currently the exceptions rather than the norm, as companies continue to risk long-term prosperity for short-term gain.
Gerard Buckley, CEO of Transversal, suggests the stigma of outsourced call-centres will not go away: “Overseas outsourcing is increasingly being associated with poor customer experience; with poor call handling times, poor line quality and language difficulties being cited as major causes. A company’s reputation is defined by every direct and indirect experience that customers have. Poor service will tarnish a company’s brand and quickly lead to lost custom.
“Companies are also failing to recognise that their web sites are creating much of the repetitive contact volume that they’re outsourcing. If the Internet is properly embraced as a customer service channel then their websites can handle these enquiries. Not only are there significant cost savings to be had, customer satisfaction improves and so does online conversion. With 49 per cent of consumers preferring to use the web at some stage of the purchase cycle , the issue needs to be addressed at source, rather shipping an unsolved problem overseas”.
Transversal argues that answering customer questions quickly and accurately online is what is needed to reduce contact volumes and tip the balance towards making a purchase. Transversal’s web self-service solutions make it quicker and more convenient for customers to have their questions answered online rather than contact a call-centre. The company’s unique Memory EngineTM technology understands complex customer questions and answers them in the same way as a member of staff. It also frees up call centre capacity allowing agents to handle more calls of increased complexity and value.
According to a recent Forrester survey of 25 leading European financial firms, four out of five will launch online service tools to stem the ten per cent annual growth in e-mail and call volumes. Transversal claims even more significant reductions. Its client Fujifilm, for example, has reduced e-mail volumes by 62 per cent through the adoption of web self-service.
Ironically, while web self-service can stem rising contact volumes and remove the motivation to outsource. It can also help companies that have outsourced to avoid the customer backlash that arises out of poor service. Organisations are now deploying this technology within call-centres to improve agent knowledge and increase first-call resolution. Any time agents are unsure how to respond to a question, they simply input the question on screen to get an immediate answer. The dynamic Q & A process that drives the system builds a knowledge resource that is totally in tune with the needs of an organisation’s customers.
For more information go to www.transversal.com
Founded in 1998 by two PhDs from Caltech and Cambridge University, Transversal is based in Cambridge, England. Transversal provides cost efficient, web-based customer support and knowledge management solutions for customer facing websites and call centres.. Transversal aims to transform the Web from a passive information-sharing channel into an active knowledge-creation environment. To support this goal it has combined the sophisticated concept matching of its Memory Engine™ technology with a modular infrastructure for web-based communications and content management. Current customers include Sony, Direct Line, MFI, Fujifilm, TDK Systems, JP Morgan Chase, DfES, Proctor & Gamble and the British Army.
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