Recently, I heard a financial news story about employees at a Bangalore, India call center stealing millions of dollars from Citi Bank customer accounts. They were caught, the money was returned and guess what happened? Citi Bank decided to keep its phone banks in Bangalore. In fact, they wanted to keep the story quiet so no one would guess that they've outsourced their customer service department.
How dumb do they think we are?
The people of India speak English fluently. But no matter how hard they work on Americanizing their accents, and studying American pop culture, they still sound like foreigners.
In the interest of fairness, I will reveal that at one time I made my living as a telephone customer service rep. And I'd always assumed that job or a job like it would be there for me when I needed to return to the work force. So, yes, I am a bit PO'd that my job has been outsourced.
But that has nothing to do with the frustration of dealing with "Bob" or "Natalie," who just don't get what I'm trying to tell them. I spent a good deal of time on the phone with Netzero's financial department trying to cancel my service and get my money back. (I was charged $14.95, even though the disk said "Three Months Free")
Interestingly enough, the people in billing were in India. The people in account cancellation were in the States. Apparently, Netzero figured out that an American accent can save an account and a Bangalore one can kill it.
American companies have good reason to go to India. The average call center worker has a college degree, whereas in the states, the job attracts people with only a high school diploma. And they get all this talent for no more than $5.00 an hour. That's including the health benefits. Over here, it's around $12.00 to $15.00 an hour, not including benefits which as we all know, are going through the roof.
I don't know what we can do about it. My guess is to stop patronizing companies that outsource their customer service departments. As for me, I try to avoid those calls if I can help it.
And by the way, Verizon has opened up a call center in Wilmington NC. So if you have a problem with your cell phone bill, the only accent you'll hear is Coastal Carolina.
"Just reboot it..."