Staying local: outsourcing in the UK vs overseas
by Joanne Varey, MD, Granby Marketing Services
Monday, March 25, 2013
The location of contact centres is becoming increasingly dispersed with countries such as Sweden, Egypt, Northern Ireland and Britain becoming ever more popular for a variety of reasons. Of course, contact centres here in the UK and overseas both have merits that need to be considered when setting one up.
20 years ago, India was the destination of choice for overseas contact centres, and when comparing countries that are currently popular, they both have much in common, the obvious being language.
English is either the first or second language in both India and the likes of Sweden and Egypt. Likewise all countries that are popular with overseas call centres have a robust and reliable infrastructure.
Today, it’s rare to find a call centre where English is badly spoken. With the increasing importance of impeccable customer service and the fact that consumer are more demanding and expecting better service, companies are realising that the contact centre plays a key role in a company or brand image. The contact centre is a vital part of the customer journey and any business which doesn’t recognise its strategic importance will do so at their own peril.
As an industry, contact centres are hard to police with areas such as PPI tarnishing the industry and giving it a bad image. Calls are untraceable which makes any complaint procedure impossible. With this in mind it is ever more important to invest in optimising the customer journey and infrastructure to ensure these annoyances are avoided.
So you may well ask what is better; setting up a contact centre in the UK or abroad? Setting up a call centre in the UK means that workers share a common language and cultural values, technologies are first rate and there is a good talented workforce. Northern Ireland has become an increasingly popular destination for call centres over recent years – there is no language barrier, travel is easy and costs are generally lower than mainland UK. Likewise, Sweden is beneficial due to most workers being multi-lingual with fluency in English and through having a good infrastructure and communications networks. Similarly Egypt has a skilled linguistic workforce and a good infrastructure. Due to the time difference, both the US and Europe benefit from outsourcing to Egypt, however, due to the Arab Spring and their unstable government the future of the industry is not 100% secure.
Both UK and overseas have valuable merits, however, keeping contact centres in Britain is good on a number of levels including investing in a British company and providing employment for UK workers.
While companies may not see the initial financial rewards, the gains made in quality control and ownership make for better results. Management can visit the centres themselves, without the long-haul flights and they can ensure that people representing their brand are doing so as required. On top of these are of course the language and cultural values, all of which go a long way to ensure the brand values are adhered to and upheld.
So while it is a personal choice of companies, it is always beneficial to support ones own economy and internal workforce. In this case where everything from the infrastructure to the talented workers, cultural values and language skills are readily available, the UK is definitely worth considering when deciding where to set up your contact centre.