Offshoring has for the last five years become the key buzzword for UK businesses, particularly for call centres. The transferring of several tens of thousands of jobs to the Indian sub-continent has been seen by many companies as a key strategy whilst customers of these companies are less than impressed.
Norwich Union has got rid of or announced the loss over 4,000 staff in recent weeks on top of the previous thousands who have lost their jobs in the UK in recnt years. So when I phoned up Norwich Union about my staff pension, I got put through to India and the man who answered the phone told me that there was no such thing as a staff pension and refused to put me through to a UK based person who could help me. Presumably he is employed because Norwich Union will not be providing him with a pension ? Norwich Union apologised to me in writing and on the phone when I wrote to the local paper in Norwich about my problems with their Indian call centre and informed me that they do have a unit who specially deal with problems from their Indian calls centres. However, get this, in order to make further savings, even this unit who deal with problems is going to be scrapped in a few months. How's that for customer service ?
Nat West have made much of their use of UK call centres only, and I have to admit that I switched my power supplier recently on the basis that they used UK call centres only, so there is certainly a market for UK call centres and a desire from British people to switch to them.
The other big problem is that Indian call centres are not subect to UK laws, meaning the financial services act does not apply there, and recent TV programs have shown some overseas call centre staff selling personal details for £12 a time.
So what can those of us do who want to use UK based firms who dont "offshore" their staff ? Well so far it's been difficult. However I was interested to read about a firm in Norfolk who have set up a website which links to companies that use staff based in UK callcentres. The website is http://www.job-savers.com/ . It appears that they link to companies (and presumably in return they receive a fee) who do not offshore their staff.
It's a nice idea for those of us who prefer to use UK callcentres although I am slightly confused as to why the RAC is on their list given that the RAC is owned by Norwich Union. However, I think it is a good idea and wish them luck.
One final thought. Many US firms who started the whole offshoring thing ten tears ago have started to repatriate jobs to the US because a loss in customer support for those firms whilst one study showed that UK call centres deal with 25% more calls and have a 30% higher satisfaction rating.
Food for thought perhaps.