Few phrases in the world inspire the same level of disgust as “For support, please call…”. You find the number, and you can feel the irritation building as you dial. You know that as soon as you hit that last digit, the next hour or two of your life is no longer yours. Instead of checking emails, or the next bit off of your to-do list, you know you’re going to spend that time listening to outdated music and pressing numbers.
Call centers are a huge advantage from the business side, but can be a nightmare from the customer’s perspective. Where you base your contact center says a lot about your company. For decades, overseas call centers were the way to go. That perception is changing in Australia, and all over the world. In the age of globalization, companies have started to see the advantages of having a call center close to home. Imperatif understands that not all customer service and appointment setting services can be taken care of in-house. However, staying in the safe region has several benefits. If your contact centre is based in Australia, personnel quality is assured, resources will be more efficiently allocated, and information will be better protected.
2015 saw a massive study done by Global CX. Entitled the “Wakeup Call Report,” the focus was the current status of customer service and phone answering service calls. 76% of those surveyed said that customer service is a direct indication of how important the customer is to the company. One third of those surveyed said they’d rather clean a bathroom than deal with customer support. One source of this frustration is non-local call centers. Once the people trying to help you are taken out of your region, it can be very difficult to communicate ideas and problems. If you are in Australia and talking to someone in Mexico about your computer problems, language barriers are going to be a problem. Without that sense of cultural familiarity, the customer is automatically isolated. Now there are two problems: The original problem they called about, and the fact that they have nothing in common with the person who has been assigned to help. Technical specifications are difficult enough to describe to the person you are sitting next to, even without a language barrier. Regional phrases and styles of speaking can be directly offensive to someone of a different culture. This phenomenon is so well known in business communities it has become a television trope in some countries. Australian call centers eliminate that problem. Locals technicians working to solve the problems of local customers tears down the cultural and linguistic walls of foreign call centers. Accents are similar if not exactly the same. Regional slang and terms are understood and exchanged. Customers rate companies higher when they feel like they are part of the community, not someone calling from half a world away. Companies rise and fall based on customer satisfaction, and the bottom line for satisfaction is great customer service.
Overseas Call Center – Pains for your customers
One of the biggest complaints in the above-mentioned survey was a lack of helpful assistance on the phone. Customers already have questions about the product, and there’s nothing more frustrating than hearing the doubt in the voice on the other end of the line. The best way to maintain customer confidence is to inspire it from the first word. If your employees don’t understand the concept, or the language, the customer will already feel defeated.
Good customer service needs well informed workers. Well informed workers begin with exceptional training and learning practices. Education is not global, either in style or availability. Western schools tend to focus on the causes behind a situation, while eastern education focuses on raw data. These two systems are compatible, but not interchangeable. People who grew up in one system have a difficult time adjusting to a new system of teaching. When you set up an English-speaking call center in a foreign country, your company cannot start training on the product immediately. Instead, time, resources, and human resources are spent educating the workforce on how to properly speak English. Before any product information can be exchanged, basic communication has to be established. This can be a nightmare, and is completely bypassed by setting up shop in-country.
The bottom line for businesses is money. If you’re not making it, you’re losing it. Only dead companies stand still. Business resources need to be managed in such a way to make them grow, and flourish no matter what the market is doing. Every dollar matters to the bottom line. Building a new call centre, or renovating an existing contact centre, can cost up to 12.00 USD per square foot. Each workstation can cost upwards of $1000 USD, and then there’s the cost of employees. Going overseas reduces labour costs, but there are a number of often hidden fees. What about staying in your home country? While labour costs might not be the lowest in the world, keeping your call centers in Australia might just make good business sense in the long run.
Having your call center in the region allows for ultimate control over quality. If there are problems with any workers, that can be dealt with quickly and effectively. If there are massive customer complaints, you won’t need to travel halfway around the world to deal with them. When it comes to technology, keeping your call center close to home allows for easily updated and monitored technologies. Keeping your technical utilities up to date can be the difference between a satisfied and effective workforce, and just another run-down office full of discontent and melancholy.
The Advantages of Local Call Center
A happy workforce is an effective workforce. According to Lee Iwan, president of the Iwan Consulting Group, an apathetic worker can be poisonous to good customer service. Call centers that are equally distant from the corporate headquarters and the customers they are serving are isolated and insulated. Even the best worker cannot care about a customer who is several times zones away. That lack of care will affect the customer service of your company. However, if your customers call the help line, and recognize the accent and unbroken English, there is an instant link between the two. That connection helps give workers purpose and motivation to be the best they can be. When workers are insulated both from the people in charge, and the people they are serving, it is easier for them to feel as if they don’t matter. If their jobs don’t matter, or they don’t matter personally, then the quality of the work will suffer.
While not every last detail is necessary, workers should feel as though they are an important part of the process. If management is open with plans and feedback, employees will be empowered, and take charge of their own work quality. That level of transparency means that good work is rewarded, and shoddy work is dealt with. This is much harder to accomplish when the workers are halfway around the world.
Expenses are part of the business world, and controlling the outflow of money is vital to the health of your company. Maintaining tight security over your connected systems is key to making sure you won’t be attacked. Cyber security is a multibillion-dollar business, and identity theft has become a daily occurrence. In 2014, according to safesmartliving.com, 1 billion records were stolen, and 19 people discover they are victims every minute. Cyber security is an ongoing battle between order and chaos. The question is: How protected are you from the thieves at the gate? You hope your company is going to make headlines in the future, will it be as this decade’s success story, or the most recent corporate empire to fall. Running a foreign call center means using foreign computers, with foreign technological systems. If there is a data breach, you will spend hours on the phone with the security company, through their call centers, searching for answers. Any money you saved moving overseas is consumed by the loss of public trust, and the repair costs from the theft. Once your call center is outside of your country, you have given away a lot of control over your company. Keeping inside the country, your data network is accessible. While data hacking is still an ever-present risk, you will not have to worry about foreign law enforcement to catch the thief.
Physical security is also less of a problem when you utilise an Australian call centre call center. Workers who feel distant and unknown are more likely to commit theft, or take less care of corporate equipment. Statistics vary from country to country, but employee theft in the United States resulted in $50 Billion USD in 2015 alone. It isn’t an occasional pen or coffee cup, either. The median amount stolen was about $175,000 USD. It isn’t just the lowest man on the roster either. About a third of all corporate theft is committed by managers or above. Proximity to leadership is a great way to prevent employee theft. When workers feel as though the community is more of a family, and they are more than just a number on a sheet, there is less motivation to hurt that community. Proximity also allows problem employees to be dealt with quickly and efficiently, ending a bad relationship before it poisons an office.
The short term benefits of opening an overseas call center are obvious, and over the last few decades, the idea has been embraced by the business community. However, as time has passed, flaws in the system have become
more and more apparent, and catastrophic. Keeping your call center in Australia will allow you to maintain your quality control. Having a local call center will improve customer relations, allowing your customers and your employees to feel closer because they are closer. Australian call centers allow for increased security, both cyber and physical. Most importantly, Australian call centers make more financial sense over time, as short term cost savings will be eaten up by hidden overseas costs. No matter how you look at it, placing your call centers in Australia makes sense.
Imperatif has been in the business for quite a while, and will create a call center solution based on your needs. Let us help bring you to your customers. Contact us now.
Imperatif Call Centre Partners
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