| by Romer Cherubim
( April 11, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is a saying “The customer is always right.” However in these difficult times, the reader could be forgiven for thinking that this proverb no longer applies. Conversely, it would appear that the customer is viewed by some Western business leaders as a nuisance. This is reflected in the decisions of many companies to outsource the work of their Customer Services divisions to the so-called poor countries, for the sake of cheap labour.
The companies making the above decisions, will, of course, argue that they are not stinting on customer service. They will assert that by outsourcing this work, they are using the savings made to re-invest in their infrastructure, thereby improving the core services they offer the customer.
Is it true that these companies value their relationships with their customers? To answer this question, an individual must have experienced a company’s attitude to customer service before the above outsourcing took place. In this regard, it is important to look at a firm’s treatment of the “less pleasant” telephone calls to its Customer Services department.
Prior to outsourcing, it was not uncommon for an irate customer requesting to speak to a company’s Manager about bad service to be told by that firm's Customer Services representative that it was not worth speaking to the Manager. The customer would then be informed by the Customer Services representative that the Manager’s answer to the telephone call would be the same as the one already given. For this reason, the customer would be refused permission to speak to a company’s Manager. Alternatively, a dissatisfied customer might have his telephone conversation with Customer Services cut short by the company’s member of staff on the grounds of the customer’s rudeness. In both these scenarios, the outcome is the same - nobody dealt with the complaint.
After outsourcing, the picture looks better with more telephone calls being dealt with by a company’s Manager and less being cut short. In this way, the companies outsourcing reach a win-win situation - better and cheaper customer service.
Some observers will wonder why it was necessary for a company to outsource its Customer Services offering when that business was coping well enough prior to this move. Some will argue that our world of economic uncertainty compelled that company to take this step. Other more cynical types will say that staff in poor countries are more respectful of their firm’s customers.
Financially, a company may have increased its profits as a result of outsourcing. However, if the rationale for the decision to move a firm’s Customer Services department overseas is that people in less developed countries are more considerate, this calls into question our right to comment on the practices regarding the payment of workers in these countries.
It goes without saying that only those running the businesses mentioned can answer why they now outsource the work of their Customer Services departments. If the response is that their companies were failing to deliver customer satisfaction previously, it would be a sad indictment of our society.