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NatWest rides the offshore backlash

Picture the scene. Three UK banking personnel discuss where to locate their new call centre during a brainstorming exercise at a resort in Spain. While two of the bank staff bounce around ideas for various exotic overseas locations, the third chips in with the novel suggestion of locating the call centre in the UK. This is greeted by hoots of derision from his peers who settle instead on Delhi.

This is the story board for a new TV ad campaign being aired in prime-time spots from UK bank NatWest. The punchline: “Talk to a call centre in the UK”.

Just four per cent of people have had a good experience when dealing with a call centre, according to a recent survey by YouGov. Over half of those asked said their biggest gripe was having to contact call centres outside the UK and more than a third admitted to shouting and swearing at agents because they got so frustrated.

Moreover, the cost advantages to financial services firms of operating call centres in offshore locations are diminishing due to rising wages in countries such as India, according to research conducted by Compass Management Consulting. Poor service and language difficulties can also result in calls to offshore centres taking twice as long compared to UK-based operations, states Compass.

In airing the new ad, NatWest is simply tapping into this growing resentment among UK consumers. It can’t be long before other banks follow suit.

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Paul Penrose

Paul Penrose

Head of Research

Finextra

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06 Oct 2006

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London

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