Now lets be totally candid about this and all admit what millions of people already know Offshore Call Centres in financial services are not working. They may be cost effective to the firms off shoring for the moment but in the medium to long term will prove
Financial services is a relationship business and as soon as the connection is broken between the customer anticipating a service and those supplying it, the slippery slope to closing accounts and moving on, is set in motion.
The problem stems from the mistaken notion that electronic data can be accessed from anywhere in the world and trained people can use the data to either offer a service or deal with a complaint. It doesn't work because the relationship anticipated by the
customer is a personnel one and that supplied offshore is anything but. Cold data is worthless if the context of the relationship is lost.
Take the example of exceeding an overdraft limit. In the old days the problem would have been resolved very quickly, with a single call from the bank and a meeting with the person looking after the account. Nowadays offshore call centres call up demanding
on the one hand, to know when the excess is going to be repaid and if unable to pay, they suggest applying for a credit card to clear the debt. Not a very responsible attitude, I must say!
Whilst the debt remains, the off shore call centre continue to call, unable to apply any sort of sensible approach to the situation and with no power to come to an agreement with the customer. It takes customer initiative to arrange an appointment to see
the local account manager, before any solution can be arrived at. However, this is born out of frustration and annoyance at having to explain the same things over and over and over again to a call centre agent, who often does not quite grasp what they are
being told, in many cases this is due to the language barrier. The net result is a trip to the local branch, by which time the customer has decided to move their account elsewhere.
What have we learned by this? In the end the customer needed to make a visit to the local branch, which was what would have taken place, before the offshore call centre was established. The staff in the offshore call centre do not seem to have the same level
of expertise and training in offering good and sound advice to the banks customers, as trained bank staff have, as clearly encouraging someone to undertake more debt, at a higher interest rate, than the existing debt, in order to clear the first debt, falls
into the category of very bad advice.
In addition, the lack of any real power to resolve the issue by the call centre staff and their poor understanding caused the bank to lose a customer, where there could have been a lifetime relationship.
Every customer should be valued by the bank, whether they are an individual or a large corporation; unfortunately this does not appear to be the case, as the small business or personal account appears to be considered insignificant. Banks should realise
that it is the millions of individual customers and small business (as Northern Rock can attest to, which can help to either break or make a bank as well as large accounts. Is this an isolated incident? I doubt it!