The Nationwide Building Society has announced plans for a substantial investment in its UK call centre operations, in direct contradiction of industry trends for shifting jobs to cheaper offshore locations.
The Society says it will open a new call centre in Sheffield in the Summer, initially employing around 60 people, but with plans to expand to 180 over the following three years.
It is also putting the finishing touches to a major refurbishment of existing centres in Swindon and Northampton, where 775 employees currently field an average 18,500 customer contacts a day.
Approximately 20% of all Nationwide sales are made through the Society's call centres
Nationwide is contrasting its approach with that of the majority of its peers in the sector, who have stepped up the transfer of jobs to offshore centres in an effort to cut down on costs. Northern Rock, Royal Bank of Scotland, Alliance & Leicester and HBOS have all made similar pledges to retain UK staff.
Philip Williamson, chief executive says: "Nationwide is a mutual with strong links to the communities in which we operate and we have no plans to desert these local communities in favour of overseas call centres.
"Call centres abroad may suit some of our competitors, but they are not the right option for Nationwide and we are aware of some commentators’ concerns that some countries may not have the same level of data protection for consumers that exists in the UK."
The refurbishment of the Northampton and Swindon call centres includes the introduction of new technology linking transactions across all channels, and improvements designed to create a better working environment. Further investment over the next three years will create nearly 200 new call centre jobs in the UK, says Williamson.
Tim Poil, general secretary of the Nationwide Group Staff Union welcomed the announcement: "With so much media focus on financial services providers switching jobs away from the UK, this news will remove any fears that our members may have had about their own job security."