UK bank Lloyds TSB says its contact centre in Mumbai will no longer handle customer calls from the UK because interactive voice recognition (IVR) technology introduced last year has reduced the number of calls sent through to staff.
Lloyds says the new automated service, which is designed to handle straightforward enquiries electronically, has proved extremely popular. The system was expected to cut the volume of calls put through to centres by eight per cent, but the bank says the actual drop has been 26%.
Sally Jones-Evans, managing director, telephone banking, Lloyds TSB, says: "The number of overflow calls going into Mumbai has been steadily reducing and it has now got the point that all calls are being comfortably handled by our staff in the UK."
All calls will now be handled by Lloyds TSB's 10 contact centres in the UK. The bank says the 180 call centre workers in Mumbai will be redeployed and handle back office processing.
Although the bank has stated that this move is due to falling call numbers, finance sector union Amicus welcomed the news.
Steve Tatlow, assistant general secretary of the Lloyds TSB Group Union argues that the bank's reputation has been "seriously damaged" due to customer dissatisfaction with having to deal with the Indian call centre.
Earlier this year insurance firm Norwich Union said it was bringing 150 call centre jobs outsourced to its offshore centres in India back home to Britain, while Powergen said last year it was closing down its call centre operations in India and bringing the jobs back to the UK following complaints from customers.
The news that Lloyds TSB is returning call centre work to the UK comes as the bank introduces a national "direct dial" scheme which enables customers to telepone their branches directly.
Lloyds TSB has already piloted the scheme with 42 of its branches and will roll it out across 350 branches from 7 March. The rest of the bank's 2,000-strong network will be included from the start of April.
The bank says its central call centre takes 2.25 million enquiries a month and claims just five per cent of these need to be put through to branches. But Jones-Evans says: "We do appreciate that there are going to be times when it makes sense for customers to call straight through to their local branch and if they don't have the direct number, it can be frustrating."