Monday, May 12, 2008

Offshore Call Centers: Accents make or break the deal

We already know that offshore outsourcing call centers save a great deal of cost for a company. That’s why everyone’s jumping in the bandwagon in the first place. But let’s look more closely at how offshore call centers operate.

It is inescapable to note the weakness of having a call center offshore and that is none other than accent. The thing about customer service is that the person calling for help should be able to trust the one helping him. Generally, irate customers don’t listen to proper reason anymore and would curse at the nearest ear they could find. Now, if the person they’re calling has a strong accent and horrible English, chances are they’d get even more annoyed. The annoyance won’t be so much focused on the problem anymore but would actually fall on the fact that they are being redirected to people who they think doesn’t understand because of their accent and grammar. In truth, a lot of Americans right now even ask the one who answered their call if they really are Americans because they wouldn’t talk to them if they weren’t. Profit goes down, and the number of potential customers will decrease if by word-of-mouth or by some other means, it would spread that your company has bad customer service.

Same goes for call centers that make outbound calls. Aside from the fact that these people are disturbed from their homes by complete strangers, it is also doubly irritating if the person who disturbed them had an accent they could not get. Chances of selling dwindle down to near zero.

It is no secret either that aside from the standard American accent, Asian or Middle-eastern accent on the English language is a bit frowned upon, if not laughed at. That’s why it’s important for offshore call centers to train their agents to speak like Americans. IBM once devised a way to fix the accent problem through a web-based technology that helps improve language skills.

While accents are imperative to actually bagging that customer and making sure they won’t hang up on you, it is also equally important for an agent to listen to the customer. I think the whole call center system is wrong in placing highest priority in finishing a call in the shortest time possible. That makes some agents neglect their responsibilities and forget that their purpose is for the convenience of the customers.

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