Telstra, the Australian ISP, has laid off its UK hosting support staff and outsourced their responsibilities to India, without telling customers. According to the firm, four employees have been shown the door. Sources said an outsourced infrastructure management contract has gone to Microland, based in Bangalore. Telstra sent …
Standard PR fluff
"Telstra International is committed to providing its customers with the best possible managed network and hosting services and is constantly reviewing its business practices to improve customer experience. "
"Telstra International is committed to providing its shareholders with greater dividends, regardless of the customer experience. "
It seems that they are an endangered species.....
i can see their customer base dwindling as of ... NOW
Cheaper by the dozen
Well what can one expect when UK workers demand a living wage. UK workers should be much more flexible when it comes to salaries. If they were willing to accept 50p per hour for their efforts there is a good chance that this support would not be outsourced. Greedy UK workers, wanting to eat and have a roof over their heads.
"This internal change will have no impact on our customers except to improve their experience thanks to enhanced round-the-clock support and expertise."
If this statement is true I would expect the support team in Bangalore to have absolute command of the English language and be completely familiar with the UK client base and the systems that they now have to support.
Of course Telstra are doing this for the benefit of UK customers. I can't imagine for one minute that cost cutting and director salaries/bonuses have anything to do with it.
This government have a habit of creating new laws, how about a law that forbids outsourcing to a location that is outside the territory of the customer base that is being supported? What? Not fair you say, they will not be able to compete.... Like I care, and no I haven't thought through this statement, I haven't the time at the moment, so rip it to pieces by all means.
I am in Australia and I can say from my own experience and from conversations with others that Indian call centres are just not liked at all. There are a number of dislikes relating to them. First and foremost is the Indian accent, me and others have awful difficulty understanding what they say. Second, they are usually crap, they have no empathy with the caller so their only interest is to conclude the call, so, they read the script and that's your lot, don't enter into any discussion as they have no empathy and no experience of the product in question.
Also, I ask, why do PR people always seem to include phrases like moving forward, going forward, looking forward into PR speak? The use of 'moving forward' in this article makes for total nonsense.
Improved customer experience?
Excuse me but I can think of NO business that has improved its customer experience by offshoring it to India. Come on, someone please help me and tell me of one case where its actually worked.
Anyone tried Virgin Technical Support? You might as well ask your aged aunt for technical advice, because it will be as good and you know she makes a good cup of tea as a bonus.
Why do these companies lie, why don't they just say "We want more cash, more dividends, we are greedy business owners and we don't give a fuck about customer's experiences".
When you have entire banks that sell their wares on the basis that they DON'T outsource their call centres, just what advantage do you think you're going to get by outsourcing? The outsourcing fad has *died* because, with information leakage, Data Protection policies, customer complaints, mistakes in processing, etc. it's not actually worth the bother.
If I were a Telstra customer, I'd just terminate the contract immediately on hearing this. I don't run servers in this country to be able to speak to a foreigner if it ever goes wrong and starts costing me money.
It's very simple - even Microsoft use English/Irish call centres for their English/Irish customers. It's the only logical way to do things. Anything else means that you looked at a column of numbers and chose the smallest, not that you actually *thought* the decision through. I don't know of ANYBODY who DOESN'T complain when they think they have been put through to a call centre in another country.
You're making the mistakes that EVERYBODY complained about companies making 5-10 years ago. Most have since backtracked and the ones that haven't have suffered as a result. It doesn't matter *what* it is, if I have a need to call you for information or assistance (purchasing, support, etc.) then you need to speak my language clearly, you need to be able to understand a wide variety of accents, you need to be able to understand what I'm saying (different to being able to speak/hear the language) and be able to have enough grasp of the company/products to actually *do* quite complicated things.
The day I phone my bank and get put through to a call centre is the day I close my account (in writing, to their UK Head Office). And it's an absolute pain in the arse to change banks. Now, how do you think your customers feel about that cheapy website or crappy server they host with you?
non uk call centers
i have suffered non uk call centers and will ask for a UK call center if i cant understand a word they are saying... which is most of the time!
gave up with HP's india call center and started using EBM! UK based and they do a dam fine job, same with toshiba via XMA (uk based) and found a uk based dell call center !
It's economics stupid...
All those types who keep rabbiting on about this being a way of lining shareholder's pockets, then wake up. It's not - it is all about costs (at least apparent costs). If you are undercut be a competitor that is doing this, then your company will have to do it too. It's happening for exactly the same reason that you flat screen TV is made in a place with low wages. It's price pressure, and once it becomes a matter of relative labour costs, then the outcome is driven by economics.
Of course there are downsides - everybody knows that, but the price pressures are such that companies in the west are effectively forced to off-shore jobs. Certainly now is not a great time to be doing the sort of job that can be done from a third world country.
Nb, when legal services start being offshored, then you can expect politicians to wake up given that so many of them are lawyers. Perhaps we could off-shore the entire legal system? Imagine, the defendent and witnesses could remain in the UK and the whole of the rest of the expensive system - juries, lawyers, recorders, judges could all be off-shored using video links.
Perhaps I'll suggest that to my MP - imagine how much would be saved on legal aid and prosecution costs...
"Our revenues exceed £9.4 billion and we delivered profits in excess of £1.845 billion last year."
So why the fuck are you outsourcing? Wankers!
So long as telstra can make a killing
Why the hell should the board members care as they know that other businesses will always need hosting and security services so although the customer base might dwindle there will always be some new customers or those with rack space or a configuration that would be too much hassle to move in terms of downtime or equipment transport.
@ Roger Jenkins
I suspect that the reason PR / Marketing people pepper their conversations with phrases like 'moving forward' is because they are brain dead.
On the other hand, moving forward, they will probably have a new phrase next year :-)
The problem with outsourced call centres
...is that it assumes that the problem is something you have done, and can be fixed with a simple checklist.
My experience with Virgin technical support proves this. After a long conversation regarding my high packet loss (at some ridiculous cost per minute), the guy admits he does not have the facility to ping my router. What's worse, he would pass me onto a department who could perform a test, and claimed he would not support me because I run linux (even though the issue had nothing to do with machines on my network). I am no longer a customer of such a company because after weeks of calling, i could not get to speak to anyone who cared.
If telstra do the same thing, and don't have diagnostic facility, they are sending a clear message - they don't care about your problem.
Outsourcing turned me into a racist!
Not physically of course, I still have many colleagues, most of whom I consider good freinds who are foreign (sorry, of different race to me) but whenever i have to phone BT, if I get the indian call center I simply hang up, they are, as has already been pointed out script readers. No idea of what my problem is or how to resolve it and many of them can barely speak English or are so heavily accented that I have difficulty understanding.
I chose my bank, insurance etc on the location of the call centers. If I have a problem I want to speak with someone who speaks english in a clear accent (dont care if they are indian or italian or german or whatever so long as I (the CUSTOMER) can understand THEM)
I am sure that some companies could ofshore some remote operations (server monitoring etc) to anywhere in the world but if you are a company supplying a service to english speaking people in the UK your customer service reps should at least be able to speak clear english
I know my predjudices are my own fault and perhaps completley irrational. I know that the person in Mumbai call centre is trying their best but I cant help how I feel can I. Now who do I call to get compensation for being turned into a racist?
@Improved customer experience?
You asked : Lloyds Bank - outsourced phone banking to India a few years ago. Was fine, spoke to intelligent, well educated, polite people. OK, they had accents but the grammar was fine.
The trolls in Lloyds management were worried about NatWest's advertising and the call centres as UK based. Not helped by the subsequent illegal activity of a few criminals selling on data.
If we're all so patriotic, why are we buying so many Chinese goods ? How many companies do we give your money to that are really British ? Even Marks & Spencer - who prided themselves on having 90% of goods made in he UK in the 1980's are now shipping predominantly Chinese and Israeli made goods.
At least people get to vote and strike in India - a country that lost millions of soldiers fighting in the World Wars against out common foes. Are the complaints about Indians or just outsourcing - India today, many African states in the next decade...
Re: Stupid (Lee Dowling)
Sorry Lee, I'm going to pick you up on something. It's not necessarily "outsourcing" that you're against, (or maybe you are as well - I don't know/care), it's "offshoring". That's the term for when big businesses (usually US based) decide to move their business from US/UK/etc to some sweat shop in India (and someone said China is now getting into this particular farce).
What amuses me (very slightly) is that it's usually claimed that this is 'to improve the service to the customer", when what's meant that it'll be cheaper for IBM/HP/CSC/etc to deliver the service the customer contracted for - yes that's it, no freebies, no "value add", just the basics. I'm not aware of the price to the customer going down that much, so you've got to assume that the companies concerned are pocketing the majority of any saving.
And while you're thinking about this, spare a thought for the poor souls in the "1st World" that have effectively been told that either they're not delivering a good enough service, or that someone elsewhere is easily capable to deliver that level of service for a lot less money than you. And these companies wonder why their workforce is demoralised?
I'm unlucky enough (hence the AC marking) to work for one of these companies, and it really saddens me to get calls from (now ex-)customers who are complaining that they can't get the offshored replacements on the phone when they want, they can't get face to face meetings, the offshored folks won't answer a question without a charge-back code, etc. Basically all those niceties that the Europe-based folks used to do for them. To quote an exasperated comment made to me - "when am I going to see the improved service I was promised?"
I dare say that there's management stooges out there (like Matt Bryant - see his posting replying to the treacherous way the OpenVMS team have been dealt with - I'm an ex-VMS admin, so this annoys me) who'll accuse me of anti-Asian racism. This seems to be increasingly the way that the big bucks companies squash any criticism of offshoring. Speak out and you're quietly labelled as a 'white power' supporter or worse. Personally I think it immoral for these companies to go for minimum wage, rather than US comparable, wages for their offshore centres - a fair days pay for a job!
Of course, outsourcing companies can't insist on offshoring, as a customer you're 'always right' so you're quite within your rights to insist on retaining Europe-based support. Heck, if enough customers complain then maybe we'll see less of the K-Mart attitude to customer service (do the minimum for the lowest price). Why do you think that some UK-based orgs are trumpeting that they don't use offshore call centres - it's a positive business advantage that's why!
IT icon because (imho) most offshoring is done merely to put some $$$'s in the pockets of the directors. So yes Lee, I do share your distaste at the movement of jobs eastward. Rant over!
I didn't realise...
Telstra wanted to be bought out? Obviously they will be bought by a firm that doesn't despise it's customers so much. Perhaps they could sack the board now, to prevent difficulties later?
That'll be the bright spark who "thought" of the idea (that is, followed the crowd blindly) getting his coat.
@Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 14th May 2009 12:36 GMT
The real problem is that the decision makers are usually non-technical people and are bean counters. All they see is the bottom line and how they can show that they made a decision that saved the company money. At least in the short term.
The real problem is going to hit these companies shortly. Customers are not stupid. If they don't like the level of service they are getting, they will walk. (Why do you think that Indian call centers are opening up centers 'onshoring' their services? )
Customers (Companies) that contracted for services that were 'offshored' will definitely renegotiate their contracts for lower amounts because they know that the services are not being provided by local talent but by cheap disposable labor.
This is a negative downward spiral because if you don't drop your prices, your competitor will. Damn the SLA because their weasel wording lawyers have made a mockery of what they are guaranteeing to deliver.
With respect to the next AC, again spot on. Offshoring increases the potential risk for IP theft leaving the end customer out to dry. Not all countries have the same criminal code or data theft protection laws. Your ID could be stolen by an overseas worker and you'd have no way of knowing. Here in the US, California enacted a law requiring companies to immediately warn their California customers of any breach of their systems. Of course if their systems and staff are in India, how often do you think that the US based company is going to find out about a breach?
Sorry, but for the record I'm not a bigot but that I do see the risks and the problems caused by 'offshoring'.
Yes you're right, although people generally do have a problem with outsourcing, the specific problem is offshoring.
A lot of the problems are related to accents, but also there are cultural differences that will annoy people. Specifically in india, from my IT experience, people will not take any initiative and will not try and help, they are theree to read a script and nothing more. If you ring up and tell them your problem, even if they understand it, they will still walk through the checklist of questions.
Another issue is again cultural/language based, if you give a peice of information/ask a question, the answer you get may not actually mean the same thing it means here. The main one i come up against is giving a piece of information, and having the person respond with yes or OK, asking did you get that and having them respond yes or OK, *even if they haven't heard or understood you!*
typical racial bigtory
Some how cacausians world mostly want only cushy IT jobs, there will be uproar when ever there is outsource of jobs INDIA. but i never heard any uproar any minial job in their country outsourced or done by foriegn national. i wonder why? may be these folks never did any hard work or think SMARTNESS is comes with race?? STOP whining !
I hate oursourcing.. not indian guys
Out sourcing to india annoys the crap out of me, because of the low skill set, and service you get from the guys in the call centre. I only call them when I have a serious problem, and I always end up talking to the local guys anyway.
That being said, I have worked on deployment projects with some fantastic indian guys, as soon as you re assure them that its ok to have an opinion, show some brains, and take charge, they are brilliant. (Ratan, your still awesome mate ! :D )
I have worked with ex call centre outsourced guys, and its the environment they work in that does it. They are pretty much given a shock collar, and stopped from showing anything approaching brains.
Outsourced call centres are all about call volume per worker.. not resolution time or customer happiness.
@AC Posted Thursday 14th May 2009 12:39 GMT
AC at 12:39 GMT stated:-
'At least people get to vote and strike in India - a country that lost millions of soldiers fighting in the World Wars against out common foes. '
That is a totally incorrect statement that India lost millions of soldiers fighting in the World Wars. I think you will find that the British Forces in total in WWII had around 1 million losses. I am pretty sure that includes the Indians in that figure and that in WWI the Indian Losses were even less. If you would like to backup your original statement with reputable sources then I would be willing to revise my own understanding.
As to Offshoring in general, I've never personally come across a good outsourced offshore call center ever. The repeated attempts to understand each other and the delays in the call centre staff reading from the script, parrot fashion, is simply not worth my time, nor my money, I then switch supplier to one that is onshore until the whole farce is repeated again when they too eventually end up offshored too. It is about time that the Government (UK) implemented some sort of sane solution to this problem before there are no call centres left to turn to in the country - or are they too busy defrauding the masses with the next expenses scam ?!
@AC typical racial bigtory
Probably because menial jobs are hard to screw up utterly and completely. I've tested some of the crud that comes out of Indian code factories - its not pretty, and after the same bug has been bounced back five times and has been claimed to have been fixed each time you have to wonder why you are bothering.
On the other hand, the Indians I've worked alongside in the UK have all been very, very capable...
Makes you wonder if they're just sweeping any old sod with enough fingers to work a keyboard* off the streets to fill the warehouses of Mumbai...
*or run a telephone if insufficient keyboard fingers are available.
Well since this outfit host Phorm what else do you expect?
Call India and pray
that you get someone who can speak understandable English.
I have suffered two bouts of dealing with Indian "help" desks,
1. Microsoft . To get a re-activation Number. God , what a struggle to understand ,what sounded like a Peter Sellers impersonator.
2. Hewlett-Packard . Problem installing new printer. Usual struggle to understand , plus I was told I had a non functioning USB card and to replace it.
It was wrong- My friendly computer man said that Windows XP was the problem,and after reinstall
the printer worked.
I will not purchase anything that has India as a site for customer service
Now use Ubuntu instead of MS .
"no I haven't thought through this statement"
Well that sounds like a perfect new labour law then:)
Buy yourself a swimming pool on expense's immediately
@typical racial bigtory
I don't do business with companies who use off shore support - note off shore support, not outsourcing the two are totally different beasts. I don't care who does the job (in the UK) providing they do it well and provide good customer service, deal with my problem and resolve it to my satisfaction.
Fortunately I live in a democracy and I can make my own decisions whom I do business with, I'm not whining I'm making a decision to deal with UK companies who employ UK staff regardless of their ethnicity, supporting the UK economy. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic - its not racist - I think the UK is one country that does not by default choose products/businesses from/based in the UK, much to our own cost.
Similarly my experience of such call centres is that they operate over very cheap VOIP connections which leads to very poor call quality making it even harder to deal with the heavy accents and unusual grammar. As well as generally having to follow a script they can not relate to what is going on in the UK at the time so any general 'chit chat' you may have is lost whilst dealing with whatever your issue is, as they are generally working in a call centre they have no relationship with you as a customer (or the business they are providing support for) and their only aim is to answer the call and then 'resolve' this issue as quickly as possible so as to please the bean counters.
All credit to people who take these jobs on for trying to better themselves it can't be an easy task learning a foreign language and culture to simply get a job sat in call centre hell to then be confronted by people who don't want to deal with you. I guess one of the other reasons we all get so pissy with such operations is that we get hounded night and day by foreign call centres making sales calls neatly side stepping UK law on such activities.
Unfortunately some bean counters haven't yet realised that its a false economy to off shore business like this.
Unfortunately Telstra is a monopoly & so they will get away with abusing its customers. It would make a slight difference moving to a different company but the problem lies in that every competitor hangs off the Telstra network which when you consider the size of OZ, leaves the competitors in a weakened position.
Most companies will continue to use Telstra because there are so many places that you just can't get anything else. Telstra treats its customers poorly (understatement) & its workers worse. Over the time of Trujillo it hasn't even provided well for its shareholders. Fortunately Trujillo is going very soon & Telstra has got a lot of work to do to improve its reputation which was destroyed by Trujillo.
As for technical support, this should be provided by Australians, not the British nor Indians but it's cheaper.
The bigger picture
This article should be read properly - not just the usual offshore argument.
When you use a hosting customer, you are expecting them to provide as good as or a better service than you can provide yourself. Hosting requires a service provider to ensure the customer support is of the highest level. By outsourcing this support, you are putting a bigger barrier between the people who answer the phone and the people who fix the problem (without even considering where these support people reside). Telstra is obviously signalling its intent to pull out of the managed service market place, and allow their customers to wither on the vine or move elswhere.
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