More jobs return to UK as cultural differences put Santander off India

I blogged earlier about a UK company that had decided to bring a call centre onshore to Burnley from Mumbai. New Call Telecom, which provides telephone services and broadband, moved its call centre when it found it would cost less to have its call centre in near Burnley rather than Mumbai.

But increasing offshore costs are not the only reason why companies are bringing call centres back to the countries that they serve.

Banking giant Santander, which has acquired several UK banks in recent years, has announced that it will create 500 UK call centre jobs in Glasgow, Leicester and Liverpool after customers complained that staff in its Indian call centres in Bangalore and Pune did not understand their needs.

Will the combination of language differences and cost increases in India make the UK the best place for corporates to have their contact centres?

Martin Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing Association says a trend could be emerging:

“Santander has listened to its customers’ demands and brought its call centre operations back to the UK. This is not just a matter of rising costs in India, but falling quality.

“Simple processes can be dealt with by interactive voice recognition – but more complex problems require the operative to have a solid understanding of the caller’s culture. This is what helps good operatives open calls sympathetically, drill down to the heart of the problem, then find solutions. India’s staff attrition rates are at an all-time high – people move on very quickly, for just a few rupees more elsewhere. This means there is no time for adequate cultural awareness training, so quality has dropped. NOA has been saying for years that cultural affinity is a must for successful offshoring. Santander’s return to the UK proves how important this is to customer satisfaction.  Taking the cheapest option will never be a route to success, if the quality is not up to the mark.

 “As the costs of doing business in India fall into line with more developed nations, NOA suggests that companies considering outsourcing call centres to India ensure that their suppliers invest (and continue to invest) in intensive programmes of cultural awareness training. That way, they can retain business by competing on quality, not just on cost.”