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Telecommute/outsource offshore?

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Monday October 9, 2006 )

We have the Internet, we have broadband, we have VoIP and all sorts of CRM software and collaboration platforms – we really need to start using these tools fully.

Unfortunately, we still seem so attached to archaic business practices – the quick buck over long term sustainability; and often that’s to the detriment of our customers, local economies…and more importantly, our planet.

Related articles:

Guide to outsourcing
Reassuring your web site visitors

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In an increasing trend of companies outsourcing overseas, a number of local companies, including a bank, have recently announced they’d be outsourcing some call center work to India. A bank. Right. Very smart; that’s sure to boost the confidence of its clients. Not.

Why all this overseas outsourcing? Cheaper? Maybe in theory, often not in practice. It does run a little deeper than that in some cases and the solution may be telecommuting options for local staff.

I’m no xenophobe, and I certainly don’t have anything against outsourcing overseas generally. It’s been a great privilege for me to work with some very talented programmers and designers from all over the world and learn more about their culture.

but..

Whether it’s a web project I’m working on or I’m calling my ISP about my Internet connection; I want and need staff who are intelligible and can understand me. It’s been my experience that most companies seem to have very poor recruitment processes in place for overseas call centers.

Around a year ago, we were hit with a spate of calls from some particularly aggressive overseas marketers trying to sell us Internet access; to the point that I obtained the company details and then called their Australian national marketing manager. He was incredibly open about the situation. When I said to him that I understood it was cheaper to run their operations from India; he said that wasn’t the issue.

He told me that they would love to run their call centers from Australia due to continuing similar complaints, in fact it made more financial sense to as they’d improve conversions; but the problem was Australians didn’t seem to want to work in that kind of job. He said there were plenty of people in Mumbai who were happy to work, but they just couldn’t get through to many of their Indian staff about cultural issues relating to speaking to Australians. Still, they needed heads in headsets.

Cold calling is a tough job, in fact I despise it. My mother was involved in telemarketing whilst in London. She was a very gentle soul and surprisingly, she *loved* the work and did very well – must have been her wonderful nature and genuine passion for talking to people :). What she hated was the work environment – cubicles, noise and especially young “team leaders” whose testicles had only just dropped, yet they strutted around like Mallee bulls and behaved like slave masters.

I really feel that the way companies could attract more local call center workers is to allow them to work from home, to telecommute. Thanks to the Internet, the technology is certainly available and according to this article from the Ecommerce Times, the model has been a roaring success for some companies. I telecommute, and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

Cheap labor isn’t always the answer, in fact it can work totally against you. If your company or the company you work for is considering outsourcing customer communications or canvassing work overseas, ask them to first consider telecommute options for local employees.

There’s not just financial benefits in allowing call center staff to telecommute; there’s also environmental bonuses to consider; very positive aspects which can then be promoted to clients. Learn more in my article on telecommuting and ecommerce.

We have the Internet, we have broadband, we have VoIP and all sorts of CRM software and collaboration platforms – we really need to start using these tools fully.

Unfortunately, we still seem so attached to archaic business practices – the quick buck over long term sustainability; and often that’s to the detriment of our customers, local economies…and more importantly, our planet.

Related articles:

Guide to outsourcing
Reassuring your web site visitors



 

 
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