Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HSBC creates 250 UK call centre jobs & offshore in decline

After a week off sick there's been a lot to blog on.

I was interested in the Finextra story "HSBC creates 250 call centre jobs". The interesting thing for me is that these are onshore jobs. HSBC has always had onshore operations but has also been one of the firms that has pushed call centre jobs to India. The onshore operations have tended to focus on high quality customer service (see past posts like: "The contact centre agent experience - First Direct") whereas it's always been my suspicion that cost is the primary motivation for the Indian operation.

I'm not against either cost saving or offshore, I just have strong reservations that India for lowest possible cost is a sensible customer service strategy. If offshore is an appropriate option, I've tended to look at South Africa ("Offshore - why I would go for South Africa over India"). I know there are issues with South Africa as well (SA Telecom and crime being two of the big ones), but the cost savings and availability of English are strong factors in that locations favour.

HSBC is also just part of a larger trend back onshore. Earlier this month Orange announced that it was moving 500 call centre jobs back to the UK from India, but at the same time was shedding 450 onshore administrative jobs. This is very similar to what Lloyds TSB did last month, when it decided to offshore its IT rather than its customer facing operations (I covered the story here on the blog or here on Finextra).

In short, I think the trend for customer service to go offshore has almost come to an end but administration, back-office and IT might all go offshore to a much greater extent.

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