Friday, July 17, 2009

British Telecom brings back contact centre jobs to the UK

Amidst all the gloom, it was good to see one positive news story. Yesterday, The Times reported that British Telecom was to bring at least 2,000 jobs back to the UK from India. In some ways it's a very significant move that, despite a recession and the cost problems at its Global Services arm, BT is not looking at running it's contact centre on the lowest possible cost base. In fact, BT is planning to close about half its Indian operation.

I was interested to see in the report that Ian Livingston (the BT CEO) denied that this was to do with customer service, despite a popular perception that BT hasn't got good customer service. The blog has looked at this previously (see the post from last year "CEOs of BT, the Royal Mail and Corel discuss telephone customer service"), and BT were quite open that they did not consider their customer service optimal.

I'm not sure this was a particular problem from their Indian operation, but it is certainly the case that Indian no longer represents the cheapest destination for offshoring and I've never thought India should compete for work on that basis. The problem is (as I've discussed in posts like "Indian Outsourcing, is it in decline?") is that many Indian organisations have competed on a cost basis and so have not necessarily delivered on quality or customer satisfaction. As a result, customer perception (regardless of the reality) is that many offshore contact centres are not going to meet their needs.

BT may have its own additional reasons for bringing the work back to the UK, such as wishing to minimise UK redundancies, but I think the CEO will appreciate any gains in customer satisfaction that this brings!

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