Call Centres

Campaigning for all companies located in the UK to have their
call-centres located in the UK.

The WEU accepts that it is potentially immaterial where a call-centre is located so long as the staff can communicate effectively and know their business, which is not always guaranteed in the UK. However the WEU highlights that companies shouldn’t be exporting jobs abroad that can be done for a largely similar price in the UK, this is because wages paid in the UK feed back into the UK economy through both tax and domestic spending. This in turn boosts UK business. Also most call-centres are funded from the payments made by customers for the services provided so it is better if the money stays in the UK and goes into the pockets of our own citizens.
Although much has been made of the language difficulties of operatives from call-centres located abroad the WEU doesn’t believe that is the real problem, especially since there are so many county accents and ethnic languages spoken throughout the UK. Ideally all English-language call-centres should have staff with perfect pronunciation, good diction and elocution, and excellent enunciation but we acknowledge that this isn’t necessarily possible in any country around the world.
The most important service the companies operating the call-centre should provide is to staff them adequately. Most people would be familiar with the statement ‘We are experiencing a very high number of calls at the moment’ The WEU believes that this could show that the company has not employed enough staff to give a satisfactory service and as such they need to prioritise calls.
The WEU wants all companies located in the UK to have their call-centres located in the UK as well. Please help us campaign for this. We want it to be made compulsory that companies inform customers about the location of their call centres.
Related articles:
4,000 HSBC staff face the axe (2013)
by DARREN BEHAR, Daily Mail
HSBC is to axe 4,000 jobs in Britain and switch them to Asia, it announced yesterday.
The self-styled “world’s local bank” will transfer the jobs to India, Malaysia and China over the next two and a half years.
Around 1,400 of the jobs will be lost in HSBC call centres.
Most of the remaining cuts will be in administration.
The decision is part of a trend sweeping British industry, with firms in the finance, airline and phone directory sectors shifting administrative and call centre jobs to low-wage nations.
It emerged this week that National Rail Enquiries was considering a move to India.
HSBC, the world’s biggest bank, made £4.2billion in the first half of this year.
It claims the switch is the only way it can compete in a global market.
Last night, however, it was accused of dismissing the interests of customers and staff in this country.
The bank has already transferred 3,000 jobs abroad.
Staff were told of the latest exodus yesterday and the bank is expected to inform the Stock Exchange this morning.
HSBC plans to close all its processing sites – at Swansea, Sheffield, Birmingham and Brentwood in Essex – which look after administration.
It will also axe some jobs at call centres in Hemel Hempstead, Leeds, Swansea and Edinburgh, although these bases will remain open.
The company said it hoped most of the job losses would be voluntary but admitted some could be compulsory.
HSBC, which has 55,000 staff in the UK, will shed 1,500 in 2004, a further 2,000 in 2005 and the final 500 in 2006.
Chief executive Bill Dalton said: 2This is the next stage in a process which started three years ago.
“It is essential to HSBC’s continued success.
“HSBC has a responsibility to all its stakeholders to remain efficient and competitive.
“This is the best, indeed, the only way, of ensuring job security for our staff worldwide.”
Union chiefs warned of strikes. UNIFI official Rob O’Neill said: “The gloves are off. It’s profit before people.
“We will fight tooth and nail to get the bank to reconsider its actions.
“The world’s local bank needs local people to deliver the high quality service its UK customers have come to expect.
“What is proposed is purely profit-motivated and does not balance the interests of staff, local communities or consumers in the UK with those of shareholders.
“They might as well tear up any corporate social responsibility statements about caring for stakeholders.”
A second union, Amicus, predicts that over the next five years 200,000 jobs will be lost from the UK to Asia.
Typically, wages are up to a third lower and staff are educated to university level.
The CBI has warned that thousands more jobs could be outsourced to India unless the government stops burdening firms with higher tax and red tape.
Some of the overseas call centres have been hit by problems.
There have been complaints that phone directory services in India and the Philippines have been poor due to staff having little grasp of British geography.

Doesn’t matter where the call centre is, it’s about service
by Nick Cheek, Deputy Money Editor Money 16 July 2011
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There was much rejoicing in certain sections of the media last week when Santander announced its intention to bring all its call centres back to the UK from India. Does a call centre’s location matter to you?
The bank, which is consistently bottom of our customer satisfaction surveys, said that the switch was all about improving its service.
Santander’s chief executive Ana Botin commented:
‘Improving our service is the top priority… our customers tell us they prefer call centres to be in the UK and not offshore.’
This sudden concern for customer satisfaction is very laudable. And the move is set to create as many as 500 new jobs in Glasgow, Leicester and Liverpool.
The mass homecoming
Santander is not the only corporate giant to move their call centre operations ‘back home’. Two years ago, BT moved 2,000 jobs back to Blighty. Aviva and Powergen have done the same. And last week, New Call Telecom said it was leaving Mumbai to open a call centre in Burnley.
So is customer service the real reason for the repatriation of call centres?
It’s certainly true that the stereotype of linguistic problems and a lack of local knowledge has lodged itself inside the public’s imagination and, in some cases, these have been a real problem. Local knowledge may well be useful for certain industries, such as railways and even some banking services.
However, accents and an in-depth knowledge of ATMs in Altrincham may not be the real reason for the move – it could, in fact, be all about the bottom line.
The bottom line
Wages and costs are rocketing in India with salaries expected to rise 13% this year. The subcontinent is no longer the cheap destination it used to be.
Claudia Hathway, editor of Call Centre Focus, was quoted as saying:
‘Despite the rhetoric of listening to what customers want, rising costs are the true reason for companies coming back onshore.’
Call centre staff are not at the top of most customers’ gripes with banks – poor products with even worse rates take that prize. But if banks are really listening to consumers, then perhaps moving call centres to the UK is a very small step in the right direction.
Or perhaps it’s just a cynical way of cutting costs and maximising PR opportunities. In a truly global industry, does it really matter if your call centre is based in Lahore or Liverpool?

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