Call centres in bad need of a makeover

call centres as ‘low-cost sweat shops’ has come under fire from a major contact
centre operator who says the industry’s tarnished image needs a major overhaul.

executive officer Harry Richardson of contact centre operator Merchants, told
Personnel Today in an exclusive interview that providers and clients alike
focus too much on seeking out the lowest costs, and should place more
importance on quality service.

industry as a whole needs to do more work on a number of points,"
Richardson said at the Call Centre Expo in Birmingham. "We’ve allowed our
image to be hijacked as low-cost sweat shops."

criticised businesses and public sector organisations seeking to outsource
contact centres for issuing requests for proposals on which they hope operators
will bid on costs, but at the same time including "37 different points of
risk they want you to take on".

said that this "one-track mindset around price" has put the contact
centre industry on "a treadmill" of "buy on [low] cost, staff on
cost and service on cost". This had taken its toll on service provision
and the quality of staff, he said.

do you want on the other end talking to your customers?" Richardson added.
"Ultimately, we have to educate our customers that you get what you pay

other call centre operators disagree. Stephanie Wilson, vice-president of
European contact centre operations for global outsourcing specialist Convergys,
believes cost will continue to be a key driver of the call centre industry, as
clients would otherwise keep the business in-house.

she said, business quality standards are also taking greater strides forward,
thanks to the efforts of industry professionals and associations, and the
implementation of international ISO standards.

Dee Dee Doke

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