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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report


Only 5% British happy with overseas call centres

May 03, 2004 18:50 IST

Most Britons seem unhappy to have their bank accounts serviced by an overseas call center employee, according to a research undertaken in the United Kingdom, says a report in Scotsman.com.

Only a paltry 5 per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with overseas call centers handling their accounts.

The main concern voiced by the British about call centres being moved abroad was the threat to the jobs in the UK, with 82 per cent citing this as a major worry, while 78 per cent were worried about having problems communicating, according to research by the Alliance & Leicester.

According to ContactBabel a survey published earlier this year, UK call centres employees answer 25 per cent more calls per hour than Indian call centre workers on an average. They also resolve 17 per cent more queries first time around because customers are able to explain problems more easily, said Scotsman.com.

Call centres first opened in the mid-1980s with financial service companies like Direct Line among the forerunners, the report added.

"There are more than 4,500 call centres in the United Kingdom which handle inquiries for organisations such as banks, energy suppliers, phone companies and the National Health Service, with an estimated workforce of 860,000, according to Incomes Data Services figures in late 2003, reported Scotsman.com.

Most western companies are outsourcing jobs and work to low-wage nations like India, which has a huge English-speaking talent pool and where the salaries are a fraction of what employees in the US and Europe charge.

The outcry over the offshoring of jobs has slowly burgeoned, gathering huge proportions, even as firms continue to outsource to remain competitive and survive global competition.

The UK's Communication Workers Union had warned last year that up to 200,000 jobs in the UK call centres could be 'shipped abroad' over the next five to 10 years. Even trade union Amicus says up to 50,000 call-centre jobs have already been lost overseas, most of them from the financial services sector. Despite this, there is no factual information available on the amount of jobs actually offshored from the UK and the US.

Financial companies who have reportedly created call centre jobs in India include Barclays, Friends Provident and insurer Prudential, said Scotsman.com..

"Other financial leaders planning to follow suit in India were the bank Abbey, Lloyds TSB, credit card giant American Express, Britain's biggest insurer Aviva, insurer Axa, life insurance and pension provider Scottish Provident, and HSBC, which reportedly plans to transfer 4,000 call centre jobs to India, China and Malaysia by the end of 2006," Scotsman.com adds.

Indian call centres staff are paid just 80 pence an hour compared to �6 an hour in the UK -- and that they often had to answer the phone using English names -- like John or Molly -- so that they interacted with British callers, The Communication Workers Union claimed, said Scotsman.com.

Thousands of workers staged a day of protest outside call centres across the country in March last year in protest at the loss of jobs to India.



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