Offshore This! (Outsourcing Tech Support Overseas)

So I call my telephone company and someone picks up 15,000 miles away. I asked the rep where she's from. She said, "I am from Mary-Land sir. How may I give you excellent service today?" The accent was? American... in a high society 19th century ultra-polite sort of way.

"Mary Land?" My brain's editing booth could not screen the snickers in time.

"Yes sir? this is correct sir." She pushed to the next level. "Yes, Mary Land, sir, on thee eastern seaboard. How may I give you excellent service?"

"The eastern seaboard?" Now laughing out loud.

"Yes sir, on thee eastern seaboard of thee United States. May I give you excellent service today?"

The 'broken record' assertiveness technique broke my resolve and she proceeded to give me excellent service, in a deceptive kind of way, though the experience left me queasy thinking about the whole new class of jobs being shipped overseas.

When manufacturing left the United States, the tech sector was supposed to be the new frontier. Americans rushed out to be retrained. Students set their sites on computer engineering. Our tech sector was so good, it created the very systems that made it possible to replace itself. Corporations discovered that an Indian college graduate will work at a call center for 10,000 rupees a month, or just under $60.00 a week. I have no malice for our Indian friends, they only want to work. But our kids are going to have to become proficient at more than playing video games and watching movies to compete with this highly educated and driven mass of hungry labor! Math anyone?

I remember hearing that the receptionist was the "face and voice" of the company and the public would get their first and most lasting impression based on her attitude. (With that much on her shoulders, they should have raised her pay.) Now the whole customer interface has been tossed to foreign nationals. Perhaps there will be a backlash in advertising. "Our tech support is Made in the USA! If the anecdotal evidence on Internet posting boards is any measure, many customers would rather be pierced with punji sticks rather than be taught one foreign language, (the computer) by someone with another foreign language! Written scripts are repeated ad nauseum with no ability to converse off-road and actually make the customer feel understood. Below is a sample, your results may vary.

Reactions to Foreign Customer Service

"I called HP Cares. They didn't. I spoke with three or four representatives. They all had limited English and spoke with an accent. They all asked me the same set of questions. Many asked the same questions over and over and over again. They all refused to believe that the sticker was not there. They all treated me like I was simply too stupid to find it or maybe I was just blind. And, they all put me on hold?"

"We could not understand each other. Even the simplest English terms were incomprehensible to her. I said goodbye and went through the tedious re-calling process, waiting another 20 minutes or so on hold. The second technician could also not understand English, and the connection broke after a few minutes, so I called a third time, going through the whole waiting drill?"

"I will never purchase another Dell product, ever again. And everyone I know will not purchase their products either?"

It appears that companies may also be outsourcing the trust they've built in their brand, along with customer loyalty and retention. I think I'm on to something here. Let's go American business! Advertise your "Onshore" Calling Center!!!

The call centers are not only in India, they are coming online anywhere a building can put up some computers, chairs and get broadband. A Costa Rican tech support rep working for Toshiba complained in a posting that his job was outsourced to Turkey. Kencall of Kenya, provides its own generators and satellite uplink. I bet they don't have an employee snack room though.

Foreign Outsourcing vs. Offshoring

"Foreign Outsourcing" is the hiring of a foreign company to do some of your work, while "Offshoring" is the creation of a wholly owned foreign subsidiary which gives the company greater control. According to the financial consulting firm Deloitte and Touche, there was a 38% increase in the number of financial institutions with offshore operations in 2003, with an estimated 500% increase in offshore jobs. See "The Titans Take Hold" (PDF)

Call center work is only the tip of the iceberg. There is an ever expanding list of higher level technical positions being exported from a variety of industries. Engineering positions, architectural design work, computer programmers, computer-generated animation, financial and legal research, insurance claim processing, software coding, AutoCAD, technical drawings and billions of dollars worth of back office services are now being moved from the first world to the third world by mostly the larger companies. This is making it difficult for medium sized businesses to compete.

India is well positioned to receive much of this work because it has a large English speaking population from its colonial history with Great Britain, and a growing pool of Internet-wise graduates ready to work at low Indian wages.

Concerns over data privacy and data theft loom large. Three employees of Msource in India allegedly siphoned off $350,000 from Citibank customers recently, using information obtained over the phone, according to The plaintiffs who will go through a living hell trying to gain back their financial identities will not be outsourced, nor will the local judges and jury who will hear the case. A couple other factors that come to mind when considering foreign outsourcing or off-shoring, are Islamic terrorists hostile to western interests, civil unrest, security costs, infrastructure concerns and the global war on terrorism...just off the top of my head.

Growing up we were told to eat all of our food because people were starving in other countries. I remember being chastised for suggesting that we should ship out my left over peas and carrots. Today we should tell our kids to study hard and think outside the box because people in other countries are hungry for their jobs!

Let's Laugh and Have Faith

On a lighter note, my wife called our credit card company and was transferred to "Mumbai". (Bombay) In one minute she was squaring off with the mores of a patriarchal society. She was told that she would have to "consult with her husband and obtain his permission and consent, and gain his approval."

The policy was no doubt born in America, but something in the tone and wording communicated female inferiority and wifely subservience. The idea of being "granted approval" was not going down easy. There may have been some gagging.

"BUT...IF, my husband doesn't pay his bill, THEN you'll want to talk to me! Will I need his "approval" and "consent" and "permission" for MY credit to be hammered?"

I was handed the phone at a certain mid-point in the intercontinental shoving match. Something about "your husband will have to make that decision".

I got on the phone and had a lovely conversation. We marveled at how all of this can be taking place over thousands of miles. Actually I rather enjoyed the experience. Perhaps I can outsource our marriage counselor.

Rick David writes for a Merchant Newsletter @ Merchant America. He also writes a humor column called, "Don't Laugh It Could Happen To You" for

Problem Solving - Think Cleopatras Ass

Picture the scene. Anthony pops down to the guardhouse, partly because he wants a break... Read More

Communicating CEOs

I see a PR firm has done a survey on the amount of time Canadian... Read More

Safety Policy Sample Outline

Writing a safety manual is a tough job and most larger corporations outsource such jobs... Read More

6 Ways to Keep Things Simple

Six Ways to Keep Things Simple We can have greater success with our Clients when... Read More

Follow Up: It Makes A Difference

A while back the headlight switch on our minivan quit working, so early one Saturday... Read More

Difficult Employees-Poor Performance - 10 Tips for Dealing with it in the Workplace

I personally struggle with the term 'managing people' - because I firmly believe that people... Read More

Time Management and Team Development - The Yes and No of It

Sometimes.In fact making some small changes to the circumstances when we use these two little... Read More

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Today's successful organizations are the ones which carry on open and honest communications with their... Read More

Creating Advisory Boards

There is no substitute for soliciting the opinions of the executive team, the people who... Read More

Make It Easy to Reply - Voice Mail That Works

If you are like most business people, voice mail has both simplified and complicated your... Read More

The Seven Cs: Partnership Danger Signs - Conflict Becoming the Norm ? Part 1

A series of articles exploring the seven critical areas that can indicate a partnership is... Read More

3 Ingredients of Highly Profitable Organizational Change

As waves of organizational change sweep across the business landscape, a huge question arises: What... Read More

What Your Employees Want You to Know (But You Might Be Afraid to Ask)

This is a challenge for every company owner and manager. You have tremendous plans for... Read More

Turbo Charge Your Career With The Most Powerful Leadership Tool Of All: The Leadership Talk Part 3

To develop and deliver a great Leadership Talk, you must understand that every Talk has... Read More

Tap Employee Passion For Business Success

Meriwether Lewis set the stage for the Corps of Discovery's success before one single "employee"... Read More

How Businesses Can Stop Wallowing in Bad Debt and Prevent It in the Future

"Become the Squeaky Wheel", a new book just published, explains that getting customers involves more... Read More

Why Management Kills Creativity

Ten or so years ago, an international consultant, specializing in employee involvement and team development,... Read More

Why Half of All Mergers Fail After the Honeymoon Ends

Marriages and corporate mergers in America have at least one thing in common, more than... Read More

Tales from the Corporate Frontlines: Providing Career Opportunity

This article relates to the Career Opportunity competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. It... Read More

Results of Poor Cross Cultural Awareness

Results of Poor Cross Cultural Awareness. Having a poor understanding of the influence of cross... Read More

Technology & Communication

A study a couple of years ago found that 63% of executives were making fewer... Read More

Management to the Vision-Contribution and the Role of Compliance

As a manager our role is to:1. Establish the vision, or our contribution to the... Read More

50 Great Ways to Motivate and Not Break the Bank

Quick, Easy, and Even Fun! 1. Smile, say "Hi! How are you doing today?"2. Regularly... Read More

What is the Most Difficult Part of an Improvement Program?

Answer: Starting one.Most of us realize that there is probably a better way to perform... Read More

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process focused on satisfying customers by delivering nearly perfect... Read More

Innovation Management: The Hype Cycle

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

He Hate Me: Turning Their Bad Attitude Into Your Great Results

"He Hate Me" was the nickname of Rod Smart, a leading rusher in 2002 for... Read More

The Red Phone - Management Consulting in 30 Seconds or Less

Modern business faces complex problems; management often calls upon highly-specialized consultants to help them address... Read More

Management - Mary Poppins Style!

Mary Poppins describes a style of management which has for too long been hidden in... Read More

3 Simple Things the Best Managers Do - And You Can Too!

If it's so simple, why don't managers all over the globe get this right, every... Read More

A Rare Leadership Skill: Dealing With People Who Want Out By Offering Crowns For Convoy

As a leader, you'll inevitably be faced with people wanting to leave your team or... Read More

Look Good on Voice Mail

Your use of voice mail tells others a lot about you. Here's how to make... Read More

Creativity and Innovation Management ? Idea Progression

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

A Checklist for Organized Executives

I could begin this article by providing a checklist of organizing techniques for you to... Read More

Interviewing Applicants Can Be Hazardous to Your Wealth

1st Fact: Interviewing applicants is the most common way companies decide whom to hire.2nd Fact:... Read More

3 Tests To Hire The Best

Question: What's the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to have profitable, productive, and honest employees?Answer:... Read More

A Sense of Humor in the Workplace ... Is it Me? Or, was that not funny?

When I was first initiated into Corporate America, I had a sense of humor that... Read More

Have You Fixed the Broken Window?

Left alone it doesn't take long for a building with a single broken window to... Read More

No Time to Focus on the Big Picture? Try Focus Management

E-mail, voicemail, "got a minute?" interruptions, multiple projects and competing priorities. Whether it... Read More

Employee Turnover: Seven Reasons Why People Quit Their Jobs

There are many reasons why good employees quit and go to another company, perhaps even... Read More

Innovation Management ? some ideas are better than others

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea generation whilst innovation can be defined... Read More

Group Decision Making : Are the Decisions Really Made by the Group?

GROUP DECISION-MAKING: Many managers feel they are well-versed in areas of group effort, such as... Read More

Dissenion Down On The Cubicle Farm

How content and satisfied are American employees? Not very!According to Corinne Maier, a psychotherapist and... Read More

Online Business Peace of Mind

Is your online business disaster-proof? Online businesses face a unique set of challenges. Unlike our... Read More

Employee Motivation - Access Their Unique Talents

Your people are invaluable to you. They are the lifeblood of your business or organisation.... Read More

Proven Secrets to Keeping Your People and Increasing Your Profits

Why are people changing jobs so quickly these days?Here are a few reasons why:They have... Read More

Having Your Phil

February 2nd, at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time on Gobbler's Knob in a small town... Read More

Get Out Of The Stone Age: Give Leadership Talks

160 years ago, the newly invented electric telegraph carried the first news message. The message... Read More

CEOs Are Great, Top CEOs Are Greater

People in leading positions are often in a dilemma: on one hand they are supposed... Read More

Hows Your HUB?

Marketing gurus are always coming up with new lingo but oftentimes they are restating the... Read More