Off-shoring and the Invasion of the Computer Puppets


It turns out that off-shoring tech support and customer service might not be such a great deal for companies after all. A paper titled, “ Does Offshoring Impact Customer Satisfaction ?” posted on for feedback, touches on the subject. There is plenty of evidence that off-shoring saves companies money on their bottom dollar, but what hasn’t been looked at until now is how it affects customer satisfaction and loyalty. What is surprising is not that the papers over all conclusions that in customer service off-shoring is bad but that back office functions like tech support can be a good thing for customer perception. I find that hard to believe from a tech’s aspect.

If you’re the tech Guru for your circle of friends and family you know that they all cringe at the thought of calling tech support. They will relate horror stories of speaking to someone claiming to be named “Bob”, who is reading text from a computer screen in a hard to understand, thick accent. This is why they call you with their technical woes. The paper however suggests that this alone isn’t what causes customer dissatisfaction, but rather the perceived lack of expertise.

I like to call these people reading from computer screens “Computer Puppets”. You say something, they hit a few keys and start reading a response. This is an attempt by companies to improve and homogenize their interaction with customers. Customers on the other hand find it frustrating. They want someone with quick concise answers to their questions. It’s like when you email a company and get boilerplate answers that someone doesn’t even take the time to personalize. Usually they go right around your question, give you a technically correct but completely useless answer. Why bother writing in the first place? People feel the same way about calling someone that is reading the same sort of boilerplate answers.

I’ve been hit up by several vendors pitching HP products based on that technical support (for the business side anyway) is based in the US. It can be a compelling argument. Most of the places I’ve worked for had been Dell shops, but the outsourced support argument held a lot of water. They became even more apparent when users wouldn’t call the manufacturer for support because they couldn’t understand their people and they had no faith that they knew what they were doing. Dell has gone from Golden Boy of computing to a more mediocre standing with techs, due in no small part to off-shoring part of their tech support. It created an image problem.

I don’t think that a paper needed to be written for companies to understand that users want competent help that they can understand. They just need to listen more to what their customers are telling them, but to do that they need to be able to talk to the company directly in the first place. How do you feel about off-shoring? Sound off below!

(Image Credit: sheldonschwartz)

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