The company First Source which runs call centres for some of Britain's biggest companies intends to hire 500 people over the next two years. It is also in talks to take over Barclays' call centre at Stockton-on-Tees - and has assured the bank that it has no intention of moving the operation to India.
First Source, whose clients include Vodafone, BT and O2, was founded a decade ago to outsource work to India but has adapted to offer services in the client's home country. A million people work in British call centres and the investment in Middlesbrough, which is backed by a 1.9 million pounds development grant, is a sign of how outsourcing customer relations work has backfired.
Matthew Vallance, chief executive of First Source told 'The Times' that much of the negativity around Indian call centres was "anecdotal", with irate customers venting their frustration on the phone staff. However, offshore customer service workers have proved to be some of the most efficient. BT, for example, cut 4,000 positions from its India call centres last year and brought a number of jobs back to Britain.
Yet, it maintains one call centre in the subcontinent to deal with the trickiest problems because the staff there are so effective, the report said. Vallance said that customer calls requiring discussion or more abstract solutions needed to be handled in Britain, while routine or technical calls could be dealt with efficiently in countries such as India.
The move to solve customers' problems through instant messaging or e-mail methods also suited offshore staff.
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