Support Jobs Homeward Bound at AT&T

Ann All

It may not exactly be a case of the chickens coming home to roost, but AT&T's decision to bring back in-house technical support positions that had been outsourced -- at least some of them to offshore locations -- is an interesting one.

It will create some 2,000 unionized jobs in the U.S., though AT&T hasn't made any announcements as to where a call center or centers may be located.

According to company statements, the jobs will pay a "competitive" $30,000 a year plus benefits.

This may look like a reasonable price to pay to address the customer complaints about offshore support personnel that have been popping up with increasing frequency on customer forums.

AT&T isn't the only company that has seen its customers blast the poor performance of offshore support personnel. Dell is among the other high-profile companies that have taken a turn in the negative PR barrel.

Executives of other companies who have made moves similar to AT&T's say an insourcing effort can help boost customer loyalty, as it shows that the company takes quality concerns seriously. A way of putting your money where your mouth is, in essence.

It appears that some companies simply underestimated the importance of customer-facing jobs like those of help desk staffers. Language and cultural differences often do make it harder to solve customer support issues.

While some companies have chosen to deal with these challenges by coaching offshore workers to sound more like the folks they serve, this little deception only increases the ire of some customers and does little to solve the underlying problems.

With more economical contact center options emerging all the time -- in neighbors like Canada and Mexico, which typically have a better grasp on U.S. language and culture; in more rural U.S. states like Nebraska; and with agents who work from their homes -- we won't be surprised to see more companies follow AT&T's lead.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 27, 2006 5:27 PM Voice in Wilderness Orlando Voice in Wilderness Orlando  says:
Well, it's about time, Corporate America! Remember the old joke comparing a GM car with a PC? It's actually not funny, but true.The cost to me is becoming so high that I am simply electing not to do business with firms that outsource offshore. Here is an unedited axact transcript of my live chat tonight with a customer support rep for a major IP: http://voiceinwildernessorlando.blogspot.com/The Voice Reply
Jun 13, 2007 5:46 PM Pam Pam  says:
I am against this off shore outsourcing for several reasons. One as a US citizen i really hate getting my calls transferred to NEW DEHLI India. Im sure these people really want to do a good job, but damn you just cant understand them! I spend more than half the call trying to repeat what I think they said.The other thing is their corrections are limited and they dont have any authority to credit items back or reverse improper handling. Sometimes all you want is an apology and correction and they tell you to call other numbers and people.Also the bottom line is.. is it taking jobs away from AMERICANS that need work too?What about our benefits and retirement?I find it difficult when they cannot confirm how they will go about the correction because they do not work for the company or have a representative available. Reply

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