Outsourcing call centers – an ethics question?

I recently bought a Dell computer and during the buy process I needed to call and it was a US salesperson. In fact, the Dell website was very careful in guiding US customers in the early part of the buy process to US persons, or at least US numbers.

You guessed it ! The person who spoke with me was outstanding but did have a foreign accent and did not grow-up in the US.

So I found Bruce Weinstein’s recent article on ethics, noble but out of touch with how things really work in this industry. Yes it is ethical and good business sense to give top customer service to customers so that they come back for more. But the assumption that a US worker will be more service oriented is wrong. The fact is that a decent US worker does not want to work these jobs even if the pay is higher because these are taxing jobs also called the "McDonald jobs" of the service sector. You can pay maybe 12 -20$ an hour compared to about $ 2 an hour in India but the motivation and attitude of the "dead end"  call center worker in the US is just appalling. Just go to an US call center and compare with an Indian one in the dead of night. Check my 2006 post here.

The point is that the Call Center industry is very highly developed and is geared to addressing customer issues depending on the phase of the sales or service process. For tech support Call Centers are paid differently for different levels of support ( Level 1 vs level 2).  The cultural training is also enormous as I have seen, although gaps do exist.

Thus the ethics question that Weinstein raises is really one of efficiency and industry is always trying to improve.  For example you are unlikely to find lead paint in Chinese toys in the future but Chinese toys will be back and US manufacturing will continue declining for purely cost reasons. But America and Americans are innovative and I think overall the world will be better off. I got this previous line’s idea from Brink Lindsey’s great book that I am currently reading called "The Age of Abundance." More on that later….

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: