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Rich Tehrani

[November 25, 2003]

The Pitfalls of International Outsourcing



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The first negative article I ever read about the pitfalls of outsourcing offshore came from Nadji Tehrani�s Publisher�s Outlook in the August 2003 issue of Customer Inter@ction Solutions Magazine titled: �Offshore Outsourcing in Perspective.� This article singled out India as a problem area for contact center outsourcing and followed up on a much more positive article in the August 2001 issue of the same magazine titled: �Go Inbound Young Man And Keep All Eyes On India.� After reading the former, many people lauded the fact that Nadji decided to say something negative about outsourcing offshore. Many representatives of economic development authorities representing offshore outsourcing had less than kind things to say. As always, we invite feedback from people with dissenting opinions to be published in our �letters� section in the magazine.

On November 24, 2003 an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the Fox News web site that began,: �After an onslaught of complaints, computer maker Dell Inc. (DELL) has stopped using a technical support center in India to handle calls from its corporate customers.� Now you don�t have to be a genius to realize that there are obviously some legitimate problems with outsourcing contact center business to �certain� other countries. I have heard a number of complaints about Dell�s customer service coming out of India. It is great to hear that they will be bringing some of the calls back into the states. This is good news for American workers.

I have had a chance lately to meet with a number of teleservices outsourcing companies and one meeting that was especially interesting was with Denise Knaack and Beth Hart of Colwell and Salmon, a company that runs a boutique outsourcing company that has agents in India and the US. The company prides itself on high-quality outsourcing at reasonable prices and tells me that they make sure that their Indian agents are as good as they can be and even offer Indian agents to come to their Albany headquarters to train and American workers to go train in India. This is a great strategy as it really empowers agents to feel like part of the team and can only increase morale by orders of magnitude.

Denise points out that you could have quality problems in the US as well. She is right. I should point out that the above mentioned negative article points out that U.S.-managed international outsourcers generally provide higher quality levels than those with no U.S. training. If you are going to take away anything from all this it is that you should probably not trust a company you don�t know with your customer relationships. Your safest bet when outsourcing is to work with a company that is well known in this country and has won some sort of third-party award such as the TOP 50 (outbound, inbound) or the MVP Quality Awards. What is your opinion? Please talk back to me in our forums.

Rich Tehrani is TMC's president. He welcomes your comments. Participate in our forums.

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